Famed for their black, shiny porcelain ware, the Deqing kilns can be considered complementary to the more popular Yue ware. Dating back to the East Jin Dynasty (317 – 420 A.D.) and ending during the early Southern Dynasties (420 – 589 A.D.) the wares were only actively produced for about a century, after which they faded into obscurity. As a result, porcelain wares of the Deqing kilns preserved to present day are extremely rare.
As well as glazed black porcelain, the Deqing kilns produced their own celadon. Its ancient sites were located within Deqing County in Zhejiang Province, where as many as a dozen kiln sites have been found. This is one of the earliest production areas of black porcelain in Zhejiang.
Deqing wares consisted of black porcelain and celadon designs which were quite simple and subtle, yet sophisticated and attractive. The style of Deqing porcelain was quite similar to that of Wuzhou and Yue kilns. The main vessel types were all objects for day-to-day use: bowls, dishes, plates, ear-shaped cups, wide-mouthed urns, spittoons, incense burners, jars, boxes, lamps and cup holders. Some special products included cylindrical jars with lids, round and flat cases, as well as tea cups and complete tea ware sets. These were rare among contemporary products of porcelain kilns.
Deqing kilns black porcelain had relatively thick glaze that was either dark brown or brown sienna. The better quality pieces had smooth, glistening glazed surfaces that were pitch black. Celadon was mostly covered in slip clay on top of its body, and with a light-green, blue green or yellow-blue glaze. The glaze was deep and quite glossy with only simple decorations; the rim of the mouth, the belly and shoulder were impressed with parallel line patterns.
Collections of Deqing porcelain can be found in the Shanghai Museum and other major museums in China. Deqing porcelain is also coveted by many private collectors, especially the rare black chicken-headed jar, which earns top spot on the list of every collector. One such article is on display at the Beijing Forbidden City Museum. The vessel has a wide-mouthed top, narrow neck, a round belly and a flat base. The characteristic feature is its spout which is modelled after a chicken’s head.