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Song dynasty (960-1279)

A period of reunification. Maritime trade was encouraged. Publication of handbooks and encyclopedias promoted the widespread dissemination of information. Mining, metal-casting, and industrial mass production reached a high level as water and road transportation improved. "Neo-Confucianism," a reinvigoration of traditional Confucianism with Buddhist and Daoist ideas, developed. Song emperors were among the greatest imperial patrons of the arts in Chinese history. They were avid collectors and generous supporters of a painting academy. Likewise, members of the civil-service bureaucracy, educated in literary, historical and artistic traditions shaped a new and potent artistic taste that continues to affect Chinese art today. The ceramic industry prospered and kilns spread all over China in order to meet export needs. In the coastal areas kilns established themselves making wares similar to the famous kilns in inner China. In the North, ceramics of the Liao, Jin and Western Xia dynasties combined the influence of the ceramic industry in Central Plains and the distinctive national features of their own.

The early period (960-1126) during which the capital, Bianjing (modern Kaifeng), was located along the Yellow River is called Northern Song. In 1127 invasions from the north and west forced the dynasty to move to a southern capital, Hangzhou. This period is called Southern Song (1127-1279). Lyrical, intimate landscape painting and ceramic works noted for their quiet subtlety, characterizes art during this period. By the Yuan dynasty, the ceramic center shifted to Jingdezhen, where blue and white, underglaze red and color enamels were developed.

See: Chronology Section for details

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