The main Cizhou kiln, located at Guantaizhen in Handan
of North China's Hebei
Province (at that time under the Cizhou Administration), was an important
kiln in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and a representative of the civil kilns.
Cizhou porcelain was a type of ordinary household ware manufactured in the
region of Cizhou, hence the ware's name.
Archaeological investigations locate the Cizhou kilns over a large area --
far beyond the confines of Cizhou in the Song Dynasty. Production flourished
most in southern Hebei Province and northern and central Henan
Province (Central China), which included the areas of Handan, Pengcheng,
Cixian, Yuxian, Xiuwu, Hebiji, Lushan, Baofeng, Dengfeng, Mixian, and Tangyin on
the Central Plains. Shanxi (North China), Shaanxi (Northwest), and Shandong
(East) provinces also produced this porcelain ware.
Cizhou porcelain came in many glaze colors: white, black, yellow, brown, and
green as well as a blended glaze.
Cizhou's most outstanding achievement was applying the traditional Chinese
art of painting to porcelain, with the painted decoration on white glaze being
mostly black or brown, or black on green or yellow glaze. There were also
incised, engraved, carved, and embossed designs on white glaze, all showing
Cizhou motifs were fish, aquatic weeds, flowers, birds, galloping deer,
frolicking rabbits, dragons, phoenixes, vases with carved designs of flowers on
a body with pearl-like dots, acrobats, legends, and poems and essays.
In one example, a headrest portrays a boy fishing. On the white glaze surface
is drawn in black a vast river, with the little boy on the bank. The concise,
vigorous strokes demonstrate the rich, vivid effect of Song ink paintings.