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Decorative Designs in Chinese Art 中国文物的纹饰

Fire Design 火纹
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Songze Culture 崧泽文化

The Songze Culture was a Neolithic culture south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, named after a village in the Shanghai area.

gray pottery
崧泽文化公元前3800〜3200
上海出土 上海博物馆
Gray Pottery Jar with Openwork
Songze Culture (c. 3,800—3,200 BCE)
Excavated from Siqian Village, Qingpu County, Shanghai. Shanghai Museum

Black pottery 黑陶 is a style of pottery originating in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River in the Neolithic Age. It was developed from painted pottery and became widespread starting around 2,000 BCE. It was mostly produced on a fast potter's wheel (kick wheel) that span faster than the slower wheels used previously. Shaping tools were also used. Polishing of the surface was sometimes done when the clay was almost dry. This gives a smooth and shiny appearance.

black pottery
崧泽文化公元前3800〜3200
上海出土 上海博物馆
Black Pottery Covered Jar with Inscribed Design
Songze Culture (c. 3,800—3,200 BCE)
Excavated from Siqian Village, Qingpu County, Shanghai. Shanghai Museum

The widespread appearance of black pottery was related to changes in firing technology. Black pottery was fired in kilns at about 1,000 degrees Celsius compared to about 800 degrees Celsius for painted pottery. An iron reducing atmosphere would be created by blocking the smoke passage and leading to an oxygen deficient atmosphere. This resulted in the black color of the pottery. Black pottery was not as suitable for painting on so inscribed patterns, like shown below, were more common.

Black pottery zun
崧泽文化公元前3800〜3200
遗址出土 苏州博物馆
Black pottery zun
Songze Culture (c. 3,800—3,200 BCE)
Excavated from Meiyan Ruins. Suzhou Museum
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