AskDefine | Define Celadon

Extensive Definition

Celadon is a term for ceramics denoting both a type glaze, and a ware of a specific color, also called celadon.


The term "celadon" for the pottery's pale jade-green glaze was first applied by European connoisseurs of the wares. One theory is that the name first appeared in France in the 17th century and is named after the shepherd Celadon in Honoré d'Urfé's French pastoral romance, L'Astrée (1627), who wore pale green ribbons. (D'Urfe, in turn, borrowed his character from Ovid's Metamorphoses.) Another is that the term is a corruption of Salah ad-Din (Saladin), Ayyubid Sultan, who in 1171 sent forty pieces of the ceramic to Nur ad-Din, Sultan of Syria. Yet another is the word derives from the Sanskrit sila and dhara, which mean "stone" and "green" respectively.

Celadon glaze

Celadon glazes can be produced in a variety of colors, including whites, greys, blues and yellows, depending on the thickness of the applied glaze and the type of clay to which it is applied. However, the most famous celadons range in color from a very pale green crackle to deep intense greens, often meant to mimic the green shades of jade. The color is produced by iron oxide in the glaze recipe or clay body. Celadons are usually fired in a reducing atmosphere kiln. As with most glazes, crazing (a glaze defect) can occur in the glaze and, if the characteristic is desirable, it is referred to as crackle glaze.
Large quantities of Longquan celadon was exported throughout East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Much has been written on the various qualities of its glazes, the most celebrated being a glaze of a decided blue cast sometimes referred as kinuta in Japanese. Traditionally in China other tints and textures have had their places and continue to be admired.
Traditional Korean celadons can be considered a development of Chinese celadon with distinctive Korean directions in the ware. The most distinctive are decorated by overlaying glaze on contrasting clay bodies. With inlaid designs, small pieces of colored clay are inlaid in the clay used to produce the ware. Carved or slip-carved designs require layer[s] of a different colored clay adhered to the base clay of the piece. The layers are then carved away to reveal varying colors. Korean celadonware, usually a pale green-blue in color, developed, flourished, and was refined during the 10th and 11th centuries. Both the Mongol invasion in the 13th century and the Japanese invasion in the 16th centuries dealt blows to the craft. With the Japanese invasion, many potters were abducted and forcibly relocated to produce porcelain in Japan which has resulted to develop a porcelain and tea industry of Japan.
Since around 1420 the Counts of Katzenelnbogen owned the oldest European import of seladon, exposed in Kassel in the Landesmuseum . Japanese celadon originally took its inspiration from Korean wares. However the golden age of the Japanese variety only reached its height in the 1800s with the development of Kyoyaki (Kyoto Ceramics) and the celebrated potter Aoki Mokubei (1767-1833). His celadons paid conscious homage to Chinese wares. This was especially so for late Ming period celadons with their bright greens in a departure from tradition Japanese taste in Chinese celadon which favored a blue glaze known as kinuta.
Celadon in German: Seladon
Celadon in Estonian: Seladon
Celadon in French: Céladon
Celadon in Dutch: Celadon
Celadon in Japanese: 青磁
Celadon in Swedish: Celadon
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