Chinese ceramics of the Song Dynasty (960–1279) constitute perhaps the foremost expression of ceramic art, not only in China but in the entire world. During the Song period, a unity of the essential components fundamental to the art: vessel shape, potting techniques, glaze, decoration, firing processes, and aesthetic theory were all combined in a high standard of excellence.
In general, the shapes of Song Dynasty are simple and sedate by comparison to what preceded them and what was to follow. Likewise, the glazes tend to be monochromatic and subtle, a fluid, integral part of the form of the vessel they cover, with a depth of color and texture that invites the spectator to both touch and contemplate.
Song aesthetic sophistication was matched by an incredible inventiveness, which led to a variety of classic wares, usually associated with a specific region of China. These included the court-patronized five famous kilns: Ru (汝), Guan (官), Ge (哥), Jun (鈞), Ding (定) wares; as well as the Longquan (龍泉) celadons. There are also the more pedestrian kilns, such as Cizhou ware (磁州窯), Yaozhou ware (耀州窯), and Jianyang ware (建陽窯). Several of these regional ceramic wares were so valued during their day that they were used as tribute and yearly taxes to the imperial court. In terms of technical expertise, inventiveness, and aesthetic perfection of glaze and shape, the Song period stands unrivaled for the quality of its ceramic ware.