Celadon is a celebrated type of pottery that originated in Asia and is defined by its distinctive jade green glaze.
Although the pottery comes from Asia, the term ‘celadon’ is European. It is possible that the 17th century shepherd Celadon in Honoré d’Urfé’s L’Astrée is linked to the origin of the term, as he was known for wearing pale green ribbons. It is also possible that the name comes from an interpretation of the name Saladin, the Ayyubid Sultan who sent celadon pieces to Nur ad-Din Zengi, the Sultan of Syria. The Sanskrit words sila, meaning green, and dhara, meaning stone, may also have given rise to the term.
Celadon glazes get their colour from the result of iron oxide transforming into ferric or ferrous iron in the firing process. Celadon wares are often decorated with shallow designs on the flat surface that creates a variation in the colour of the glaze. The surface of celadon wares often takes on a craquelure appearance.
Celadon pottery has been championed in Chinese culture since the Shang dynasty (16th century BC – 1046 BC). The Chinese have long admired and collected jade, which is associated with magical healing powers and immortality. Achieving the green glaze of celadon wares, with its slightly translucent hue, required a great deal of technical sophistication.