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By this time, kaolin and pottery stone were mixed in about equal proportions. Kaolin produced wares of great strength when added to the paste; it also enhanced the whiteness of the body—a trait that became a much sought after property, especially when form blue-and-white wares grew in popularity. These sorts of variations were important to keep in mind because the large southern egg-shaped kiln varied greatly in temperature. Near the firebox it was hottest; near the chimney, at the opposite end of the kiln, it was cooler. Primary source material on Qing dynasty porcelain is available from both foreign residents and domestic authors.

He then went on to describe the refining of china clay kaolin along with the developmental stages of glazing and firing. He explained his motives:. Nothing but my curiosity could ever have prompted me to such researches, but it appears to me that a minute description of all that concerns this kind of work might, be useful in Europe. In , during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor , Tang Ying, the imperial supervisor in the city produced a memoir entitled "Twenty illustrations of the manufacture of porcelain".

The original illustrations have been lost, but the text of the memoir is still accessible. Sancai means three-colours , green, yellow and a creamy white, all in lead-based glazes.

Porcelain - Wikipedia

In fact some other colours could be used, including cobalt blue. In the West, Tang sancai wares were sometimes referred to as egg-and-spinach. Sancai wares were northern wares made using white and buff-firing secondary kaolins and fire clays. The burial wares were fired at a lower temperature than contemporaneous whitewares. Tang dynasty tomb figures , such as the well-known representations of camels and horses, were cast in sections, in moulds with the parts luted together using clay slip.

They were either painted in sancai or merely coated in white slip , often with paint added over the glaze, which has now mostly been lost. In some cases, a degree of individuality was imparted to the assembled figurines by hand-carving. The major group of celadon wares is named for its glaze, which uses iron oxide to give a broad spectrum of colours centred on a jade or olive green, but covering browns, cream and light blues.

This is a similar range to that of jade , always the most prestigious material in Chinese art, and the broad resemblance accounts for much of the attractiveness of celadon to the Chinese. Celadons are plain or decorated in relief , which may be carved, inscribed or moulded. Sometimes taken by the imperial court, celadons had a more regular market with the scholarly and middle classes, and were also exported in enormous quantities.

Jian Zhan blackwares, mainly comprising tea wares, were made at kilns located in Jianyang, Fujian province. They reached the peak of their popularity during the Song dynasty. The glaze was made using clay similar to that used for forming the body, except fluxed with wood- ash. At high temperatures the molten glaze separate to produce a pattern called "hare's fur". When Jian wares were set tilted for firing, drips run down the side, creating evidence of liquid glaze pooling.

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Jian tea wares of the Song dynasty were also greatly appreciated and copied in Japan, where they were known as tenmoku wares. Renewed interest in the history and cultural heritage in China has revived starting in the s. Ting ware was produced in Ding County , Hebei Province.

Already in production when the Song emperors came to power in , Ding ware was the finest porcelain produced in northern China at the time, and was the first to enter the palace for official imperial use. Its paste is white, generally covered with an almost transparent glaze that dripped and collected in "tears", though some Ding ware was glazed a monochrome black or brown, white was the much more common type.

Overall, the Ding aesthetic relied more on its elegant shape than ostentatious decoration; designs were understated, either incised or stamped into the clay prior to glazing. Due to the way the dishes were stacked in the kiln, the edged remained unglazed, and had to be rimmed in metal such as gold or silver when used as tableware. Some hundred years later, a Southern Song dynasty writer commented that it was this defect that led to its demise as favoured imperial ware.

Although not as highly ranked as Ru ware, the late Ming dynasty connoisseur Gao Lian awards Ding ware a brief mention in his volume Eight Discourses on the Art of Living. Classified under his sixth discourse, the section on "pure enjoyment of cultured idleness", Master Gao says:. Like Ding ware, Ru ware Wade—Giles: The Ru kilns were near the Northern Song capital at Kaifeng. In similar fashion to Longquan celadons , Ru pieces have small amounts of iron oxide in their glaze that oxidize and turn greenish when fired in a reducing atmosphere.

Ru wares range in colour—from nearly white to a deep robin's egg—and often are covered with reddish-brown crackles. The crackles, or " crazing ", are caused when the glaze cools and contracts faster than the body, thus having to stretch and ultimately to split, as seen in the detail at right; see also [1].

The art historian James Watt comments that the Song dynasty was the first period that viewed crazing as a merit rather than a defect. Moreover, as time went on, the bodies got thinner and thinner, while glazes got thicker, until by the end of the Southern Song the 'green-glaze' was thicker than the body, making it extremely 'fleshy' rather than 'bony,' to use the traditional analogy see section on Guan ware, below.

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Too, the glaze tends to drip and pool slightly, leaving it thinner at the top, where the clay peeps through. As with Ding ware, the Song imperial court lost access to the Ru kilns after it fled Kaifeng when the Jurchen -led Jin dynasty conquered northern China, and settled at Lin'an present-day Hangzhou in the south.

There, the Emperor Gaozong founded the Guan yao 'official kilns' right outside the new capital in order to produce imitations of Ru ware. Characterized by a thicker body than Ding or Ru ware, Jun is covered with a turquoise and purple glaze, so thick and viscous looking that it almost seems to be melting off its substantial golden-brown body. Not only are Jun vessels more thickly potted, their shape is much more robust than the fine Jun pieces, yet both types were appreciated at the court of Emperor Huizong. Jun production was centered at Jun-tai in Yuzhou , Henan Province.

Usually the term in English only applies to that produced by an official, imperially run kiln, which did not start until the Southern Song dynasty fled from the advancing Jin dynasty and settled at Lin'an. It was during this period that walls become so thin and glaze so thick that the latter superseded the former in breadth. As the clay in the foothills around Lin'an, was a brownish colour, and the glaze so viscous. Ming dynasty commentator Gao Lian claims that the ge kiln took its clay from the same site as Guan ware, which is what accounts for the difficulty in distinguishing one from the other though Gao thinks " Ge is distinctly inferior" to Guan.

Once thought to have only been manufactured alongside Longquan celadon , per its legendary founding, Ge is now believed to have also been produced at Jingdezhen. While similar to Guan ware, Ge typically has a grayish-blue glaze that is fully opaque with an almost matte finish. Its crackle pattern is exaggerated, often standing out in bold black. Though still shrouded in mystery, many specialists believe that Ge ware did not develop until the very late Southern Song dynasty or even the Yuan dynasty. In any case, enthusiasm for it persisted throughout the Ming dynasty; Wen Zhenheng preferred it to all other types of porcelain, in particular for brush washers and water droppers although he preferred jade brush washers to porcelain, Guan and Ge were the best ceramic ones, especially if they have scalloped rims.

Ming versions substitute a white porcelain body; they tend to be produced in a range of new shapes, for example those for the scholar's studio; glazes tend to be thinner and more lustrous; and slip is applied to the rim and base to simulate the "brown mouth and iron foot" of Guan ware.

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Qingbai wares also called 'yingqing' [56] were made at Jingdezhen and at many other southern kilns from the time of the Northern Song dynasty until they were eclipsed in the 14th century by underglaze-decorated blue and white wares. Qingbai in Chinese literally means "clear blue-white". The qingbai glaze is a porcelain glaze , so-called because it was made using pottery stone.

The qingbai glaze is clear, but contains iron in small amounts. When applied over a white porcelain body the glaze produces a greenish-blue colour that gives the glaze its name.

Chinese ceramics

Some have incised or moulded decorations. The Song dynasty qingbai bowl illustrated was likely made at the Jingdezhen village of Hutian, which was also the site of the imperial kilns established in The bowl has incised decoration, possibly representing clouds or the reflection of clouds in the water. The body is white, translucent and has the texture of very-fine sugar , indicating that it was made using crushed and refined pottery stone instead of pottery stone and kaolin. The glaze and the body of the bowl would have been fired together, in a saggar in a large wood-burning dragon kiln , typical of southern kilns in the period.

Though many Song and Yuan dynasty qingbai bowls were fired upside down in special segmented saggars, a technique first developed at the Ding kilns in Hebei province. The rims of such wares were left unglazed but were often bound with bands of silver , copper or lead. One remarkable example of qingbai porcelain is the so-called Fonthill Vase , described in a guide for Fonthill Abbey published in The vase was made at Jingdezhen, probably around and was sent as a present to Pope Benedict XII by one of the last Yuan emperors of China, in The mounts referred to in the description were of enamelled silver-gilt and were added to the vase in Europe in An 18th-century water colour of the vase complete with its mounts exists, but the mounts themselves were removed and lost in the 19th century.


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The vase is now in the National Museum of Ireland. It is often held that qingbai wares were not subject to the higher standards and regulations of the other porcelain wares, since they were made for everyday use. They were mass-produced, and received little attention from scholars and antiquarians. The Fonthill Vase, given by a Chinese emperor to a pope, might appear to cast at least some doubt on this view. Following in the tradition of earlier qingbai porcelains, blue and white wares are glazed using a transparent porcelain glaze.

The blue decoration is painted onto the body of the porcelain before glazing, using very finely ground cobalt oxide mixed with water. After the decoration has been applied the pieces are glazed and fired. It is believed that underglaze blue and white porcelain was first made in the Tang dynasty. Only three complete pieces of Tang blue and white porcelain are known to exist in Singapore from the Indonesian Belitung shipwreck , but shards dating to the 8th or 9th century have been unearthed at Yangzhou in Jiangsu Province. It has been suggested that the shards originated from a kiln in the province of Henan.

In , excavations at the site of a pagoda in Zhejiang province uncovered a Northern Song bowl decorated with underglaze blue and further fragments have since been discovered at the same site. In a small fragment of a blue and white bowl, again dated to the 11th century, was also excavated in the province of Zhejiang.

In , shards decorated with underglaze blue were excavated at a kiln site in Jiangxi and, in the same year, an underglaze blue and white urn was excavated from a tomb dated to , in the province of Jiangsu. It is of interest to note that a Yuan funerary urn decorated with underglaze blue and underglaze red and dated is still in the Chinese taste, even though by this time the large-scale production of blue and white porcelain in the Yuan dynasty, Mongol taste had started its influence at Jingdezhen. Starting early in the 14th century, blue and white porcelain rapidly became the main product of Jingdezhen, reaching the height of its technical excellence during the later years of the reign of the Kangxi Emperor [57] and continuing in present times to be an important product of the city.

The tea caddy illustrated shows many of the characteristics of blue and white porcelain produced during the Kangxi period. The translucent body showing through the clear glaze is of great whiteness and the cobalt decoration, applied in many layers, has a fine blue hue. The decoration, a sage in a landscape of lakes and mountains with blazed rocks is typical of the period.

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