Chinese Jian tea bowl makes record $11.7m

A Chinese Jian tea bowl dating to the era of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279 AD) made $11.7m at Christie's New York on September 15.

That's a new world record for a tea bowl from this period.

oil spot bowl
The bowl originates from the famous Jian kiln in Eastern China

The Jian kiln stood in the city of Jianyang in Eastern China. The wares produced there have been celebrated for well over 1,000 years.

Among the most sought after are those pieces that, like the present example, display the rare "oil spot" glaze.

The effect was achieved by firing an iron-rich glaze at very high temperatures, around 1250-1350°C. This causes the excess iron to bubble and burst.

Only around 100 examples of Jian oil glaze bowls survive today. They are particularly prized by Japanese collectors, due to their long history of use in tea ceremonies.

This bowl was in the collection of the Kuroda family, a powerful family from Nakata, Japan, from at least the 19th century up until the 1970s.

Since then it has passed through some of the nation's most revered collections.

Christie's explains: "This rare bowl with its illustrious history and remarkable accoutrements is an important part of the history of Chinese Song dynasty ceramics and the development of tea drinking in China, as well as the history of ceramic appreciation and the tea ceremony in Japan.

"It is also a vessel of consummate beauty."

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