Ceramic History Brief


¡¡¡¡In the history of Chinese ceramics, porcelain derived from pottery and appeared later. In the early years, people have made splendid achievements in ceramic field especially in Yellow River and Changjiang River drainage area where a lot of potteries and pottery fragments in the Neolithic age were unearthed at historical sites. Some of them were not only commodities, but also artworks such as ancient painted pottery and pottery figurine. With the development of pottery industry, the previous clay-strip forming technique has been changed to throw clay method, while advanced side-fired kiln and shaft kiln replaced ground firing. People at that time also got some experience on how to control the temperature. The highest firing temperature had reached 1100¡æ, which was quite close to the firing temperature between pottery and porcelain. In the early period of Yin and Shang Dynasty, the appearance of white pottery whose material was porcelain clay and hard pottery symbolized the transition from pottery to porcelain.



Decorative pottery

White pottery

Painted decoration pottery

¡¡¡¡The difference between primitive celadon and pottery is: Primitive celadon was harder and more durable than pottery. Because of the glaze applied to the surface of primitive celadon, it usually had a ringing sound when being knocked. But the measure of dealing with raw materials and clay was tough to some degree. The complicated processes such as filtrating, washing, pugging, mulling and aging were omitted; Moreover, the modeling was relatively drab due to the poor plasticity and the body was liable to crack due to its impurity; Besides, the glaze color was unstable and its thickness was uneven; as a result, the bareness of the tyre and flowing of glaze sometimes occur. Then, in Dong Han Dynasty, throw clay method was applied to make primitive celadon. The shape was regular, surface smooth and glaze thicker; the combination between tyre and glaze became compact and scalding rarely occurs. All the things mentioned above showed that a mature period for celadon was coming.

   £¨Primitive celadon-->celadon£©


Primitive celadon


¡¡¡¡In Dong Han Dynasty, the appearance of mature celadon in Yue kiln was a milestone in the history of Chinese ceramics. Wei Dynasty, Jin Dynasty, the South and North Dynasty were just the seedtime. At that time, celadon played an important role in ceramics, which was widely fired. In the mean time, a small quality of black glazed porcelain and white glazed porcelain were discovered. Because of the unity of different nations and the introduction of Buddhism, the ceramic style became various during this period.

    £¨Celadon-->Black porcelain-->White porcelain£©



black glaze

¡¡¡¡In the latter part of North Dynasty, white porcelain first appeared in North China. Iron content embodied in the tyre was controlled and the difficulty of color generation in iron was overcome. This laid a foundation for the appearance of ancient painted porcelain. The successful firing of white porcelain was another milestone in the history of Chinese ceramics. In Sui and Tang Dyansty, the Chinese politics, economy, culture and trade became unprecedentedly prosperous, which promoted the progress of ceramics industry, the expansion of ceramic market and later formed the situation of "celadon in south and white porcelain in north." Celadon was the main product of South China. Yue kiln was the typical representative with high artistic value. The tyre was light, thin and compact; the glaze layer was transparent and exquisite. White porcelain of Xing kiln in Tang Dynasty was the representative of "North white". The degree of whiteness in both body and glaze was good. Its body was compact and usually had a ringing sound when being knocked. From the late Tang Dynasty, many famous kilns appeared.

      £¨White porcelain£©


White glaze

White glaze

celadon glaze

¡¡¡¡Song Dynasty was the third prosperous period of the feudal society. Technology, culture, art and handicraft were highly developed. The ceramic industry was flourishing too. Porcelain kilns with regional feature spread all over the country, which formed the layout of "six kiln factions" and "five famous kilns". "Six kiln factions" were Ding kiln faction, Jun kiln faction, Yaozhou kiln faction, Cizhou kiln faction, Longquan kiln faction and Jingdezhen kiln faction. "Five famous kilns" were Guan kiln, Ru kiln, Ge kiln, Ding kiln and Jun kiln. After the establishment of Guan kilns in Song Dynasty, different artistic styles were formed in folk kilns. The famous porcelain city Jingdezhen grew up in Yuan Dynasty, and it was known for its blue-and-white porcelain, underglazed red porcelain and egg white porcelain.

£¨¡°Six kiln factions¡± and ¡°five famous kilns¡±£©

Accidental coloring

Greenish white porcelain

Inglazed red

¡¡¡¡In Ming and Qing Dynasty, Chinese porcelain art took on a brilliant and splendid look after thousands of years of development. Ancient painted porcelain became prosperous: such as blue-and-white, wu-cai, dou-cai, plain tri-color, underglazed san-cai, enamel color, fen-cai and so on. The painted porcelains in Ming and Qing Dynasty merged the ceramic art into a whole and gradually became perfect. Single color glaze were of various kinds: sacrificial red glaze, sacrificial blue glaze, Lang kiln red glaze, Jiangdou red glaze, yellow glaze, peacock green glaze and so on. Besides, new progress has been made in the making of ceramics. For example, wheel jiggering has replaced bamboo knife jiggering. Moreover, blowing glaze technology began to be used. From then on, the quality and quantity of porcelain increased rapidly. The ceramic industry of Ming and Qing Dynasty reached the summit and greatly influenced modern Chinese ceramic industry.

£¨Decorative porcelain£©

Dou cai

Blue and white

Fen cai

Jiangdou red