This superb celadon vase embodies the rstrained elegance of Song dynasty. One of the beauties of this vase is its thick, unctuous glaze, reminiscent of jade. The glaze on the current vase also displays the ideal soft bluish-green colour, which was difficult for potters to achieve, but has always been greatly admired by connoisseurs. This particularly fine glaze type is often known by the Japanese name 'kinuta', which in fact is the term for a mallet, but which refers to Longquan mallet-shaped vases, which were imported into Japan in the Southern Song (AD 1127-1279) and Yuan (AD 1279-1368) dynasties, and became associated with the fine Longquan glaze. Another interpretation of the connection between ‘kinuta’ and Longquan celadon refers to the famous Japanese tea master Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591) who thought the sounds of Longquan glaze’s crackling is similar to the sounds of paper mallet knocking the pulp, and therefore named the Longquan wares ‘kinuta celadon’, see Xie Mingliang, Taoci shouji (Essays on Ceramics), Taipei, 2008, p.12.
A similar Longquan vase of lipped rim but has a more compressed body, included in the exhibition catalogue, Heavenly Blue: Southern Song Celadons, Tokyo, 2010, p. 43, fig. 13, measuring 21.7 cm. high. An example also of lipped rim but has a more curved silhouette is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, illustrated in Oriental Ceramics: the World’s Great Collections, vol. 12: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tokyo, 1982, monochrome plates, no. 52, measuring 21.3cm. high. A pair of Longquan long-necked vase of similar form and proportion but with straight neck were excavated from a Southern Song hoard in Jinyucun, Suining city, Sichuan province, illustrated in Heavenly Blue: Southern Song Celadons, op. cit., p. 140, fig. 15-19. Two more examples with straight mouth are in the Tokugawa Art Museum and Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, illustrated in Heavenly Blue: Southern Song Celadons, op. cit., p. 42, figs. 11-12. Compare also three long-necked vases with lipped rim, plausibly made in Guan kilns in Hangzhou: one covered with crackled celadon glaze is in the British Museum, London, illustrated in Asahi Shimbun, Song Ceramics, Tokyo, 1999, p. 100, no. 63; two covered with crackled yellowish glaze, known as beishoku celadon, illustrated in Heavenly Blue: Southern Song Celadons, op. cit., p. 82-83, figs. 58-59. Whether these three examples are products of Guan ware or Longquan ware is still subject to debate, however, there is no doubt that the present form was made to conform with contemporary court taste. Some scholars also suggested that when needed, the Longquan kilns also produced high-quality wares for the court in Hangzhou.