Longquan celadon (龍泉青磁) refers to Chinese celadon produced in Longquan (龍泉) kilns which were largely located in Lishui prefecture in southwestern Zhejiang Province. With those in other prefectures the total of discovered kiln sites is over two hundred, making the Longquan celadon production area one of the largest historical ceramic centers in all of China.
Celadon production had a long history at Longquan and related sites, but it was not until the Five Dynasties (五代 907–960) and Northern Song (北宋 960–1127) period that production of scale truly began. Five Dynasty wares displayed a variety of shapes and carved finishes with the characteristic "Yuezhou" (岳州) glaze. In the Northern Song period the Dayao (大窯) kiln site alone produced wares at twenty-three separate kilns. The era of greatest ceramic production was not until the Southern Song 南宋 (1127–1279), Yuan (元 1271–1368) and Ming (明 1368–1644) periods.
Longquan celadons thus were an important part of China's export economy for over five-hundred years. From the twentieth century native and foreign enthusiasts and scholars have flocked to the kiln sites. Among modern Chinese scholars themselves, the main kiln sites were first systematically investigated by Chen Wanli in 1927 and 1934. According to local gazetteer entries two celebrated ceramicists and brothers, Zhang Shengyi (章生一) and Zhang Shenger (章生二), worked at the main Dayao kilns The Longquan Prefecture Gazetteer (龍泉省志) noted that their celadon reached jade-like perfection. Thus began the Ming period tradition of dividing the best Longquan wares into Elder Brother and Younger Brother categories. Elder Brother ware was thought to be the Geyao (哥窯) crackle glaze ware treasured by collectors throughout history. Recently this confusion has begun to resolve itself with excavations of the Hangzhou (杭州) official ware kilns and others.
Southern Song celadons display the greatest variety of shape and glaze color. Japanese tea masters and collectors have treasured examples with a decidedly bluish glaze which they have termed "kinutaseiji" (砧青瓷). Chinese collectors have perhaps enjoyed a greater variety of Longquan ware and devised a special vocabulary to describe them such as meizi ching or "plum green" celadon. After the Southern Song period Longquan celadon experienced an expansion of production with a lessening of quality. However even the stoutly potted celadons of the Ming period have had their imitators at Jingdezhen (景徳鎮) and in Japan. Scholarly appreciation of Longquan celadon experienced great progress with the discovery of a sunken trade vessel in Sinan County off the Korean coast in 1976. It was discovered that finely finished Southern Song style celadon was manufactured well into the Mongol or Yuan period.
- Zhejiang Light Industry Office, A Study of Longquan Celadon, Wenwu Publishing House, Beijing, 1989.
- National Museum of Korea, Special exhibition of Cultural Relics Found Off the Coast of Korea, Samhwa Publishing Co., Seoul, 1977.
- Hanaoka and Barberri trans., Masahiko Sato, Chinese Ceramics: A Short History, Weatherhill, New York and Tokyo, 1978.
- 어은영 (2007-04-14). "중국보물선에 실린 용천청자(用天靑瓷)" (in Korean). Internet Daily NewsHankuk. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
- "Longquan ware". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
- A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics from The Metropolitan Museum of Art