Tang Three-colour Glaze Jar

Tang Three-colour Glaze Jar

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A Brief History Of Chinese Ceramics

A Brief History Of Chinese Ceramics

In China, earthenware 7000-10000 years old from the Neolithic age has been discovered in Henan, Hebei, Jiangxi, Zhejiang and Guangdong Provinces as well as in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. For example, earthenware shards estimated to be 9700-10500 years old have been excavated at Nanzhuangtou, Xushui, Hebei Province. Shards estimated to be 7600-10000 years old have been found at Xianrendong. Wannian, Jiangxi Province, and shards of approximately 7600-9000 years old have been discovered at Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Restorable pieces from 6000 B.C.-5200 B.C. have been unearthed from sites in Cishan, Wuan, Hebei Province and Peiligang, Xilizheng, Henan Province.

After this, individual styles of earthenware developed in roughly three areas: the region along the middle and upper Yellow River, the region along the lower part of the Yellow River, and the region in Jiannan, which lies in the south of Changjiang. Remains of kilns used for firing pottery have been discovered in these regions.

In the area along the middle and upper Yellow River, the Laoguantai culture (Shaanxi Province) was established in 4500 B.C., and gray ware has been unearthed from the Beishouling ruins. The Yangshao culture flourished later, settled at Banpo from around 4000 B.C. and at Miaodigou from around 3300 B.C. Around this time, painted earthenware with patterns painted in black on the clay surface began to appear. Around 3300 B.C. the ware became more colorful with the addition of red pigment. Painted earthenware was also fired in the western provinces of Gansu and Qinghai, products of what is known as Gansu Yangshao or Majiayao culture. Later, the Banshan culture (ca. 2600 B.C.-) and Machang culture (ca. 2200 B.C.-) evolved, and in Gansu Province the culture of painted earthenware continued for a long period of time, through the Qijia and Xindian cultures up until the Warring States period.

Along the lower part of the Yellow River, from Shandong Province to Jiangsu Province, the Dawenkou culture (4500 B.C.-2400 B.C.) developed. During the early Dawenkou period mainly red ware was produced, shifting to painted earthenware in the middle of the period. During the later Dawenkou culture, gray ware, black ware, and white ware were produced using potter’s wheels and kilns capable of reduction firing. The succeeding Longshan culture (2400 B.C.-2000 B.C.) is known for skillfully crafted black ware with walls as thin as egg shells.

From around 5000 B.C. the Hemudu culture developed in Zhejiang Province, and from northern Zhejiang to Jiangsu Province the Majiabin culture (3600 B.C.-2700 B.C.) chiefly produced red ware and gray ware, and the Liangzhu culture (ca. 2750 B.C.-1890 B.C.) produced black ware. From Sichuan Province to Hubei Province, influenced by the Hemudu culture, red ware was produced in the Daxi culture and black ware was produced in the Qujialing culture (Hubei Province – Henan Province).
The Xia – Shang – Zhou – Qin – Han Dynasties

During the Shang dynasty, which is believed to have begun around 1600 B.C., high quality bronze ware was produced, and there are also examples of white pottery modeled on bronze vessels. The technique of glost firing was developed, and ash glazed ware based on gray-ware forms was fired. This ware is also known as ‘proto porcelain.’ From the end of the Spring and Autumn period (772 B.C.-481 B.C.) until the Warring States period (403 B.C.-221 B.C.), vitrified pottery with impressed decoration was produced, and there are also many examples of ash-glazed ware patterned after bronze vessels.

The elaborate burial customs, as seen in the figures of troops and horses buried in the tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuangdi, began in the Warring States period and increased in popularity from the Qin dynasty (259 B.C.-210 B.C.) through the Western and Eastern Han dynasty (202 B.C.-8 A.D./25 A.D.-220 A.D.). Large amounts of gray ware and colored gray ware for mortuary purposes were fired during this period. In addition to the high-fired ash-glazed pottery, low-fired (800-900 degrees) lead-glazed pottery was also developed. Lead-glazed ware, also used as mortuary vessels, includes green-glazed ware, which uses copper as a colorant and brown-glazed ware, which uses iron. Green-glazed ware was made in a variety of forms, such as towered pavilions, dogs, wells, and jars.

In the Eastern Han dynasty celadon of substantial quality appeared, and kilns where celadon was fired have been discovered at Shangyu, Ningbo, and Yongjia in Northern Zhejiang Province. There are examples of jars with four handles and straight mouth rims, representing the beginning of Yue ware celadon.
The Three Kingdoms, Western and Eastern Jin, and Southern and Northern Dynasties

From the Three Kingdoms period through the Western Jin dynasty, Yue celadon developed its own individual forms. Examples include burial jars with pavilions attached to the top and human and animal figures applied, or ewers with dish-shaped mouths, handles and spouts in the shape of chicken or sheep heads. Funerary urns developed from the jars with four small jars attached, produced in the Eastern Han dynasty, and were made in between the second half of the third century and the fourth century. The ewers with chicken spouts were first made in the Eastern Jin period in the fourth century. We also see many vessels in animal forms including sheep, lions, dogs, chicken and frogs. A celadon vase with iron painted decoration has been excavated from a tomb of the Three Kingdoms period in Yuhuatai, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province. Wares with iron spotted decoration and black-glazed ewers with chicken spouts were produced in the Eastern Jin dynasty. In the Southern dynasties, influenced by Buddhist art, lotus petal designs became popular. The early Yue ware forms of the Southern dynasties, such as the jars with dish-shaped mouths, can be seen through the Sui and into the Tang dynasty.

At the same time, northern China was entering the Sixteen Kingdoms period. White porcelain, made from white clay, glazed with clear glaze and fired to a high temperature, was produced during the Northern Qi dynasty (550-577). Low-fired lead-glazed ware was also produced, and pieces with green glaze poured over yellow glaze have been excavated from a Northern Qi tomb. This technique is believed to have later developed into the Tang sancai or three-color-glazed ware. The pieces from this period reveal influence of west Asian culture, such as patterns of grapes, palmetto, and connecting ring pattern. This trend continued through the Sui dynasty (581-618). White porcelain was fired at the Gongxian kilns in Henan Province and the Xing kilns in Lincheng and Neiqiu counties in Hebei Province.
The Tang Dynasty

Chinese culture in the Tang dynasty (618-986) began to contain more multicultural elements, and thus new forms appeared. The Yue kilns of the 7th century apparently continued to produce works with the forms and glazes of Old Yue ware, such as vases with dish-shaped mouths. These wares were fired not only at the Yue kilns of northern Zhejiang Province, but also in the south of Zhejiang Province through Fujian Province and Jiangxi Province. In northern China, production of wares such as Yaozhou black ware, white glazed ware and Xing white porcelain increased. In the late Tang dynasty, the Ding kilns in Quyang, Hebei Province fired white porcelain. Ware coated with white slip and then covered with clear glaze was produced at the Hebi, Mixian, and Dengfeng kilns in Henan Province, and also spread to other kilns in Henan, Hebei, Shandong, Anhui, Shanxi and Shaanxi Provinces. At these kilns during the Five Dynasties, white-glazed ware decorated with green pigment was developed, as well as a type of ware decorated with underglaze iron. The sgraffito decorative technique was also used on ware made from white clay, a method which continued to develop into the Northern Song dynasty.

Colored yong figures as mortuary objects continued to be produced in large quantities, many of which with fine artistic forms. Sancai or three-color decoration was popular among lead-glazed wares. Most Tang three-color decoration wares were made as mortuary vessels. Such pieces have been discovered at the Xingzhou kilns (Neiqiu, Hebei Province), Yaozhou kilns (Tongchuan, Shaanxi Province), and the Gongxian kilns (Gongxian, Henan Province). The culture of the imperial court, which flourished from the early Tang dynasty until its peak period, went into decline after the rebellions (755-763) of An Lushan and Shi Siming. The Yue kilns began to develop a new type of celadon, different from Old Yue ware. From the second half of the 8th century through the second half of the 9th century, bowls with a bi-shaped foot were produced there. This style can also be seen at other kilns such as Xingzhou.

In the Chajing (ca. 761), Lu Yu discusses about Yue ware (Cixi, Zhejiang Province), Dingzhou ware (Yaozhou yao, Shaanxi Province), Wuzhou ware (Jinhua, Zhejiang Province), Yuezhou ware (Xiangyin, Hunan Province), Shouzhou ware (Huainan, Anhui Province ) and Hongzhou ware (Fengcheng, Jiangxi Province), and among white porcelain, he mentions the bowls of Xingzhou ware. After this, the Yue kilns fired “secret color” mise celadon, as can be seen in the pieces excavated from the underground palace at Famensi temple (874). The major kiln firing secret color celadon was at Shanglin in Cixi, Zhejiang Province and Qianshi, ruler of Wuyue, had it produced in large quantities.

A large amount of pottery with underglaze copper and iron decoration was fired at Changsha in Hunan Province. A blue glaze using cobalt was often used on Tang three-color ware, and there are several known examples of Tang blue-and-white ware. Examples of early blue-and-white ware have been excavated from the Tang fortress site at Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province and Luoyang, Henan Province. True blue-and-white ware did not appear, however, until the Yuan dynasty.
The Song Dynasty

One of the most well known kilns of the Song dynasty is the Ding kiln (Quyang, Hebei Province), which was active from the end of the Tang dynasty until the Jin dynasty. The remains of the kilns are spread out across Jianci cun, Quyang, Hebei Province. During the Song dynasty, the Ding kilns fired mainly ivory-colored porcelain with carved and impressed decoration as well as green-glazed, black-glazed, and brown-glazed wares. There are also examples of pieces with elegant designs of dragons and phoenixes made for the imperial court. The porcelain clay used at the Ding kilns was fine, hard, and white in color. The pieces have thin walls, and the forms are sophisticated, giving a feeling of stability. The Ding potters developed the fu shao technique of firing pots upside down on their edges to avoid warping, thus increasing productivity. This method, however, makes it unable to apply glaze to the rim, and many Ding pieces have metal bands covering their rims.

During the Five Dynasties, celadon as well as pure white porcelain was fired at Yangmeiting, Huangnitou, and Hutian in Jingdezhen (Jiangxi Province). The celadon was in the Yuezhou style. The white porcelain fired from around the 11th century was mainly blue-white qingbai ware, of which a large amount was produced. Here, too, pots were fired upside down on their mouth rims from around the 12th century. In addition to Jingdezhen, qingbai ware was produced at Jizhou and Nanfeng in Jiangxi Province, Dehua, Jian, and Pucheng in Fujian Province, as well as kilns in Guangdong Province, Anhui Province and Zhejiang Province, establishing a network of qingbai kilns.

The Yaozhou kilns fired white slip ware and black glazed ware as part of the Cizhou network since the Tang dynasty, but celadon thought to have been influenced by Yue ware was also produced there. The celadon fired at the Yaozhou kilns in the Five Dynasties was superior in glaze color and form, also been known as Dong yao. In the Northern Song dynasty, the kilns produced ware with an olive green glaze and carved decoration made in a distinct carving technique called katagiribori in Japanese, in which the carving was made with a knife held at an angle, making the glaze pool into the carved area to render a three-dimensional effect. The center of production of Yaozhou ware was Huangpuzhen, Tongchuan City, Shaanxi Province, and there large quantities of high-quality bowls and dishes with carved or impressed patterns were produced. In the Song dynasty, the fuel for kilns changed from wood to coal, and provincial kilns such as those at Linru and Baofeng began to produce works in the Yaozhou style, establishing a network of kilns producing Yaozhou-type ware. The Yaozhou kilns of the Five Dynasties, influenced by the secret-color celadon of the Yue kilns, pursued the ideal celadon color, which eventually led to Ru yao. Ru ware is believed to have been produced at kilns at Qingliangsi, Baofengxian, Henan Province. These kilns fired not only Ru ware but also Jun style ware and Yaozhou style ware as well. Ru ware is delicately crafted, with fine crazing in the glaze, and was fired supported by tiny needle-like spurs. Extant examples of Ru ware are extremely rare. In 1127, under the attack from the Jin (Jurchen), the Song court moved its capital to Lin’an (Hangzhou), in which the Southern Song official kilns were established. Records show that kilns such as Xiuneisi kilns and Jiaotanxia kilns were operated as Southern Song official kilns. At present, the excavation of the Jiaotanxia kilns (Wuguishan, Hangzhou City) has been reported on, and kilns thought to be the Xiuneisi kilns have been excavated at Fenghuang shan and Laohudong. One characteristic of the Southern Song official wares is that the clay body contains a large amount of iron, resulting in a dark body, and the glaze is applied in thick layers. Pieces similar to the Southern Song official ware have also been excavated at Longquan and Yuezhou (Pengdong kilns).

Until the middle of the Song dynasty, the Longquan kilns produced wares whose forms and glazes were influenced by other kilns in the same province, namely Ou yao and Wuzhou yao in Zhejiang Province. The Longquan kilns are thought to have been established during the Western Jin dynasty, and were part of the Yuezhou ware network. Longquan ware evolved dramatically during the Southern Song dynasty, the number of kilns growing to hundreds scattering throughout the area, including Dayao, Jincun, Xikou, Anfu, Shantou, Dabaian, Shangyaner, and Anrenkou. Kilns such as Xikou fired dark-bodied celadon with techniques learned from the Southern Song official kilns. Many examples of Longquan celadon from the Southern Song and Yuan dynasties have been excavated, and a large number are also extant in Japan. Over 10,000 pieces of Longquan celadon were recovered from a ship which sank off the coast of Sinan, Korea in 1323. Also, in 1991, a large amount of Longquan celadon, along with qingbai ware, was excavated from a storehouse in Suining xian, Sichuan Province, which drew attention of the scholars. Longquan celadon of the later Southern Song dynasty with a superb glaze, covering the body thickly in two or three layers, is known as kinuta celadon in Japan.

Black-glazed tea bowls known as tenmoku in Japan were fired at kilns in various regions during the Song dynasty. Black-glazed ware was first fired in the Eastern Han dynasty, and there are examples of early Yue black-glazed ware from kilns such as Deqing, but it was not until the Northern Song dynasty that the technique was perfected, as seen in wares such as the Ding black-glazed bowls. Tea bowls with black glaze were produced all over China, including Cizhou ware, Yaozhou ware, Jizhou ware, and Jian ware. During the Southern Song dynasty large quantities of black-glazed bowls were produced at the Jian kilns (Shiji zhen, Jianyang xian, Fujian Province) and the hare’s fur tenmoku, oil-spot tenmoku, and yohen tenmoku are highly acclaimed. In Yonghe zhen, Jian City, Jiangxi Province, paper stencils were used to create reversed patterns. Other decorative techniques for tenmoku include those with a pattern made by firing a leaf onto the glaze surface, or taihi tenmoku, the surface of which resembles tortoise shell.

Cizhou ware is representative of privately operated kilns in northern China. It is characterized by pots covered with white slip and decorated with non-standardized, freely drawn patterns using the sgraffito technique. There are also outstanding examples of pieces where iron pigment has been brushed over white slip, and the pattern carved away in sgraffito. Kilns firing this black-glaze sgraffito ware were centered on Ci xian, in the south of Hebei Province. Other kilns firing Cizhou ware were located in Henan Province, Hebei Province, Shanxi Province, Shandong Province and Shaanxi Province. In northern China during the Song dynasty, the Cizhou kilns, Yaozhou kilns, Jun kilns and Ding kilns, while their production sites partly overlapping each other, all actively produced wares to meet popular demand. From the Jin dynasty in the 13th century to the Yuan dynasty, ware decorated with overglaze red and green enamel was produced at several kilns making Cizhou type ware such as Cizhou kiln in Hebei Province, Hebi kiln, Dengfeng kiln, and Yuxian bacun kiln in Henan Province, Zibo kiln in Shandong Province and Changzhi kiln in Shanxi Province. In the Yuan dynasty, Cizhou-style red enamel decorated ware was also fired at Jingdezhen.
Blue-and-White Ware and Wucai Porcelain

There are some early examples of blue-and-white ware from the Tang, Five Dynasties, and Northern Song dynasties. From the Yuan dynasty, number of excavated materials increased, making it possible to trace the stylistic development of blue-and-white ware. The bright cobalt blue that can be painted intricately on the surface of a white porcelain body enabled an entirely new pictorial expression. From the Southern Song dynasty to the Yuan dynasty, the main decorative methods employed at Jingdezhen were carved and impressed patterns. Carved porcelain also began to be decorated with red glaze, or raised beading can be applied to the porcelain surface. The same type of design was attempted in underglaze copper-red painting. The aim of decoration gradually moved towards the emphasis on the technique of expression rather than the subject itself. With the achievement of the use of underglaze blue, wares began to be painted with a great variety of patterns. With the freedom gained from the ability to use the brush to apply designs on pots, the range of decorative subjects suddenly broadened. The expressions attained with intricate brushwork and gradations in the blue color led to the development of realistic depictions not before seen on ceramics. In the mean time, large-scale dishes and jars began to be produced. As a result, the increase in the area of the surface to be decorated was unavoidable, and attention was focused on the subject of the “painting”. The white porcelain surface was viewed as nothing more than a background for painted decoration. Forms that followed after those of the Song dynasty included yuhuchun or pear-shaped vases and meiping vases. Those which first appeared in the Yuan dynasty included stem cups and seng maohu or monk’s-cap ewer.

Main decorative motifs included animals such as dragons and phoenixes as well as qilin, birds, fish, insects and plants such as peonies, melons, Japanese banana leaves and lotus. On the background of the main motifs are patterns of waves, ruyi lappets, Lama-style lotus petals, baoxiang-hua blossoms, peony scrolls and other auspicious symbols.

A blue-and-white covered jar excavated from the tomb dated 1319 in Jiujiang City, Jiangxi Province, is decorated with ruyi lappets, peonies, and lotus petals under the qingbai glaze. The blue-and-white with underglaze copper-red lidded jar with design of four gods and the blue-and-white with underglaze copper-red towered pavilion dated 1338 are also examples of qingbai porcelain decorated with underglaze pigment. A later example is the Temple vase with underglaze blue decoration of dragons among clouds in the collection of the Percival David Foundation, dated 1351. The form is a typical Zhizhen style, named after the Chinese year in which it was made, representing perfection and dignity. We can surmise that during this period there was a rapid process of development from qingbai ware to blue-and-white porcelain. It is believed that at this time, a number of decorative techniques existed simultaneously. The perfection of the blue-and-white technique made possible to depict more intricate designs, and the dexterous execution of various shades of the blue color enhanced the enrichment of decorative expressions. Jingdezhen blue-and-white ware of the Yuan dynasty was born under the influence of Islamic culture, for cobalt was imported from Islamic countries, the forms were inspired by Islamic metal vessels and the designs composed of a number of decorative bands were also borrowed from Islamic design. The Yuan dynasty Jingdezhen kilns were concentrated inside the city as well as in Hutian which is on the outskirts of the city. Hutian was a large kiln complex which produced qingbai ware. Fragments of a jar with applied beading have been discovered there, along with shards of blue-and-white ware whose design corresponds to that on large Yuan blue-and-white dishes found in the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul and other collections.

The Fuliang porcelain factory at Jiangzuo yuan is believed to have been established by the Yuan court in 1278. In addition to the Jiangzuo yuan porcelain factory there was also a painting factory where blue-and-white underglaze decoration was carried out. A large number of painters, including those from Islamic countries, were employed at this factory this is reflected in the geometric designs on some of the blue-and-white vessels in the collection of the Topkapi Palace Museum.

Within China, Yuan blue-and-white porcelain has been excavated from storehouses in Baoding, Hebei Province and Gaoan xian, Jiangxi Province. Yuan blue-and-white ware was also made for export, and is found in collections or excavated from around the world. For example, they are found in the collections of the Topkapi Palace Museum and the Ardebil in Iran, and has been excavated at the ruins of the Tughlug Palace, coastal areas in India, the Middle East Damascus, Hormuz, and Fustat of Egypt, and even in Fukui and Okinawa. In Southeast Asia, a large amount of Yuan blue-and-white ware which is different from the Zhizhen style ware has been excavated. However, although this ware was made for court use in the Yuan dynasty, there are almost no examples of it in the Imperial Collection, and there are more pieces of high quality Yuan blue-and-white ware in foreign collections than in China itself. This demonstrates the character of Yuan blue-and-white ware as export ware, and also reflects the assessment of Yuan blue-and-white during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Another decorative technique can be seen in the overglaze enamel decorated ware of the Jin dynasty Cizhou kiln. This ware features swiftly brushed simple patterns in red, green, and yellow. A well-known example is a bowl dated 1201, which is decorated with a sancai or three-color glaze and red pigment on a white-glaze background. During the Yuan dynasty, the Jingdezhen kilns also produced this type of ware which is similar to the Jin examples. As far as can be determined from shards excavated at Jingdezhen, this ware does not possess the formal qualities of official ware, but retains the liveliness of Cizhou ware. The style of Cizhou ware from northern China was transmitted to the Jingdezhen kilns in Jiangxi Province. With the perfection of the Zhizhen style decoration, blue-and-white ware underwent dramatic development but the overglaze enameling did not show much significant progress.

Recently, the imperial factory site (yuqichang) at Zhushan, Jingdezhen City has been excavated by the Jingdezhen City Archaeological Ceramics Research Institute, and some of the results of the excavation were introduced in the “Imperial Porcelain Extribition” (1995). Yuqichang was an official kiln established at the beginning of the Ming dynasty. Officials were dispatched there, and imperial wares were fired. There are various theories as to exactly when the imperial factory was established, such as 1369 (Jingdezhen Pottery Record), 1426 (History of Jiangxi) or 1426 even historical texts give different dates.

The Hongwu rulers banned sea commerce, limiting trade to imperial tributes. The supply of cobalt from Islamic countries was cut off, and potters began to produce porcelain decorated with underglaze copper red, borrowing designs from blue-and-white ware. Hongwu style ware followed the Yuan tradition, but porcelain decorated with underglaze copper-red was favored, and not much blue-and-white ware was traded. It is known from the Zhushan excavation that large porcelain vessels were produced in great amounts during the reign of Hongwu (1368-1398). The main decorative motifs of Hongwu blue-and-white and underglaze copper-red ware are plants such as peonies, chrysanthemums, Japanse banana leaves, pines, bamboo, and plums. They have no inscription. Bands of decoration around the main motifs include peony floral scrolls, chrysanthemum floral scrolls, lotus petals, Japanese banana leaves, cloud patterns, key fret patterns and wave patterns. Vessel forms include large bowls and dishes, jars, yuhuchun bottles, and meiping vases.

A shard of a dish featuring a dragon with five claws painted in red enamel over the porcelain glaze was excavated from the Hongwu palace at Nanjing. It is considered that the overglaze decoration technique was basically mastered during the reign of Hongwu, but it was not common at that time to combine two or three colors for decoration.

The “Great Zhenghe Expedition” took place in the reign of Yongle (1403-1424), with a large retinue conducting trade on an international scale. As a result, cobalt imports from Islamic countries resumed. The cobalt known as smalt has a low manganese content, resulting in a bright blue color. Pieces decorated in overglaze brown, red and gold have been excavated from the imperial kiln site in Jingdezhen. We can see from these shards that the painters were aiming for clearly expressed patterns in their overglaze work. Decorations in monochrome overglaze enamel were often attempted, but the major decorative technique remained blue-and-white ware. Red overglaze enamel and red glaze were thought to have been first used in the reign of Xuande (1426-1435), but it is now becoming clear that these techniques had already been perfected in the Yongle period. Designs were painted in overglaze or underglaze red on tianbai “sweet white” porcelain, the color which was unique to those produced in the reign of Yongle. Porcelain with green decoration on a yellow base, along with brown decoration over a green base was also produced during the Yongle period.

Yongle porcelain bears the inscription “Made in the Reign of Yongle”, but it was not common to inscribe pots with the name of the official kiln where they were fired. The practice of inscribing pots with inscriptions such as “Made in the Reign of Xuande” is characteristic of pieces from the mid-Xuande period and onwards which were excavated at the imperial kiln site. There is a wide variety of vessel forms, including globular flasks, flasks with flattened body, monk’s cap ewers, candle stands and large dishes. These are decorated freely with well-balanced designs of lotus flowers and floral scrolls. Some pieces, such as the “Blue-and-white dish with flower and bird design” have a pictorial quality which goes beyond mere decoration.

A wide variety of decorative techniques, such as doucai, were introduced during the reign of Xuande. Shards of doucai wares from the Xuande period are among the pieces which have been unearthed from Jingdezhen sites. These pieces were decorated with outlines in underglaze blue, inside of which are painted designs in overglaze red, yellow, green and purple. However, there are no known extant examples of intact doucai ware from the Xuande period. During this period, the decorative technique of painting a design of peonies or lilies in underglaze blue, then painting the surrounding background in overglaze yellow was perfected. The use of this technique began in the Xuande period and continued through the Chenghua, Hongzhi, and Zhengde periods.

Blue-and-white ware from the official kilns of the Zhengtong (1436-1449), Jingtai (1450-1457), and Tianshun (1457-1464) periods do not bear reign marks, but we know from historical records and from excavations at Jingdezhen that a variety of ceramics were actively produced during this period. As far as can be determined from pieces excavated at Zhushan, the wares produced during these periods continued in the style of Xuande ware. However, there are no extant examples of work with the decorative patterns as intricate as those of the Xuande period. Private kilns fired ceramics decorated with human figures or cloud patterns, known as undo-de in Japan.

In the Chenghua period, porcelains continuing in the Xuande tradition were produced, including some imitations bearing Xuande inscriptions. Most of the extant examples of porcelains from this period are relatively small. Though there is not a wide range of forms, some outstanding examples of bowls and dishes were produced during this period. Chenghua bowls known as “Palace Bowls” are especially highly acclaimed.

Very few examples of doucai porcelain from the Chenghua period is known but over 10,000 foot rims alone have been excavated from the imperial kiln site in Jingdezhen, indicating that doucai was produced in large quantities. This also gives us an idea of the strict quality control which was practiced at the time. Most doucai wares of the Chenghua period were small pieces such as cups and bowls. At the beginning of the Ming dynasty, more colors were added to the overglaze red and green. The excavation in Jingdezhen shows us the true richness of overglaze decoration in the Chenghua period, including overglaze monochrome enamel, wucai ware, doucai ware, ware decorated with underglaze blue and overglaze red, and ware with overglaze purple, green, or underglaze blue on yellow backgrounds, as well as ware with green designs painted on white porcelain or against a red background, which were also popular during the Jiajing period. Large numbers of jars inscribed with the character tian, meaning the sky or heaven, have also been discovered. The extant examples of Chenghua doucai are brilliant and refined, worthy of an official kiln.

Porcelain production in the succeeding Hongzhi (1488-1505) and Zhengde (1506-1521) periods is thought to have continued in the same way as in the Chenghua period, but extant examples as rare, with little more than a few pieces of ware decorated with designs in overglaze green or underglaze blue against yellow backgrounds.

In Jingdezhen, porcelain was produced at both the official kilns and private kilns. Beginning around the Jiajing period, however, orders for official ware from the imperial factory became so large that private kilns were commissioned to produce some of the ware. In this way the system of “officially controlled, privately fired” ware was established. As a result, the quality of the products of the private kilns improved, due to assimilation of production techniques and quality control. In this way, private kilns firing wares of superior quality were able to meet the demand of the wealthy class. The ware fired at these kilns included overglaze polychrome decoration of the traditional style. The Jiajing period saw the production of a variety of colorful wucai or five-color ware, and the variety of decorative motifs also broadened. The designs of dragons, phoenixes, bird-and-flower, fish, lotus ponds and peonies which were often seen in the products of the official kilns until the middle of the Ming dynasty underwent various changes during the Jiajing period. The conventional designs that had been handed down and copied within the official kilns began to show a decrease in the severity of decorative styles in the Jiajing period. In turn, there was a notable increase in the use of auspicious symbols as designs. This trend was observed chiefly in the products of private kilns. The ware known as kinrande was made in the Wanli period.

According to records, official ware was produced once during the Longqing period (1567-1572), and the wares bear the reign mark “Made in the Reign of Longqing.” In the following Wanli period, there was a dramatic increase in the variety of wucai or five-color enameled ware being produced. Blue-and-white ware with the same forms and designs as the wucai ware was also produced. Particularly notable are the large utensils such as wine vessels, censers, and candle stands as well as stationary such as brush cases, inkstones, brush holders, and brush rests. The decorations intricately cover the surface of the pieces, and in addition to decorative motifs used in the Jiajing period, auspicious designs such as deer and bats were also adopted. Pieces with openwork decoration were also produced. Porcelain produced at the beginning of the Wanli period was carefully crafted, but as tougher orders for production were assigned in the latter half of the period, the workmanship became coarser.

At the end of the Ming dynasty, private kilns in Jingdezhen fired large dishes known as “Kraak porcelain,” which were exported to Europe by the Dutch East India Company. At the end of the Ming dynasty private kilns replaced official kilns as the most active centers of ceramic production. From the Tianqi period (1621-1627) through the Chongzhen period (1628-1644) blue-and-white ware known as ko-sometsuke in Japan was fired. Following this, another type of ware in underglaze blue known as shonzui, or iro-e shonzui with overglaze painting, was produced. ‘Nanjing ware’ with overglaze decoration was exported to countries across Europe. Coarse polychrome and blue-and-white ware was fired at kilns in Fujian Province and Guangdong Province. Among these, the ware known as swatow ware, gosu-de and gosu aka-e in Japan was fired at kilns such as Zhangzhou yao, Fujian Province from the end of the 16th century until the middle of the 17th century.

At the beginning of the Qing dynasty, Jingdezhen private kilns produced wares of unrestrained forms and designs, the so-called “transitional-style” ware, which was made for export to Europe.

In 1680, the imperial factory resumed operation, and Jingdezhen became a thriving center of ceramic production. The three-color glazed decorations seen in the Wanli period reappeared in an even more sophisticated form, as represented by a dish with a design of delicately incised dragons and clouds along with painted pomegranates. The amount of carefully crafted ware with intricate five-color overglaze decoration increased. While the colors used in the Ming dynasty were red, yellow, green, purple, and black, more colors appeared during the Kangxi period (1662-1722). Also, many pieces with monochrome glazes of superb colors such as red, blue, and yellow were produced. In addition, the enamel painting technique which was used on metal and glass was applied to porcelain. In this case, the vessels were made at Jingdezhen and taken to the inner Palace workshops in Beijing to be decorated by imperial court painters. Utilizing this technique, the overglaze enameling technique of famille rose was developed at Jingdezhen. The opaque enamels used in famille rose made possible to achieve delicate painted decorations in a variety of colors and hues.

The famille rose technique began to be used in the Kangxi period, and in the Yongzheng period (1723-1735) a great number of works were created with realistic depictions of flowers and birds, represented in even more delicate gradations of color. As a result the blue-and-white ware of the official kilns experienced no further technical development, and gradually went into decline. The appearance of the famille rose technique represented one of the pinnacles of overglaze decorated porcelain.

In the Qianlong period (1736-1795) the number of decorative subjects increased, and the famille rose technique became even more intricate. As a result, polychrome porcelain imitating the texture of different materials such as lacquer, stone, and wood began to appear, which render a light, playful atmosphere. Rather than observing this phenomenon as the degradation of ceramics, we can view the works as avant garde challenges possessing a modern quality. Works known as guyuexuan and vases with designs of Western figures are representative examples of the overglaze enamel painted ware decorated by imperial court painters.

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The focus of The Chalre Collection is Chinese and Asian Tradeware Ceramics -- in other words, Ceramics that were traded throughout Asia. Tradeware Ceramics (Porcelain, Stoneware and Earthenware) tell the story of how the peoples of Asia forged social and commercial ties with each other during ancient times.

The Ceramic Art collection of Chalre Associates came about through the efforts of the firm's principals, Rebecca Bustamante and Richard Mills. It is intended that a significant portion of The Chalre Collection become property of a museum foundation or other public body in the future.

In creating the collection, major recognition must be given to Jose (Joe) Yusef Makmak for his considerable support and friendship. Our thoughts are with Joe, formerly a prominent ceramic antiquities dealer in Philippines, who passed away in 2008.

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Tang Dynasty Chinese Ceramics

The Sancai ( meaning three-colour) Porcelain style was predominant during the Tang dynasty (618 - 911). Its main origins are in northern China, in areas such as Chang'an, Shaanxi Province, and Loyang, Henan Province.

Sancai Ceramics are created in a wide range of decorative forms often with bright colours. Because of the style's liberal use of green, yellow and white, Sancai is sometimes called egg-and-spinach in the west. In earlier times, the ceramic style did not attract collectors since almost all of the pieces were originally burial objects. Today, most people appreciate the intense creativity of the ancient Sancai potters.

The Sancai technique used a low-temperature glazing and white clay, and later finishing pieces by firing at a temperature around 800C. Figures such as horses were formed by moulding and adding white clay. Glazes on Sancai pieces often flowed downward during firing and colours commonly appear uneven.


The Jun ware jar has 2 handles with 3 knobs on each side. It is covered with a crackled bluish glaze and purple splashes on the main body.

The artifact was created near Linru County in the province of Henan at the Jun kilns of Yuxian County during the Northern Song dynasty (960-1126) to the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) and Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). It was brought to Southeast Asia as a trade-good probably by an ancient Chinese trading ship and sold among one of the many thriving Chinese communities living in Southeast Asia. The object probably ended up as a burial object of a prominent individual. Centuries later, it was rediscovered by excavators and subsequently acquired by The Chalre Collection through a registered dealer.

Produced in the Sung Dynasty period (960 - 1279).

Artifacts with similar or identical shape and/or decorations are found in various publications including: Chinese Ceramics, The Art of Chinese Ceramics and other publications dealing with Tang era pottery styles.

Similar and/or identical items are also on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (UK), the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (USA), the National Museum of Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), the National Museum of the Philippines (Manila) and other museums throughout the world with diverse collections of Asian ceramics.

Specific references will be provided at a later phase of this site's development.

You can also become an expert in the identification of blue and white porcelain, don’t believe this article

Blue-and-white porcelain originated in the Tang Dynasty, until the Yuan Dynasty began to become everyone for the call of exquisite utensils.From Yuan Dynasty to Qing Dynasty, blue-and-white porcelain showed its rich characteristics in every era.You can’t miss the curio market unless you know the blue and white materials used in these times. You can also be a half-expert.Let’s study together today!

_ “The Theory of Reading Porcelain”

The three-pot Pegasus Foundation

In the history of ceramics, the different blue-and-white glaze tones on the blue-and-white porcelain have their own unique features.the Tang Dynasty (the Tang Dynasty)618-907) is the origin of blue glaze ceramics, blue-and-white porcelain at this time first seen in the prototype, to the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) is more brilliant than bright (1368-1644(c), (c), (c) (c)1644-1911The continuous development of the two dynasties has become one of the largest-burning varieties in the history of Chinese ceramics.Among them, the application of different kinds of cobalt materials can be described as blue-and-white hair color is an important key.

Qing Kang Xi, Qing Hua, Bo Gu, Kaiguang, Deli, Guanyin Bottle and Flower Bird, Guanyin Bottle

The earliest use of cobalt materials can be traced back to BC2000It is known that it was used as a blue colorant in West Asia at that time.But in Chinese archaeological excavations, only from the Warring States Period (BC)475-221At the beginning of the cultural relics of the period, there were traces of cobalt blue on the glass beads and instruments, which, according to their shape and workmanship, were most likely from Western Asia rather than something made in China.

Mingwanli blue-and-white seahorse with dragon pattern plum vase

Except for the glass process, there was no blue glaze ceramics in China until Tang Dynasty.On the road of ancient Chinese ceramic civilization, blue glaze appeared almost at the latest in all kinds of colored glaze.In the eyes of the ancients, blue is really not an auspicious color, but everywhere with blue, a little bit of horror.In particular, the dark blue is the coldest color in the blue system.The name of the evil spirit in the Buddhist scriptures is called Lan Fu, the statue is often painted on the face of the blue, with its color bluff peopleThe examination paper in ancient rural test has been defaced or not procedures, the examiner will use blue pen to write clear punishment, known as the “blue bill”Tang people in “Youyang Zu · Insect” wrote: “Blue snake, the first big poison…. The south of the first combined poison, known as the blue medicine, drugs stand dead.” Listening to the horror.

The social role of literature is always hard to get rid of, so before the Tang Dynasty, we have not found the slightest sign of blue glaze.From the accidental nature of burning, although blue is most likely to appear, but the craftsman may not want to dig out any “ominous” blue glaze products, so this situation continues until the three-colored Tang Dynasty blue glaze burst.

“In Tang Dynasty, the silk road was prosperous, and the cobalt material was introduced into China, and used as one of the ceramic glaze materials. It was used as decorative glaze on low-temperature pottery with other high-lead copper-green glaze and iron-brown glaze at that time. After firing, the glaze was bright and colorful, and the glaze was covered with small pieces.” Thus the creation of world-famous three-colored pottery.

Tang tricolour phoenix head pot, Met Art Museum, USA

Tang Sancai Ma Luoyang City, Henan Province Guan Lin Tang Tomb unearthed, Luoyang Museum collection

The three-color blue glaze color is full and bright, and yellow, green, white and other colors parallel, changeful, unexpected.It is often said that”Three colors plus blue, the value of the city”, but I am afraid that the present people are looking at a new look, it is not as strong as the people of the Tang Dynasty at that time their own feelings.

Tang Tri-color is an attempt, after which the ancient Chinese began to accept the blue glaze.The song people advocate the minimalist aesthetics, the song porcelain glaze pays attention to warm and smooth, the pursuit of tranquility reflects simplicity and elegance, but this also makes the cobalt blue material in the ceramic development of a state of stagnation.Until the Yuan Dynasty, in the grassland culture, the blue and white blue and white Mongolian to the wolf white deer totem belief _ as blue sky, white means pure good.Under the adoration of the ruler, blue-and-white porcelain with blue glaze as its main object of appreciation has flourished since then, and it has created the highest peak in the history of ceramics.

Yuan Qing Hua Gu Zi downhill picture pot

Yuan Qing Hua ZhaoJun plug can, Japan Deguang Art Museum, Tibet

Yuan Qing Hua Wei Chigong Savior Canister, Boston Museum of Art, USA

The cobalt material used in the Yuan Dynasty came from Persia, which was called “Su Ma Li Qing” or “Su Bo Mud Green”. Its iron content was high and it was rich in divergence. After firing, the green flowers had rust-like black and brown spots on the glaze, and the spots were sunken into the tyre, showing rich color and bright visual effect.

2017 Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction Ming Xuande blue-and-white mackerel pattern, ten edge rhomboid plate

Qing Hua peacock cave stone peony pattern plate in the 15th and 16th centuries of Ming Dynasty

By the Ming Dynasty, “Su Ma Li Qing” was expected to be in Yongle (1403-1425), Xuande (1426-1435), by Zheng He’s fleet of ships to the West introduced to China.In addition, the strict supervision of the Imperial Kiln Factory at that time led to the deep color of the forever and the Xuanqing flowers, such as precious stone blue, the later dynasty more to its Guigao, and has a “hair of the ancient, a generation of strange flowers” reputation.

Compared with imported cobalt materials, domestic cobalt materials are valued for their several sea bans during the Hongwu period (1368-1369).But this cobalt material contains high manganese content, light tone, hair color is also good and bad, so in the Yongxuan period blue and white porcelain production is not taken seriously.As far as Chenghua (1465-1487) and Zhengde (1506-1521) were concerned, the “equal green” (or “Pitang green”) produced by Leping, Jiangxi Province, was the main source of the glaze.As the “equal green” of the better, less miscellaneous quality, the firing of the blue and white color blending elegant, stable color, and a sense of obscurity, the achievement of this period blue and white porcelain unique features.

In addition to Leping, Jiangxi also produces a kind of cobalt material called “pebble green”.Its hair color black, most of the people’s kiln fired green flowers used at that time.But in the years of Jiajing and Wanli, a kind of “Hui Qing” from Central Asia, Xinjiang and Yunnan was difficult to be used alone, so it needed to be mixed with domestic pebble blue to be used.By adjusting its mixing ratio, this kind of green material has the upper green, the middle green cent.If the ratio of Hui Qing is higher than that of Shi Qing, then its blue and white hair color is purple and gorgeousOn the contrary, it is slightly gray-blue.

Qinghua to the Ming Dynasty, and in the Kangxi (1662-1722) another peak.At that time, we mainly selected Zhejiang materials produced in Shaoxing, Jinhua and Quzhou of Zhejiang Province, and painted them with the method of dividing the water into two parts, so that the finished products had clear blue color, clear structure and rich three-dimensional sense.

Qing Dynasty blue and white alum red water dragon pattern plate a pair

Qing Qianlong blue and white silkworm printing plate for longevity, a pair

After careful observation and comparison, this process can not only train the eye’s perceptual ability, but also enhance his understanding of the style of each dynasty and the connotation of aesthetic interest.

Tang San Cai tea or ginger jar 19th century

i first thought this was a ginger jar but this pretty little jar looks like it was used to hold tea. it is a turquoise green with flowers and a crane. i don't know anything about it yet so if u have any info leave me a message. no markers or asian writing on this one but i am sure it is asian. love this site!
i found an identical ginger jar for sale on a popular web site and here is what the owner had to say about this lovely jar:

This gorgeous Chinese Tang Sancai ginger jar was exported from China to the US sometime between 1890-1920, though it is older than that. It features an applied figural crane, lotus blossoms and leaves, and aquatic grasses, giving an overall three dimensional look. Done on a turquoise ground, the colors include, yellows, greens, pinks, white, and tan. It has a red stamp on its bottom that says "China" which helps to date it, as well as a partial customs stamp. Just a stunning piece!
Tang Sancai (or three colored ware) is a polychrome lead glaze decorated pottery. "Three-color" doesn't mean only three colors, but multicolored. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the production of Tang Sancai reached its peak, which is part of the reason the pottery got the name of Tang San Cai.

Unsure of maker dates from the mid to late 1800s.

i am soooo lucky!! mine did not have any labels stamped on the bottom but this jar is so unique i was able to find another on line. so far i have only found 2 others like mine and the information is the same. it is a genuine antique!

Tang Three-colour Glaze Jar - History

The focus of The Chalre Collection is Chinese and Asian Tradeware Ceramics -- in other words, Ceramics that were traded throughout Asia. Tradeware Ceramics (Porcelain, Stoneware and Earthenware) tell the story of how the peoples of Asia forged social and commercial ties with each other during ancient times.

The Ceramic Art collection of Chalre Associates came about through the efforts of the firm ' s principals, Rebecca Bustamante and Richard Mills. It is their intention that a significant portion of The Chalre Collection become property of a museum foundation or other public body in the future.

In creating the collection, major recognition must be given to Jose (Joe) Yusef Makmak for his considerable support and friendship. Our thoughts are with Joe, formerly a prominent ceramic antiquities dealer in Philippines, who passed away in 2008.

Word From Our Sponsor

Chalre Associates is a regional provider of Executive Search services in the emerging countries of the Asia Pacific region. Multinational companies use us to bridge the gap between the local environment and their world-class requirements countries like Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Our purpose is to enhance these organizations by identifying, attracting and developing outstanding people.

+632 822 4129

[email protected]
c eramics.c

Tang and Han Dynasty Ceramics

The Chalre Collection of

Three-Colour Sancai
(Main Period: 700 to 900 AD)

Examples of Three-Colour Ceramics of the Tang era from The Chalre Collection are listed below. Click on the icons for a full page description of each piece. More are being added on a regular basis and research into the origins, dating and descriptions of each artifact is ongoing, so please come back again. In the meantime, enjoy your discovery of The Chalre Collection of Asian Ceramic Art.

Tang Dynasty Chinese Ceramics

The Sancai ( meaning three-colour) pottery style was predominant during the Tang dynasty (618 - 911). Its main origins are in northern China, in areas such as Chang'an, Shaanxi Province, and Loyang, Henan Province.

Sancai Ceramics are created in a wide range of decorative forms with bright colours. Because of its liberal use of green, yellow and white, Sancai is sometimes called egg-and-spinach by collectors in the west. In earlier times, the Ceramic style did not attract collectors since almost all of the pieces were originally burial objects. Today, most people appreciate the intense creativity of the ancient Sancai potters.

The Sancai technique used a low-temperature glazing and white clay, and later finishing pieces by firing at a higher temperature of around 800C. Figures such as horses were formed by molding and adding white clay. Glazes on Sancai pieces often flowed downward during firing and colours commonly appear uneven.

Tang Three-colour Glaze Jar - History

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We had an absolutely perfect day with our tour guide - Rogin Luo - who took us for a hike along The Great Wall! Didn't know what to expect and were thrilled to have him as our guide. Very imformative, knowledgable and fun! We go to experience a part of The Great Wall that was unrestored and see all its natural beauty. Got a long history lesson along the way!

After the hike, we all went to lunch at a small place at the bottom of the hill. Located in a house, we ate lunch in the proprietors bedroom! What a hoot! Rogin is the Best of the Best! This tour company delivered for us and we are extremely grateful.

Westborough, Massachusetts

Tang Tricolor Pottery is general term for low-temperature and glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty. On the same utensils, yellow, green, white or yellow, green, blue, ocher, black and other basic glaze are staggered use, form a colorful artistic effect. "Three color" is means many different color but not specifically refers to three colors.

Tang tricolor pottery is a multi-colored glazed pottery, which is based on the delicate white clay material, use lead, aluminum oxide as a flux, use the copper, iron, cobalt and other minerals elements as a coloring agent. Its glaze is yellow, green, blue, white, purple, brown and other colors, but many more objects in yellow, green, white-based, and even some artifacts have only one or two of these colors. People collectively referred to them as "Tang Tricolor Pottery".

Tang tricolor glazed pottery began in the Southern and Northern Dynasties and flourished in the Tang Dynasty. It is famous for its vivid style, beautiful color and rich flavor of life, as well as the use of three basic colors and formed its characteristics in the Tang Dynasty, it was later known as &ldquoTang Tricolor Pottery&rdquo.

Tang tricolor pottery was burial objects for sacrificial victims in the ancient times. Since the founding of New China, increased attention to pottery and pottery recovery and development processes, people began to be interested in using it as room furnishings decoration and the gift to relatives and friends

Tang tricolor pottery was not only popular in ancient China, but also widely spread abroad. Tang tricolor pottery was found in more than ten countries, such as India, Japan, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Italy and other countries.

Tang tricolor pottery is a low-temperature lead-glazed pottery, adding different metal oxides in the glaze. After roasting, they form a light yellow, ocher yellow, light green, dark green, sky blue, brown red, eggplant purple and other colors, but yellow, ocher and green are basic colors. The glaze painted on billet pottery has chemical changes in the baking process. The glaze would have various density, different color invaded each other, mottled dripping, colors naturally coordinated with smooth pattern which is a unique kind of Chinese style. Tang tricolor pottery embraced in color which shows grand splendid artistic charm. Tang Tricolor Pottery is used for burial, as burial objects. Because its body is crisp which has poor water resistance, the practicality is far less than celadon and white porcelain which had already appeared.

Tang tricolor pottery mainly spread in Xi'an and Luoyang. Xi'an is known as West kiln and Luoyang is called East kiln. Burial was prevailed in Tang Dynasty, not only the nobles, but also the common people did.

Tang tricolor pottery has many different types of pottery figures, such as animals, dishes, water, wine, stationery, furniture, houses, and even loaded the ashes of the altar, and so on. More generally loved is horse figurines. Some of them was running while some was standing, some eagerly neighing, showed various lifelike postures. As for character modeling, there are women, civilian, military commanders, Hu figurines and king. According to the social status and hierarchy of the character, the portray shows different personalities and characteristics: lady&rsquos face is mellow and full, comb various kinds of hair, wearing colorful costumes civilian is polite staunch warrior is brave Hu figurines have high nose and deep eyes kings are angry and mighty, have magnificent spirit. Tang tricolor pottery is a model of Chinese ancient carving and it is a great treasure in Chinese culture.

The Tang Dynasty was the heyday of Chinese feudal society, economically thriving, beautiful and fragrant flowers blooming on culture and art. Pottery of this period is famous for its vivid posture, beautiful color and full of vitality.

Art Journey to the East

China and Japan have had a long relationship since the Han Dynasty. In the same manner that Monk Jianzhen’s east journey, brought to Japan Buddhism, traditional Chinese medical science, architecture, painting and calligraphy skills, implements and artworks were also shipped to the land of the rising sun in addition to ceramics.

The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, as its name suggests, is a museum dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and researching oriental ceramics. The strength of Chinese ceramics in the museum’s collection lies in the Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties, exactly the period during which ceramic art enjoyed its most brilliant successes as it grew to full maturity. Although it is not large in scope, the collection has important works representing each period and results in a collection of remarkably high concentration, one which indeed may be called a “Treasure house of Oriental ceramics?

JAR: Earthenware with Applied Medallions under Three-Color Glaze

Tang Dynasty 7th-8th Century h.30.9cm

The three baoxiang-hua medallions applied to the body of this jar stand out brilliantly under the fantastically mottled glaze, brown and green with white spots. The medallions were applied after press molding. The medallions on the “Bottle with Dragon Lugs, Three-Color Glaze,?an Important Cultural Property in the Yokogawa Collection of the Tokyo National Museum were made from a similar type of mold. This jar was covered with a white slip before glazing. The colorful glaze stops midway down the lower portion, achieving a delicate balance. The mouth and interior of the jar are glazed with a yellowish white glaze. A similar jar is in the Art Institute of Chicago, and a lidded jar which employs a slightly different glazing technique has been excavated at Jinjiagou, Luoyang, Henan Province.

BASIN: Porcelain with Carved Lotus Design

Ding Ware Northern Song Dynasty 11th Century d.24.5cm

This may appear to be a deep bowl, but the wide area of the base indicates that it is a basin. The lotus design is delicately carved, beveled and combed, to appear faintly against the ivory white surface which is unique to Ding ware. The pot is altered slightly with six vertical lines, making it melon-shaped. The clay is extremely fine, with almost no impurities, making it impossible for this pot to be thrown very thinly, and it is surprisingly light for its size. It did not warp in firing because it was fired upside down, and the glaze on the lip was later grimed. We can see the potter’s masterful touch in the beveled trimming around the base and the thin, low trimming work on the foot.

VASE: Stoneware with Sgraffito Decoration of Peony with Transparent Glaze under Green Glaz

Cizhou Ware Northern Song Dynasty 11th-12th Century h.35.0cm

This vase was first formed out of a greyish clay and coated with a white slip. A second coating of iron pigment was applied, then its background was carved away to create a raised pattern. Then the entire vase was coated with a transparent glaze and fired. Up to this point, the vessel was made in the manner typical of Cizhou ware. However, this case is rare in that another coat of green glaze was added and fired again at a low temperature. The particular severity of the peony design that best reflects Northern Song aesthetics, as well as the exceptional size, has made this piece a valuable example noted worldwide.

BOTTLE: Porcelain with Incised Peony Scrolls Design Cut through Underglaze Iron-Coating

Ding Ware Northern Song Dynasty 11th-12th Century h.17.3cm

This shape is known as taibozun or tuluping. The white porcelain body was covered with an iron slip and then the design was carved away. The center of the form has a peony scroll design, while the shoulder and base are decorated with a double flower petal pattern. This form and decorative method were both also employed at the Cizhou kilns during the same period, the early 12th century, although there were differences in the use of white slip. This pot provides a good example for considering the relationship between the two wares. Other similar wares produced include small dishes, jars, and pillows, although compared to classic Ding ware, the clay has a slight gray tint and seems to be coarser.

BOTTLE: Celadon with Carved Peony Scrolls Design

Yaozhou Ware Northern Song Dynasty 11th-12th Century h.16.7cm

Among the ceramic wares of the Northern Song Dynasty at its zenith, one finds Yaozhou ware. The kiln site for this ware has been discovered in Tongchuan, Shaanxi Province, north of Xi’an. The celadon glaze is often seen in an olive green color that is the result of oxidization during the firing process. It is also common to find a boldly-carved design covering most of the surface. The shape falls into the category of the tuluping, and at present it is the only one of its kind among Yaozhou celadon ware. The carving technique, called katakiribori in Japanese, leaves one side of the cut perpendicular to the surface and the other side with a slant. Here the celadon glaze fills the carved areas to create a beautiful feeling of depth befitting the worldwide fame of this piece.

TEA BOWL: Tenmoku Glaze with Leaf Design

Jizhou Ware Southern Song Dynasty 12th Century d.14.7cm

Unlike the tenmoku tea bowl of the Jian ware, the tenmoku tea bowls of Jizhou have thinner walls because of the dense white clay, and have straight sides. The smallness of the foot is also another characteristic of Jizhou ware. Some Jizhou wares are known for the tortoise shell glaze created by coats of yellowish brown and black glazes. This piece shows an application of this glazing technique. However, the technique of actually using a leaf to leave an intricate imprint that even retains the pattern of the veins still remains unexplained.

Vase with Phoenix Handles Celadon

Longquan Ware Southern Song Dynasty 12th Century h.28.8cm

Commonly called the “vase with phoenix handles? this vessel is characterized by the mallet-shaped body and the attached phoenix-shaped handles. Many Chinese ceramic wares have survived since the Yuan Dynasty and the early Ming Dynasty, during and after which they were shipped in quantity to Japan. This particular vase, too, was handed down through an un-known number of generations of the Aoyama family of Tanba Province. Of the many extant phoenix-handled vases, one titled “ten thousand voices?and another called “one thousand voices?are especially famous for their beauty this vase, however, surpasses even them with the unrivaled beauty of its glaze. It is believed to demonstrate the zenith of celadon ware production in the Longquan kilns of Zhejiang Province.

TEA BOWL: Tenmoku Glaze with Silvery Spots

Jian Ware Southern Song Dynasty 12th-13th Century d.12.2cm

The Chinese describe this vessel type as dizhu, meaning beautiful drops, for the exquisite beauty created by myriads of iridescent “oil spots.?Jian tenmoku tea bowls were shipped in quantity to Japan during the Yuan Dynasty and the early Ming Dynasty. Among these wares, Tenmoku Glaze with Silvery Spots was prized the most. This tea bowl has long been considered an unrivaled piece of “oil spot?tenmoku.

BOTTLE: Celadon with Iron Brown Spots

Longquan Ware Yuan Dynasty 13th-14th Century h.27.4cm

This bottle was decorated with iron spots and covered with a celadon glaze, a decorative method which was employed widely at the Longquan kilns in the Yuan Dynasty. This vase is particularly outstanding, both for the color of the glaze and the appearance of the iron spots. This type of form is popularly known as yuhuchun, pear-shaped bottle. The slender neck and full belly present a pleasing contrast, achieving a beautiful balance. The glaze has been scraped away from about five millimeters of the foot rim, revealing the clay body which has turned red in the fire.

DISH: Blue-and-White with Bird and Branch Design

Jingdezhen Ware Ming Dynasty Yongle Period, 1403-1424 d.50.5cm

This large dish, with a diameter exceeding 50 centimeters, was made using a mold and then fired skillfully to obtain a non- warped form. A delicate floral scroll graces the foliated rim. The sides of the dish are divided into 16 sections containing pomegranate, peach and other auspicious fruits. In the center, a magpie eats berries on a branch. The composition is spacious, and the brush work is both decorous and elegant, making this a typical example of early Ming Dynasty pictorial design. Several other similar pieces are known to exist.

DISH: Porcelain with Reversed Peony Decoration against Cobalt-Blue Glaze

Jingdezhen Ware Ming Dynasty Xuande Mark and Period, 1426-1435 d.38.7cm

There is a large design of a peony branch in the center of this dish, and pomegranates, peaches, and litchi in six places around the rim. On the exterior there is a peony scroll pattern. The details of each pattern have been incised. This dish was probably decorated by applying a white slip to the decorated area, then glazing the rest with a blue glaze. The technique of decorating pots with a reverse white pattern against a blue background was already used in the Yuan Dynasty.

Porcellaneous Stoneware in Cloissone Style (Fuhua Ware) with Bird and Blossom Design

Ming Dynasty 15th Century h.44.5cm

According to records from the Qing Dynasty, the fahua technique was invented in the Yuan Dynasty in Shanxi Province, after which it spread to other areas. One theory traces the origin of this ware to three-color tiles which were made in Shanxi, while others point out the similarities to enameled bronze ware techniques which were perfected in the early Ming Dynasty however, many points remain unclear. Extant fahua ware can be divided into porcellaneous ware and stoneware. Among the porcellaneous works, there are many large pieces, and it has been noted that there are similarities in form and decorative patterns between these and the blue-and-white ware and overglaze enameled ware of the Jingdezhen kilns. This jar is a rarely seen example of a large fahua porcellaneous jar. The design is applied in relief over a dark blue base, and the white areas strike a particularly beautiful contrast. Green glaze has been coarsely applied to the inside and the bottom of the jar.

COVERED JAR: Porcelain with Overglaze Yellow and Red Enamels Dragon Design

Jingdezhen Ware Ming Dynasty Jiajing Mark and Period, 1522-1566 h.27.0cm

Among zacai wares, this jar uses a particularly complex decorative technique. After first firing as porcelain, the entire surface was covered with yellow enamel and the jar was fired again. Then the design was applied and the piece fired a third time. In this case, the outline and details of the dragon design were painted in brown pigment, and the background filled in with red enamel. Due to the yellow base, the red color is even more vivid than usual. The design covering the jar’s surface combines with this vivid color for a rich effect. This jar is a good example of the mood of the Jiajing period, when colorful wares were popular.

Further information on Tang

Many of these stunning Tang dynasty antiques were used as pieces that were buried with the dead for use in the afterlife, known as mingqui. They mainly took the form of horses, camels, servants and soldiers and even camel drivers from Africa and central Asia depicted by their thick beards and facial features with realistic detail unprecedented in the history of not only Tang dynasty ceramics but in all of Chinese art.

It has been suggested that no other potters of any other dynasty have been as skilful in their stunning representations of horses and consequently Tang dynasty antiques and sancai are collected and admired by collectors from around the world.

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The condition of lots can vary widely and the nature of the lots sold means that they are unlikely to be in a perfect condition. Lots are sold in the condition they are in at the time of sale.

We have sought to record changes in the condition of this piece acquired after its initial manufacture.
- The jar has been broken into several pieces and restuck with associated overpainting.
- There are some minor chips around the exterior of the foot and rim.
- There are some scratches and glaze flakes to the surface and minor chips to the extremities, as can be expected.

Watch the video: Chinese Arts and Crafts: Tang Tri-colored Pottery (July 2022).


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