An Introduction to Jun Ware

By: Dara Vandor

Lot 154 – A Jun Purple-Splashed Dish, Northern Song-Jin Dynasty (960-1234) 北宋/金 钧窑天青釉紫斑盘  Estimate: $8,000—12,000 CAD

Characterised by their thickly potted and complex, opalescent blue glazes, Jun ware dates back around 1000 years to the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127). Considered to be among the “Five Great Kilns” of the Song Dynasty along with Guan, Ge, Ru, and Ding wares, Jun ware continues to be sought after by collectors today, in part for their understated yet contemporary aesthetic.

Developed in Henan province, Jun ware takes its name from Junzhou Prefecture (today’s Yuzhou or Yuxian), where they originated. The production of ceramics in this location lasted from the Song to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

Jun ware became widely imitated in China and Japan, with over 100 sites having produced Jun. Though distinctive, Jun ware did not conform to the same formulation throughout their history, so colours and applications vary across their years of production. Hues can range from greyish blue to plum and magenta, and are often overlaid with a delicate network of cracks in the glaze. Jun ware can often have streaks of red and purple, which originate from the iron and copper pigments used. The Chinese technique of yaobian was sometimes used, a production method that produced a variation of colour yielded by varying the temperature of the kiln. Glazes are thickly applied, and typically leave the foot of the piece exposed.


Scholars tend to differentiate between “official” Jun ware made for the Imperial court and “regular” or “classic” Jun ware. Though the “official” and “regular” Jun ware share a similar glaze and colour palette, per the British Museum, the “official” examples come from a single kiln site situated just inside the north gate of the administrative seat of Yuzhou prefecture. “Official” ware was only produced in the early Ming period, from about 1368 to 1435. These examples are also referred to as “Numbered” Jun ware, as they are inscribed with a single Chinese numeral ranging from one to ten on their bases. Some scholars suggest that these numerals may correspond to the size of the vessels, one being the largest and ten the smallest.

Official/Numbered Jun ware are only found in a limited and well-defined range of shapes. Designed for the cultivation and exhibition of plants, forms include shallow studded bowls, flowerpots, and vases, often modelled after ancient bronze vessels. By the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), numbered Jun ware were well collected by the Imperial family and were displayed within the inner sanctum of the Forbidden City. Some scholars suggest that “regular” Jun were only accessible to non-Imperial patrons by the Yuan dynasty period (1279-1368).

Lot 155 – A Jun Purple-Splashed Bowl, Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) 金 钧窑红斑碗. Estimate: $3,000—5,000 CAD

About the Auction

Waddington’s is pleased to include two examples of Jun ceramics in our July 2024 auction of Asian Art, lots 154 and 155.

Other highlights include a large Yuan/Ming Fresco, an 18th century Tibetan Gau Shrine from the Ducas Collection, a 9th/10th century Pala Avalokiteshvara Stele, and an Edo period ‘Rakuchu Rakugai zu’ Screen, Archaic and White Jades from the Albert Y.P. Lee Collection, and Himalayan and South Asian Sculptures and Paintings, Japanese Lacquerware, and other Asian artwork from the Janak Khendry Collection.

Public previews will be held at our Toronto location, 275 King Street East, Second Floor:

Sunday, July 14 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Monday, July 15 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Tuesday, July 16 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Or by appointment.
The auction is available for bidding through July 18.

Please contact us for more information.

Important Note:
We launched a new auction platform on May 10, 2024. Please create your new account to participate in our auctions.

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