To many tea and traditional pottery lovers, Ru Kiln or Ru Yao 汝窑 is a term that conjures images of a rich, jade like texture, pure and deep hues, and a smooth yet subtly cracked surface. Here is a simple introduction to one of China’s most celebrated ceramic arts, Ru Kiln Pottery.
Ru kiln, originates in the late Song dynasty (around 700 years ago), the location of the kiln was in Ru zhou 汝州, hense the style became known as “Ru Kiln.” There were 5 famous kilns in the Song Dynasty: Ru kiln, Guan Kiln, Ge kiln, Jun Kiln and Ding Kiln. Ru kiln was labeled, “top of the 5 kilns,” and was the official royal kiln, producing products only used by the Emperor and his family. What makes Ru kiln antiques especially valuable was the short period that the kiln operated during the Song Dynasty, only around 20 years. Today only a total of 67 pieces from that period have survived. Reflecting it’s imperial origins, Modern Ru Kiln represents a form of sophisticated luxury in the tea world.
Today, Jingdezhen Masters working with traditional recipes and methods have revived the art form. Since the technique is evolving, the modern Ru kiln pieces can be made in a way that closely mirrors the techniques of the Ru kiln from the Song Dynasty. According to archaeological discoveries, the Ru kiln of the Song Dynasty was located in a village called Qing Liang temple( 清凉寺). It was in this little temple, that the craftsmen created the magical recipe for this amazing pottery- Ru Kiln.
During the Song Dynasty, there was a saying, “One would rather have one piece of Ru kiln pottery than to have a fortune”, it shows how valuable Ru kiln was. Here are the 4 specialties of Ru Kiln pottery:
1) Opening crack ( 开片 kaipian): This means the opening cracks on the glaze. When firing the pottery, and as the body expands, cracks appear on the surface of the glaze.
2) The azure glaze: There is a line from a poem that describes this specific color-“The azure in the sky after the rain”. I think this is the perfect way to describe it, by giving a great picture: It’s refreshing, pure, rich, just like Jade.
3) Grey pottery body: We can see this in some broken pieces of Ru kiln pottery in museums, the body is thin and grey color, like the color of ashes. Generally, the side walls of Ru kiln pottery are thinner than the bottom.
4, Plain: Generally, Ru kiln pottery is plain, without any painting or decoration. However, some modern artists paint some blue-and-white designs to give the pottery a bit of personality.
Nowadays, we can easily find Ru kiln pottery on the market. As we have said, there are only 67 original Song Dynasty Ru Kiln pottery in the world, so all the pottery you can find in the market is the result of either artists or factories attempting to recreate this ancient style. It is not easy to follow the traditional recipe to successfully create a high quality Ru Kiln piece. It requires ancient knowledge, professional skills and years of experience. Our Ru kiln Master 李善明（Lee Shanming) is one of the most famous and accomplished Ru kiln artists in China. His work, featured in our Shop, is among the best examples of modern Ru Kiln on the market today.
This is definitely my favorite pieces by Master Lee. The color is Shiny red (霁红汝窑). In order to add the red to the glaze, the artist needs to add iron to it, and fire it. If the temperature is too high, the iron would turn into some black metal spots, and if the temperature is not high enough, the red is dull and rusty-colored. Because of the difficulty in properly firing red Ru Kiln, it has the highest scrap rate of any color and requires a great deal more time and error to produce a piece. To me, it’s really my luck to find this perfect piece, every batch is a little different, the color in your heart, you can either find it or you can’t
Here are some tips when caring for your Ru Kiln piece:
1 Warm your Ru kiln ware a bit before pouring hot tea or water into it, and avoid sudden and extreme changes in temperature as it will cause the surface to crack further.
2, After using Ru Kiln teaware for a while, the cracks will begin to pick up the color of the tea, this is called the opening cracks effect, it’s the specialty of all the cracked porcelain. Some people like it a lot and want to see it sooner, this can be accomplished by soaking the piece in tea.