During the Song Dynasty, flower stalls were one of the most bustling spots in the cities. With the increasing technological improvement in flower cultivation and grafting, more and more people chose to engage in the business of planting and selling flowers, which made the flower fields bloom all over the countryside and in all seasons.Whether it was selling flowers at stalls or decorating tea houses and restaurants with flowers, it is evident that people's lives were filled with artistic expressions at that time.
Small Celadon Yuhuchun Vase with Carved Floral Design
In the commercial districts, florists peddled along the streets, and colorful flowers swayed in the breeze, attracting many people to enjoy and buy flowers. Vendors would display their carefully cultivated flowers in a variety of containers, including bamboo baskets, porcelain vases, porcelain pots, and porcelain bowls. Many shop owners also like to employ flower arrangements to decorate their stores and tea houses to create a high-class and elegant style.
Menglianglu documented that during the Northern Song Dynasty, restaurants in Bianliang, the capital city, used to attract customers by hanging famous paintings in their stores. Later, in the Southern Song Dynasty, teahouses in Hangzhou used the same method to attract customers, and the owners also put seasonal flowers in porcelain vases. Even small roadside stores would display celadon vases with crape myrtle flowers.
Vase with Tube-shaped Ears and Tortoiseshell Glaze
Gao Zhu, a poet of the Southern Song Dynasty, wrote that "putting flowers in a vase as a decoration for banquets is a good way to enjoy the time in spring." Porcelain vases and flower arrangements became indispensable decorations in people's lives. The vase with a long neck and carved floral design on a white ground and the vase with dish-shaped mouth and black peony design on a white ground, both by Cizhou Kiln, are on display in the exhibition and could be used for flower arrangements or ornamental displays.
Vase with a Long Neck and Carved Floral Design on a White Ground
The Song people not only viewed flowers in the bustling flower markets, but also incorporated the charm of flowers into their everyday wares. Porcelain wares (tea bowls, cups, vases, etc.) with flower-shaped mouths became increasingly popular. combining practicality, esthetics, and exquisite craftsmanship to give a sense of the tranquility of the tea while also presenting the elegance of flowers. The prunus-shaped tea bowl, celadon yuhuchun vase with mallow-petal shaped mouth, celadon mallow-petal cup with carved penoy design and other wares on display in this exhibition are an outstanding demonstrations of Song aesthetics, combining utility, visual appeal and exquisite craftsmanship.
Celadon Mallow-petal Cup with Carved Peony Design
At the same time, the floral patterns depicted on porcelain wares were diverse and had various symbolic meanings, infusing porcelains with deeper cultural overtones and making flowers an intriguing cultural symbol.
Exhibition of Porcelain Wares from Three Kilns of the Song Dynasty
Meibo Art Museum · Meibo Collection
April 29 to August 27, 2023 (closed on Mondays)
Meibo Art Museum · Meibo Collection, No.88, Liming Road, Minhang District, Shanghai
(closed on Mondays)