Chinese porcelain has always fascinated the world. It is a very old material which is considered a type of ceramic and was previously used to make different kitchen plates including dishes, bowls, cups while nowadays it is also used for modern uses including as bathroom tiles, sink and so on. There are several types of Chinese porcelain and each of them has a long, interesting history. There are hundreds and thousands of Chinese porcelain wares, but some of them are more important. A ware is a group of pottery, in this case ceramics, which are manufactured in similar methods.
Sancai is a Chinese porcelain ware which in its original language means three colors. But despite having that name, back in the past more than three colors were used to produce this type of pottery. This ware was created by firing kaolins and fire clays. There still are some antique dishes made off this ware and they are carefully saved because they are very fragile and expensive. Another important ware is the Ding one which was produced in the Chinese city of Chu-yang, close to Beijing. It has a white paste which is then covered with a transparent glaze. The Ding ware was so useful back then that it was also used by the king himself. Jun ware is a thicker ware which is covered with a special purple glaze. This ware was produced in Hunan Province and it was admired by the Emperor Huizong. And later, blue and white wares started to be produced by also using the transparent porcelain glaze. It is called blue and white because it was a white body which is painted on by blue patterns. This porcelain is also pretty old and it was firstly made in the Tang Dynasty which existed from 618 to 907 AD.
There are also other important wares but these ones were used the most throughout the years. Dishes which are made off these materials are very special because they represent different periods of China but however you must be careful while buying an antique because you might end up buying a fake one.
For more than a thousand years porcelain was one of the most admired products in the world. It played a central role in many cross-cultural exchanges, serving as an artistic symbol across great distances. Historians now believe that the cultural impact of Chinese porcelain has been greatly underestimated. Although there’s a wealth of literature written about Chinese porcelain, the experts in the field, such as historians and archaeologists, rarely consult the publications.
The dawn of Chinese porcelain has been announced by Shang Dynasty. The porcelain of that day served as a substitute for bronze and other metals, and was greenish in color. Later on, during the Eastern Han period, porcelain technique had greatly improved and the wares given a distinct name in order to differentiate them from a porous, softer earthenware. The new name was “tz’u”, which, later, during the T’ang dynasty, came to mean true porcelain.
Europeans first discovered true porcelain in Chinese blue and white wares of early to mid 1500s. It was love at first sight. Western merchants imported millions of porcelain items, prompting the English critic and writer Samuel Johnson to call it “the contagion of China fancy”. Others called it a “porcelain disease”, an obsessive desire to posses something that seemed exotic. For over a thousand years Chinese porcelain was greatly admired throughout the world, not just in Europe.
It influenced every ceramic tradition in the world, including Asia, Africa, Middle-East, and South America. Egyptian and Turkish potters combined Chinese porcelain decoration with Ottoman designs; Venetian potters adapted flower patterns from Turkish pottery, while Chinese craftsmen followed the design of Venetian glass makers in porcelain. Later, Mexican potters created their own blue and white flow wares because they wanted to imitate the Chinese. With their stress on simplicity and economy, Chinese porcelain craftsmen are closely related to their poets, writers, and visual artists. They seek to express harmony with the natural surroundings. Chinese artists often have looked for inspiration by withdrawing to remote areas, and these landscapes have become conventional themes of Chinese art.
The art of Chinese porcelain has played a crucial role in bringing the artistry of porcelain to different parts of the world, as well as to different and often seemingly unrelated disciplines (architecture, sculpture, silverwork, etc.) It set forth a novel and creative multi-cultural synthesis that has helped the way the world looks at a work of art.