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Chinese Ceramics
Ceramics
Ceramics
 
China Information - China Folk Culture and Art
Chinese Ceramics

Chinese Ceramics

Pottery, porcelain and ceramics are three easily confused terms to describe the earthenware production in China. Generally, pottery can be any
object made from porous clay and baked at a temperature ranging from hot, direct sunlight to baking, or firing, in a kiln at a temperature of about
1,000 degrees Celsius. It is usually neither hard nor stable. In order to produce ideal results, before firing, pigments or colours were supposed to
be applied to pottery. After firing, it can also be painted with almost any colours.
Porcelain is made from a mixture of special clays, often kaolin, which is made from decomposed crystals of granite, and fired at a very high
temperature of 1,350 degree Celsius, at which kaolin becomes white. It is hard and much more durable than pottery. After firing, porcelain can be
painted in a rainbow of colours and glazes, and then fired at a low temperature to seal the colour and harden the glaze. Even the word "china" is
often used to describe fine Chinese porcelain.
Ceramics is actually the general art of heating common clay to create an ornamental object. All pottery and porcelain are considered ceramics.

The history of Chinese ceramics began some 8,000 years ago with the crafting of hand-molded earthenware vessels. Soon after, in the late
Neolithic period, the potter's wheel was invented facilitating the production of more uniform vessels. The sophistication of these early Chinese
potters is best exemplified by the legion of terracotta warriors found in the tomb of Emperor Qin (221-206 BC).
Over the following centuries innumerable new ceramic technologies and styles were developed. One of the most famous is the three-colored
ware of the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), named after the bright yellow, green and white glazes which were applied to the earthenware body. They
were made not only in such traditional forms as bowls and vases, but also in the more exotic guises of camels and Central Asian travelers,
testifying to the cultural influence of the Silk Road. Another type of ware to gain the favor of the Tang court was the qingci, known in the West as
celadon. These have a subtle bluish-green glaze and are characterized by their simple and elegant shapes.
Blue and white porcelain was first produced under the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368 AD). This porcelain had blue decorations on a white background.
Potters of the subsequent Ming dynasty (1368-1644) perfected these blue and white wares so that they soon came to represent the virtuosity of the
Chinese potter. While styles of decorative motif and vessel shape changed with the ascension to the throne of each new Ming emperor, the quality
of Ming blue and whites are indisputably superior to that of any other time period.
The capitals of pottery and porcelain have been Yixing in Jiangsu Province and Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province respectively. Nowadays, the Yuan-
Ming cobalt blue and white style is popular everywhere in the world and has become the most favorite porcelain in more homes than any other
styles ever created by potters of Chinese history.


 
 


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