Ru Kilns China

Terry Hurley
Ru kiln china

Considered by many to be the most precious of all the ceramics made in by the ancient Chinese, Ru kiln china is highly prized by museums and private collectors.

The Ru Kiln: One of the Five Great Kilns of China

The years of the Song Dynasty from 960 - 1279 A.D., were a time of great cultural change in China. During this time many kilns were built throughout China producing a vast array of pottery and porcelain ware. Official government kilns were set up and ordered porcelain made to specific standards of pattern and design. The styles were simple and natural with a light glaze.

The Emperor Huizong tired of the white porcelain produced in the kilns of Dingzou and Yaozhou and ordered a new kiln to be established, the Ru kiln. This Imperial kiln produced porcelain in a soft sky blue celadon with a beautiful glaze. In production for only twenty years under the rule of Emperor Zhezong, 1085-1110 A.D., and Emperor Huizong, 1110-1125 A.D., the Ru kiln was shut down when the Northern Song Dynasty fell to the Jin Dynasty. During those twenty years it produced vessels that were only used by the ruling family of China. Before being claimed as a kiln of the Imperial government, the Ru kiln produced wares for regular citizens

Along with Ru kiln, the four other great kilns of the Song Dynasty include Ding, Ge, Imperial and Jun kilns.

The Discovery of Ru Kiln

The porcelain of the Ru kiln is considered to be the most highly prized and rarest of all the ceramics made by the artisans of ancient China. This is because of the limited number of pieces that are in existence today. Before the discovery of the original location of the kiln in 1986, there were less then 60 pieces of Ru china intact.

The kiln site was found in the province of Henan, Baofeng County in the village of Qingliangsi. Through careful archaeological digging there have been 37 more pieces of Ru porcelain uncovered. Of those pieces, 22 were intact and the rest were fragments.

How Ru Kiln China was Made

Ru kiln porcelain has a beautiful smooth vitreous glaze that covers the entire piece including the rims of the mouth and feet. This is because the Ru kiln pieces were supported by thin pieces, called studs that left three or five tiny indentations, about the size of sesame seeds, on the base of the porcelain piece. The studs allowed the glaze to cove the entire vessel.

The glasslike finish of Ru kiln pieces range from a celadon green with a tinge of sapphire blue to sky blue. The pieces generally have fine, irregular crackles all over the surface, called crab claw veins by the Chinese.

Most of the pieces fired in the Ru kiln for the Imperial government were small, measuring only about 8 inches high with the largest measuring 12 inches in height. The mouths of most of the round Ru kiln wares measured from 4-6 inches in diameter. These porcelain pieces include:

  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Vases
  • Washer bowls
  • Brush bowls

Ru Kiln Porcelain Today

Most of the porcelain of the Ru kiln is housed in museums of China and other countries. The following are the known whereabouts of Ru porcelain.

  • More then 40 pieces are in The Palace Museums in Taipei and Beijing, China
  • Eight pieces are in the Shanghai Museum of China
  • Two pieces are in the Tianjing Museum of China
  • Two pieces in the Henan Museum of China
  • Seven pieces are housed at the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art in London, England
  • Two pieces are in the Rohsska Museum of Design and Decorative Art in Sweden
  • There are known pieces in private collections in the United States, China, Japan and England

Porcelain Pictures from the Ru Kiln

Click on the links below to view several of these highly valued antiques.

  • The Times of Malta shows a rare Ru washer bowl that was auctioned by Sotheby's in 2012.
  • A Ru bowl designed for washing brushed sold for about $38 million.
  • Sotheby's auction sold this fine example of Ru ware.

Rare Examples of History

The remaining pieces of Ru kiln china are valuable links to a civilization from long ago.

Ru Kilns China