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Sang-de-boeuf glazed monochrome ceramics

Sang-de-boeuf is a French expression used to describe a particular type of red glaze applied to Chinese ceramic wares. The term sang-de-boeuf  translates as 'ox blood' and is known to the Chinese as 'lang yao hong'. Although this colour was first achieved during the Ming dynasty, it wasn't until the Kangxi (1662 - 1722) and later Qianlong (1736 - 1795) Emperor’s reign period that the colouring technique was truly mastered.


This distinctive deep, rich glossy red glaze was created by applying copper oxide as a pigment to the entire exterior body of the porcelain. Finally, the object was fired at a high temperature in a reducing atmosphere. Most sang-de-boeuf glazes tend to be finely crackled with a lustre which is supposedly created through the application of very finely ground cornelian or amethyst quartz.

Coloured glaze

Typically with sang-de-boeuf wares the coloured glaze runs thinly on the upper section and forms more thickly towards the foot. For example, the colour to a vases lip is usually drained away revealing the white beneath or occasionally a pale green tinge remains. Kangxi period examples often have a deep, cherry red streaked glaze effect with a downward flowing movement ending with an uneven line falling just short of the foot. The glaze to the base tends to be predominantly white or very occasionally green or yellowish in tone.

Technique lost

Towards the end of the 18th century a special technique of controlling the flow of glaze during the firing stage was unfortunately lost.  This resulted in the glaze running over the foot of the object meaning that the excess glaze to the foot had to be ground away. However, this indication can be helpful in determining the age of a sang-de-boeuf object.

Read about celadon porcelain, ceramics and stoneware.

If you have any porcelain that you would like to sell, then please contact Robin Newcombe, Asian art specialist at Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent.