T'ang San-t'sai Ceramics
7th - 8th centuries
Three northern kilns were responsible for producing the majority of lead-glazed san-ts'ai or "three-color" ware that furnished the tombs of the aristocracy for more than a hundred-and-fifty years of the T'ang dynasty. Developed during the seventh century, the new colors were achieved simply by mixing metal oxides to a lead fluxed glaze. The oxides included copper for green and iron for amber or brown. Together with a clear, cream glaze, they provided the three basic colors but, on rare occasion, expensive cobalt oxide for blue was added to the mix. The tendency of the glaze to run slightly accounts for the splashed effects and mingling of the colors that give san-ts'ai their exuberant effect. It is assumed that three-color ware was reserved for burial ware and was seldom, if ever, used in daily life.