Proto-porcelains in green glazes of various shades were first produced during the Shan Dynasty (16C – c. 1050 BCE). Mature greenwares were made during the Eastern Han Dynasty (CE 25-220) at kilns in Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Hunan Provinces. The best known kiln systems producing these early celadons were the Yue and Wuzhou kilns. So far , more than 700 Yue kilns have been uncovered dating from the Eastern Han to the Song (960-1279), and more than 500 Wuzhou kilns have been located dating from the Eastern Han to the Yuan (1279-1368).
At different points in time, Yue celadons differed from Wuzhou celadons in many ways such as their form, decorative motifs, craftsmanship and use or non-use of a white slip below the glaze.
Some of the major differences are:
- During the period from the Three Kingdoms (220-265) to the Jin (265-420), the Yue kilns manufactured granaries and other agricultural forms such as mills, grindstones, etc. as funerary wares in accordance with local customs. These forms were seldom made at the Wuzhou kilns. On the other hand, the Wuzhou kilns produced celadons in the following forms (which were seldom made at the Yue kilns during this same period): tripod jars, cylindrical jars, jars with small mouths, brush holders, pigsties with gabled roofs and ewers with sheep-head spouts.
- During the Six Dynasties (220-580), Wuzhou wares had a white layer between the biscuit and the green glaze. From the late Western Jim (265-316) to the Tang (618-906), Wuzhou wares had a white slip applied under the green glaze. In both cases, the white substance or slip can be seen as white lines or sots through the glazed cracks. No slip was used for Yue celadons.
Yue and Wuzhou celadons also had some features in common:
- During the Three Kingdoms, both wares were decorated with incised bands encircling the bodies and appliqués of animal masks or Buddhist figures.
- From the late Three Kingdoms to the Western Jin, cross-hatching and bands of circles (or ‘pearls’) were popular motifs.
- During the Eastern Jin (317-420) both Yue and Wuzhou celadons were decorated with brown spots.