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Brush Washer

Late 11th-early 12th century

North China

Stoneware with glaze with iron "oil spots"

H. 2 5/8 x Diam. 6 1/2 in. (6.7 x 16.5 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.144

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The spectacular "oil spot" effect on this brush washer was the result of an excess of iron in the glaze that rose to the surface during firing. It was made in North China at a kiln producing Cizhou and northern black wares. This technique was also used at the Jian kilns in Fujian Province in southeastern China, and it has been suggested that the northern black wares were produced in response to the popularity of ceramics from Fujian, which were used throughout China at all levels of society. Kilns competed for the same customers, so they often copied the obvious characteristics of each other's styles.