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Knowing Your Jian Zhan (建盏) Shape

There are several cup shapes in Jian Zhan (建盏), however there are the 4 shapes which originated from Song Dynasty. Recognizing them helps to understand the different characteristics of the shape and how to appreciate the different glaze in different shape better.


In fact, all glaze designs can be found in different cup shape but certain shape brings out certain glaze design better. Do not be too worried if you cannot identify all shapes, perhaps start with 1 to 2 which you preferred and recognizing the rest will come to you eventually.


The top choice of the 4 main cup shapes is 束口 “Shu Kou" which means Narrow Cup. The gradual sloping outward from the bottom of the cup end with a "water line" mark near to the top and rim of the cup is the sign of a "Shu Kou"

Actual example of a "Shu Kou"


敛口 “Lian Kou" or commonly known as 平口 “Ping Kou" or Flat Mouth, it looks somehow similar to "Shu Kou" except it does not have the "water line" mark in "Shu Kou" The edge is smooth throughout from the base to the rim of the cup.


Actual example of a "Ping Kou"

撇口 “Pie Kou" Open Mouth. This is one of the easiest to recognize cup shape as the gradual slope from the base of the cup suddenly open outward when it is closer to the rim of the cup.

Actual example of a "Pie Kou"

敞口 "Chang Kou" also known as 斗笠 "Dou Li" Funnel. Similar to a "Pie Kou" however the gradient of the slope of the wall of the cup is constant. Hence a cross section look appears to be like a funnel.

Actual example of a "Dou Li"


Beside these four most commonly known shapes, there are still many different similar shapes, not to mention some artisans specifically created some shapes themselves to accommodate the glaze design they come up with. We will explain these evolved shapes created in modern days in a separate blog entry.




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