Ting Wares: Chinese Porcelain
If it is for the perfect marriage of function and form and subtle brilliance of the glaze that most Chinese and Japanese connoisseurs have for ages accorded the highest esteem to the wares of Sung Dynasty (960-1297 AD), that variety of Sung wares called Ting, have to take the prize for unrivalled immaculate majesty.
Ting Wares were first made in the kilns of Tingchow. Although red, brown and black Ting wares were also manufactured, these have up to now defied accurate identification (except for few precious black pieces). Thus, when one speaks of Ting, it is with reference to the white wares.
The finest specimens are called Pai Ting (White Ting). These are wares belonging to the porcelain class, whose ivory-white glaze on bowls and similar shapes often have "tears" on the surface. Some Pai Ting wares appear to be translucent, sometimes with orangey cast.
Another celebrated variety of wares from Ting kilns is Tu Ting (Earth Ting), whose opaque body looks somewhat softer than Pai Ting. The cream-white glaze is finely crackled. Decoration incised under the glaze or mold-pressed, showing scrolls, flowers, birds and fishes, sometimes combined with bands or collars, pointed leaves carved in soft relief, are often seen on Tu Ting wares.
Fen Ting (Flour Ting) ware is some pieces of coarser make.
It is known that white wares for use at the various courts of Five Dynasties (907-960 AD) were being produced in Ting kilns, years before Sung emerged. One of the dynasties was Later Tang.
Out of many other varieties of wares made during Northern Sung dynasty (960-1126 AD), Ting wares which were years prior to Sung court retreat from Chin hordes advancing on Kaifeng to Hangchow in South, were seen as the very embodiment of the high level and culture for which the dynasty is lovingly remembered. Authorities hold the view that Northern Sung's Ting wares were directly descended from earlier whit wares of Tang dynasty.
From the beginning of Northern Sung dynasty to the reign of Emperor Hui Tsung, Ting wares were imperially favored as "Kuan" wares; and although other official wares developed and received patronage during Hui Tsung's reign and Southern Sung court (Hui Tsung's was the last long reign in Kaifeng, Northern capital), Ting potters, who had joined the exodus and worked in pottery sites set up for them near Ching-te Chen, did not completely diminish in importance. There, they and new generation of potters made what has been called Nan Ting (Southern Ting) wares. Nan Ting wares are today indistinguishable from those made at Tingchow itself.
The production of wares of Ting variety continued in many factories throughout China in the succeeding Yuan, Ming and Ching dynasties. Ting wares are being made until today in China. In most cases, Yuan, Ming and Ching-made Ting wares are copies so perfect that experts are now hard put to tell them from those of Sung vintage. For "Kiln gloss" in post-Sung Ting wares have disappeared over the centuries.
In Chia Chiang reign (1522-1567 AD) of Ming dynasty (1368-1644 AD), there lived Chou Tan-Chuan, great potter who could make excellent copies of pottery objects that were already ancient in his time. Chou could not only make his copies look exactly the same in every detail, but he also had a method of reducing the "kiln gloss" found in every newly-made glazed pottery.
Sung dynasty produced other varieties of white wares, which (like white Tzuchow wares) are classed by some Chinese authorities as belonging to Ting group. In Yuan, Ming and Ching dynasties various factories also produced white wares of a type more or less resembling Ting.
Some Ting wares have also been found in Philippines and various parts of Indonesia.