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Ge (Wade-Giles: ko) ware

Grayish white stoneware glaze with an intentionally closely crackled glaze, probably stemming from the Zhejiang province in the 13-15th century. Copied ever after and particularly popular in the early 20th century, then often in combination with brown unglazed molded or incised borders or applications.

Ge makes together with Guan, Ding, Jun and Ru up the 'Five Great Song Wares'. While each of these wares has its own distinctive characteristics the southern crackled wares of Guan and Ge have retained their mystery. While no unaminity of opinion have been reached it is generally thought that those wares with a single network of wide dark grey crackles are Guan, and those with a double crackle jinsi tiexian (gold thread and iron wire), should be designated Ge.

Ge literally means 'big-brother' ware, due to a legend telling of two brothers working in Longquan, one made the typical celadon style ceramics, while the elder made ge ware in his private kiln. Ming dynasty writer I claims that the ge kiln took its clay from the same site as Guan ware, which is what accounts for the difficulty in distinguishing one from the other (though Gao thinks "Ge is distinctly inferior" to Guan). Overall, Ge remains somewhat elusive, but basically comprises two types—one with a ‘warm rice-yellow glaze and two sets of crackles, a more prominent set of darker colour interspersed with a finer set of reddish lines (called chin-ssu t’ieh-hsien or ‘golden floss and iron threads’, which can just faintly be detected on this bowl: [7]). The other Ge ware is much like Guan ware, with grayish glaze and one set of crackles. Once thought to have only been manufactured alongside Longquan celadon, per its legendary founding, Ge was copied in Jingdezhen during the Ming, Chenghua period however on a porcelain body where the original dark body was imitated by iron oxid intentionally applied to the foot rim. (JEN, MS, 1991)

While similar to Guan ware, Ge typically has a grayish-blue glaze that is fully opaque with an almost matte finish. Its crackle pattern is exaggerated, often standing out in bold black. Though still shrouded in mystery, many specialists believe that Ge ware did not develop until the very late Southern Song or even the Yuan. In any case, enthusiasm for it persisted throughout the Ming. Differences between later Ming imitations of Song/Yuan Ge include: Ming versions substitute a white porcelain body; they tend to be produced in a range of new shapes, for example those for the scholar's studio; glazes tend to be thinner and more lustrous; and slip is applied to the rim and base to simulate the "brown mouth and iron foot" of Guan ware.

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