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What is Jian Ware?

The ceremony of tea in the Song dynasty can be traced for years back in the 7th century (960-1279). No matter the social status of the people, tea was prevalent, and its processing took a great interest in production and till drinking. The song dynasty is seen to have refined and carried on the impressive rituals of drinking tea from the Tang dynasty (607-918).

Not only was it enjoyed as a leisure beverage but also a social beverage among all people. The etiquette of drinking tea was much respected over the years, which were passed on generation to generation with better hospitality to preparations and wares for drinking the tea.

In the Song dynasty, the king controlled the plantation of tea by establishing a new system over them, showing how important tea was into the empire, where grading determined the quality of tea. The tribute tea was only for a few selected families and members for it was exclusively cultivated in the mountains and made for the king alone.

While the rest of the tea developed according to grading, it is to this Huizong king of Song dynasty appointed Ts the in charge of grading the tea which was plucked in the spring.

Spring was the best time in the region to pluck and process tea. Which later was packed into cakes and added plum juice for taste. However, with time, it evolved into a powdered form, which led to different refinement processes. Drinking of tea was much of importance and served as a ritual and bestowed in the heart of the Song dynasty.

Under the management of Huizong led to the refinement of the most elegant and luxurious porcelain created underglaze decorations that were of exotic designs. However, to Huizong, these valuable objects called tea wares became much renowned, and he retained them for a different type of tea.

For example, the whipped tea was complemented with a dark, black glaze offset of froth color. That much featured within the song tea competition, these whip up cups were entirely made for the greenest tea in color, and the dark glaze was much preferable. However, with time, there came one of a shallow saucer-like bowl called Zhan that was much smaller barely hold much of the tea but was so great in bringing the taste and the color of the tea perfectly.

The birth of Jian Zhan tea ware brought a groundbreaking manufacturing technique that changed the drinking of tea, and the acceptance of Jian wares became well known by the king, and there were no other better clay wares best as Jian wares.

Tea ceremony

Tea Culture was truly born the day that the Jian Kilns started firing

Tea culture can be traced to have gained much influence within the Song dynasty just the day that Zhan ware featured under the Song Tea competition. Jian ware became much of a ritual in use and was patented by Song emperor Huizong for ceremonial purposes. Long ago the Song dynasty used borrowed wares to enrich the ritual of tea but since Jian Zhan fired the kiln in the choice of a better ware for the dedication of tea. Tea has never been the same again.

There were successful small kilns and pottery as depicted by Menglianglu's book recording of the folk custom. These kilns were owned by small families within the era of the Song dynasty (960-1127). However, in addition to this, there were other governments governed kiln that dominated the market industry and subdued privately, and small kilns made these wares for wine and drinking of tea. Many kilns featured over time from the great five kilns: Ru kilns that were produced in the northern song dynasty and mostly produced wares to the court and for the average citizen use, Jun kilns which were built incivility and with quality paste and mainly for the royal court.

Ding kilns produced one of the most beautiful porcelain in the northern Song dynasty and were much of the development of the Tang dynasty and the five dynasties. Cizhou Kilns which were one of the most significant kilns in the Song and Yuan dynasty which was much inherited to the northern Tang dynasty kilns. Other kilns being the Gua, Yueh, Longquan, Jingdezhen and Ge kilns.

The firing of Jian Kilns after that provided fabulous wares and became one of the famous kilns in the south of China. Jian kilns can be traced down to share the fire porcelains to the Tang Dynasty that comprised of the glaze tea wares and brown vessels. The late five dynasties of the north provided great inspiration to the improved techniques of the Jian Zhan that used the concave infundibular sagger to fire the kilns.

The black blaze bowls made a great name in the tea competition and whole Song dynasty for holding quality standard and observing the accentuated taste of tea at large.

Jian Zhan kilns held the position of the Dian Cha method, which was a tea-drinking fashion of the Song dynasty. According to the book of Cha Lu (Tea record), it shows, and it reads that Cai Xiang talked about Jian wares and described, “Tea is white, the bowl is black.


The black bowl produced by Jian. Being rather a hick fabric they retain the heat, so once warmed the cool slowly and are adding value to account" Sixty years late the emperor Huizong writes the Da Guan Cha Lu (treatise of tea) praising the back bowl with white foam in it made from Jian kilns.

The firing of Jian kilns brought history to tea drinking and was much liked by the royal family. While the glory ran down the Song dynasty that changed the rituals of tea and another era was born and with time the blaze black bowl was everywhere and mass production within the time was much seen in the same ways and techniques.

Much trial and error, the perfect bowl was formulated, and it was called Jian Zhan(Jian ware).

The Jian Kilns also known as The Lao Long kilns can be traced to the Tang dynasty and were reinstated to fire up the production of the Jian ware that was presented in the Song dynasty and changed the tea rituals in the era.

They were majorly situated in the southern part of China and located in the Shuijizhen town the northern part of the Jian Yang City of Fujian. As mentioned in the historical data in Xin Zeng Ge Gu Yao Lun recorded that Jian kilns produced bowls of all nature and most featured the Black glaze bowl that was thin and much great for the tea in the Song dynasty.

These kilns were indeed a game-changer to the wares used in the time for their exquisite look and ability to provide needed satisfaction within the Song dynasty for tea drinking. Jian Zhan bowls were a true tea connoisseur during the era that changed the drinking of tea during the time since most of the bowls loosed the flavor.

These Black glaze bowl surfaced much in the Chinese ceramics. The firing of these Zhan wares is made with great patience that would require up to 5 years of soaking clay to obtain the required density. However, it was much easier for Jian kilns for it was located on highly rich iron clay that was much regarding making these wares.

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The perfect aged clay was much preferred, and it was dug below in the ground at high precision to obtain these magnetic clay that was much of great use and primary raw material for the wares according to the Tang dynasty.

The making of the kiln followed basic structures that have been passed over the generation of the five dynasties from the Tang dynasty with just an improvement. They were made of limestone and iron oxide and much fired to oxidize with high temperatures using much-specified fuel the pine trees that provide a much-controlled temperature in the kiln.

To get a perfect Jian Zhan ware was much hard and its price was extremely high and made it valuable within the time.


According to the Song dynasty, the Da Cha Lu books provide that most of the Zhan wares remain unearthed and broken. For if anything was not worthy of being passed to generation was required to be destroyed. Through massive uncovering of Zhan wares in Hangzhou In the southern part of the Song dynasty show the making of Zhan was extensive with much trials and errors to provide the best for the rituals.

To the records, these wares were of great value and until the best and perfect Jian Zhan bowl was born which fired with excellent luster under the Song dynasty.

Every piece required regulated temperature and balance of elements, and whenever they failed the test, they could be destroyed until the best was chosen in the kiln by Jian Zhan. These Kilns operated once a year at the start of the autumn since it was easier to produce the wares in a much appealing manner.



Do you know?

Jian wares are much of a consistent model that was dedicated to the royal and became a tea connoisseur in the Song dynasty wholly. The production was much massive overtime.

However, it has been widely known, and many current studies are getting in to understand the works of Jian Zhan in crystalizing the clay to make the black blaze bowls for this exclusive inspiration that was traced in the Tang dynasty. Making of the Jian wares was not easy, and being that these kilns were fired once a year, I brings in the question of how well were they produced.


Through the unearthing of Hangzhou, a capital city in the south of the Song dynasty shows the work was not easy for massive broken porcelain bowls.

Studies have since then tried to understand the exciting bit of the actual mechanisms and kinetics behind the transitioning of iron oxide and to decipher the technologies of the manufacture of the ancient Jian wares that can help in improving the iron oxide synthesis in the real-time.



Characteristics of Jian ware:

Jian ware fabrication was classified according to the blazing effect of iron in the firing. The firing of the red oxide iron provided different blaze bowls that were of different structures that provided a perfect visual contrast of the Tea, making it much-praised within the Song dynasty. As the black bowl with white foam that did not coal the tea and did not affect the tea flavor. They are three Jian Zhan wares the:


1. Hares fur
Hare's fur glazing effect of the bowls that were produced on high temperatures in which the molten glace of clay iron separated to provide these effects. The tilting of the bowls much also enhanced it, and it dripped down on the sides and much retained during cooling.


Hares fur

2. Oil spot
The Oil spots are one of the hardest crafted and rarest of Zhan ware that was formed with smaller oil spots that resembled partridge. These Oil spot wares were occasionally made when the kiln temperatures are reduced while the glazes were boiling, thereby fixing iron-rich spots before they could run down as hare fur glazes.

Oil spot

3. Partridge feather
The Partridge feather was referred to as more delicate markings on the partridge bird at the breast. These wares had light-colored spots on the bowl and were much used for tribute.

Partridge feather

Making the process of Jian Zhan Wares:

The make of Jian Zhan is much explicit and can be explained much, and all are to be made under the Song dynasty specifications.


1.Clay selection
Clay selection is essential to meet the needs of the creation of these wares. Clay with a high iron percentage is needed to ensure it meets the standards of making Jian Zhan.


Prepare clay and graze through Pulverization to attain finer grains that will be molded well.


3.Washing and Sieving
When making Zhan wares, the clay should be thick and denser and much moderate as also the glaze. After you have sieved the clay is put in the slurry tank and the glaze placed on the pool for preservation and attainment of the required density and foraging purposes.


4.Chen Fu
This is a terminology that refers to the keeping of the clay and Glazes away from direct sunlight and air. It is to ensure that the clay and glaze are of absolute humidity and oxidation rate due to Iron presence.


5.Knead the clay
Kneading is a process of removing the air and impurities from the clay and making the slurry much denser, uniform in humidity to ensure correct forming of clay to create the wares easily. Apart from that, it will prevent the clay from breaking and after the wares production. It is an essential step that should be correctly done.


6.The shaping of the clay
Clay shaping is essential, depending on what you want to create and mold if you have a machine shaper the better and much higher precision.


Jian Zhan models of the tea wares had a shallow circle foot and the base part with an inner ring that needed to be modified by a knife. It is essential to observe the Zhan traditional creation design.


8.Kiln unglazed Jian Zhan
After the modification of the clay to Jian Zhan design then you have to kiln the clay, and its importance is to strengthen the clay mechanically which will ensure that the imperfect Jian Zhan is removed.


9.Blend Glaze
The traditional glazing was done by natural iron ore and plant ash which decomposed to a beautiful glaze on the Jian ware. The secret is to use purest materials to crystalize effectively.


Jian Zhan craft featured as one of exceptional work through a graze line to control the glazing range. Glazing should be skillful to ensure it is moderate, it made thin then small crystals will be formed and produce weak work, and if too thick, the glaze may easily stick at the bottom.


11.Put in the kiln
Place a layer of alumina to avoid sticking and put the Jian Zhan ware back to the kiln.


12. Fire the Kiln
In the making of Jian Zhan, the kiln process is much of importance than all other methods. The degree, time, and frequency maters so much in attaining the desired glaze color. When Jian Zhan is put in the kiln, there should be total concentration to ensure the right temperatures and make sure that the wares do not overstay in the kiln.


13. Finish Kiln
The making process has many restrictions and to make sure that whatever comes from the kiln is of quality inspection is done, and the defected Jian Zhan is destroyed on the spot to avoid breaking the reputation of the Song dynasty.

Making the process of Jian Zhan Wares

A 300ft Long built into a mountain is a fine musical instrument that needs "tuning.”

Long kiln

The long history of these teacups among Chinese history vanished with the fall of the Jian Zhan culture in the early Yuan dynasty.

That leads to the recreation of these tea wares by Japanese who wanted to progress the art of Zhan wares. The prototypes that were unearthed provide great inspiration in making of temmoku bowls which were replicas of the original that provided a great representation to curb the Chinese market distinction and world of these precious bowls.

However, with time Master Xiong who grew in Shui Ji provide the hope of restoring the Zhan wares through the creation of 300ft long kiln on the specifics of the Song dynasty. The study of Zhan remnants unearthed in Hangzhou and Fujian inspires producing the tea wares. The study of the old dragon kiln and old kiln of Tang and Song dynasty and the relics he learned of how where and how the kiln was to be made that led to the revival of Lao Long kiln.

The realization of a 300ft long brick built in the mountains was a fine instrument that needed tuning, and it would take many years to achieve the precision of firing. Master Xiong knew that to bake the right density of the stone, it had to run like it would in the time of the Song dynasty. Under construction of the kiln required a friend that enabled him to recreate the Lao long Kiln at the same place so that Xiong would have access to the clay just as used in the Song dynasty by Jian Zhan.

Clay and Glaze were much crucial in the creation of the kiln and going back straight to the source was an option to consider. Mr Ai and master Xiong had to build a kiln and dig up the clay and age it entirely. By letting it sit on the water to make it much denser and after the kiln was completed and the ageing clay was good. Then the firing process began, and it was done one a year just in the same way is done in the Song Dynasty.

Finally, Master Xiong Opened His Kiln for the First Time. The results were astounding — almost every cup misfired.

Defective bowl
Defective bowl
Defective bowl
Defective bowl

After 15 years of experience Mr Ai and master Xiong of experimentation, it proved that their work had not been a waste in any manner though there were small changes to the kiln and production of the Zhan ware.

It was a match to the wares the song process was much convectional which was by swishing the teacup in the glaze to give random angles to the cups. Mater Xiong on opening the kiln innovated and changes to dip straight of the drinkware to provide deep color which distinguishes the product from the antique pieces.

Master Xiong provides the light that the Zhan wares in production are not an imitation of the Song dynasty Zhan process but a continuation of the culture that why they offer a distinguishable difference in making.

The process was not easy and as documented Master Xiong too had a series of smashes over the years to ensure that the wares not worthy of Song's reputation are not passed over until the production of better and quality Zhan wares which were formidably beautiful and attractive.

It was a success shared in the hearts of Master Xiong and Mr Ai for a breakthrough of the magnificent results brought up by the kiln.

Today The Ji Yu Fang Lao Long Kiln is the only Kiln in the world that can rightfully say that it produces Jian Zhan.

Lao Long kiln provided a perfect match to the old Song dynast Zhan wares though there were 90% fail for all the firing. Though they did not resemble the actual wares, they provided a continuation of what the song dynasty started and became one of the best kilns in the world compared to the Tommoku the Japanese tea bowl crafted by the Min Hou, Fuqing and Ningfei in japan. The kiln provided the greatness of the Song process, making it the best there is.

Master Xiong followed the process of firing the kiln once a year toward the end of autumn and early spring due to the variance of climate and environment that affected the functions adequately bringing disparities.

Having incredible craftsmanship was one of Master Xiong's ethical guides and paying the respects to the Song ancestors he had to produce the best. That's why the willingness of breaking even the most beautiful wares of his masterpiece so that the ancient history is respected and the Zhan ware reputation can be kept to the coming generations.

Moreover, it is to this that the work of Master Xiong has an excellent reputation in the modern world among many for his exceptional work.

Even now, after almost 20 years of research & experimentation, there is a 90% fail rate among, even the best of months.

Continuation of a century heritage is much of an incredible work done by Master Xiong brought hope in the unseen future of the Song tea wares and its ritual today still stand with us for the kiln made by Xiong.

The craftsmanship of the kiln and the process of aging Clay has been a great work. However, due to the change of environment even within the best months chosen once per year brought disparities between the Zhan wares produced now and the ancient ones.

Having that one perfect piece even after a 90% fail rate from the kilns was a great achievement to master Xiong that inspired more firing each year to continue the Song dynasty process and pay the tributes.

Recreation of these ceramics is an act of passion with possible dedication and knowledge.

Another factor that provided a change in the tea wares is the ageing of the clay since it would require artificial ageing that makes its disparities. Though Master Xiong innovation brings hope to the future of the Song dynasty and improving the art of firing, again and again, to get perfect pieces is the heart of a Song for the coming generation.

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