The Beauty of RU
Exhibition of Northern Song Dynasty Ru Ware
Ru ware has long been regarded as the crème de la crème in the history of Chinese ceramics. Emperor Huizong (r. 1101–1125) in the Song dynasty was a connoisseur of Chinese art, not only an accomplished calligrapher and painter, but also a discriminating collector, as his selection of ceramics for décor and daily use shows. As a devout Taoist, he was partial to celadon wares. The celadon produced at the Baofeng kiln in Henan, with its exquisite quality, was thus selected as the official ceramic ware for court use. A kiln was even set up in the capital for such exquisite celadon ware. With only an eye for the finest, Emperor Huizong paid no mind to the costs. Defective products would be destroyed and disposed of, which explains why large piles of shards were found in Ru kiln sites.
The Beauty of Ru — Exhibition of Northern Song Dynasty Ru Ware is an exhibition that takes place at K. Y. Fine Art from April 1 - June 3, 2017. Over 100 Ru ware shards are showcased, together with two restored vessels and a rare Ru-type dish with incised peony design in bluish-green glaze. The exhibition also has on display three superb Ru ware shards from the former collection of a US connoisseur residing in Hong Kong, Mr. Ronald W. Longsdorf. While most of the exhibits can find their matching vessels in extant Ru ware, and those uncovered from the Qingliang Temple kiln site in Baofeng, some have never been seen before. They come in various tones and sizes, with motifs such as raised bands, lotus petal, dragon, flora, and Chinese inscriptions. Their forms include dishes, basins, boxes, bowls, vases, jars, duck-shaped censers, and cup stands. Alongside the shards, kiln furniture such as disc-supports and temperature testers are also on display, which provide important information for the study of Northern Song Ru ware.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank an old friend, formerly of the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Ms. Lai Suk Yee, Museum Expert Adviser to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department of Hong Kong government; Mr. Yan Yan, curator of the Shenzhen Wangye Museum; and Mr. Ronald W. Longsdorf. They have all contributed to this volume their valuable advice, documentary materials, editing, or an article of their own. Last but not least, I am grateful to Mr. Hou Yu of the Henan Luoyang Cultural Museum of Bronze and Stone (Henan Luoyang Jinshi Wenhua Bowuguan), who has generously given me an original ink rubbing of an important stele inscription, which lends invaluable information to the study of Ru ware.
K. Y. Ng