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Celadon Washer Applied with Four Molded Fish, Longquan Ware

By Ceramic Design Ideas

Celadon Washer Applied


Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368)

Longquan kiln is located in Longquan, Zhejiang province When the washer is filled with water, the four fish seem swimming freely in a pond. Located in Longquan county of Zhejiang province, the Longquan kiln was the largest non-official kiln complex in south China during the Song (960-1279) and Yuan dynasties. Longquan wares were exported to many countries including Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Pakistan, India, and Egypt. Here is a case in point: Among some 17,000 porcelain wares datable to the Yuan dynasty recovered from a sunken vessel under the sea of South Korean in 1976, more than 9,000 were Longquan wares.



Gift Mugs

By Ceramic Design

Custom mugs are a great gift to give for any occasion. Paint is an inexpensive way to personalize a plain, ceramic coffee mug that can be picked up at any discount store. Instead of going to an expensive paint-a-pot store, follow these instructions to make a great mug at home. Mugs also make an excellent rainy day project for kids.

  • 1

    Select your paints. Make sure the product is nontoxic and microwave/dishwasher safe. Enamel paint and ceramic paints are generally your best bet. Porcelain paint pens are water-based and allow you to draw right on the mug with little mess and cleanup.

  • 2

    Clean the outside of your mug with a cotton ball saturated in rubbing alcohol and allow to dry.

  • 3

    Sketch out your desired design on paper before you start painting.

  • 4

    Hold your stencil on the mug and gently dab paint inside lines. Allow to dry and apply a second coat. Continue this process until desired look is achieved. Sponges, rubber or foam stamps can also be used to create patterns on your mug. A coat of nontoxic, clear sealer will make your design shine.

  • 5

    Allow paint to dry overnight. Place the mug in a room temperature oven and turn it on to the degree indicated on the paint package, as many ceramic materials cannot withstand sudden changes in temperature, according to

  • 6

    Fill the mug with candy or individual cocoa or coffee packets. Cut a 10-inch circle out of wrapping paper, tulle or fabric. Place the mug in the center and tie up with a ribbon to give as a gift.



Korean pottery and porcelain

By Ceramic Design

The Three Kingdoms of Korea (57 BC-668 AD), namely Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje, provided the beginning of Korean ceramic history. Rough domestic wares for the people were produced from numerous kilns. Likewise a number of very sophisticated statues of royal figures, guardians, and horses, equivalent to Chinese Han Dynasty figures, used for domestic and imperial votive shrines, as well as for escorts of the dead in tombs of the nobles and kings, were turned on potter’s wheels, while others were formed using the traditional hammered clay and coil method.

During the Unified Silla period (668–935) pottery was simple in colour, shape, and design. Celadon was subsequently the main production, with baekja porcelain wares developing slowly in the 14th century, when the pace accelerated with new glazes, better clays, and surprising variations of the white of different clays.

The kilns at the time had to compete with Chinese wares on a variety of social levels. The Korean ceramic masters decided to distinguish Korean baekja or white porcelain from Chinese imports by maintaining simplicity in design when the practical problems of finding pure white glazes were solved. Dating of glazes from this era has revealed a celadon or jade patina beneath white glazes.

Baekja wares came from highly refined white clay, glazed with feldspar, and fired in large carefully regulated and very clean kilns. Despite the refining process, glazes in white colours always vary as a result of the properties of the clay itself; firing methods were not uniform, temperatures varied and glazes on pieces vary from pure white, in an almost snowy thickness, through milky white that shows the clay beneath deliberately in washed glaze, to light blue and light yellow patinas.

The baekja wares reached their zenith immediately before the Joseon Dynasty came to power. Fine pieces have recently been found in the area about Wolchil Peak in the Diamond Mountains. The transitional wares of white became expressions of the Joseon Dynasty celebrations of victory in many pieces decorated with Korean calligraphy. Traditionally white wares were used by both the scholarly Confucian class, the nobility, and royalty on more formal occasions.

Simultaneously, the Buddhist traditions demanded celadon-glazed wares, and cheongja pieces of celadon porcelain with more organic shapes drawing on gourds, with animal and bird motifs that evolved very quickly. In some ways these were over-decorated wares, using exaggerated forms, stylized repeating designs, and a wide variety of organic patterns.

Cheongja wares used refined earth clays with a bit of iron powder added, then a glaze with a bit of added iron powder added once again, then fired. The glaze dried to a hard finish and was durable with a slightly shinier and glossier finish, in an oily way, than whitewares.



Ru ware

By Ceramic Design

Like Ding ware, Ru (Wade-Giles: ju) was produced in North China for imperial use. The Ru kilns were near the Northern Song capital at Kaifeng. In similar fashion to Longquan celadons, Ru pieces have small amounts of iron 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 ). 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). 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 Jin invaded, and settled at Lin’an in Hangzhou, towards 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. However, posterity has remembered Ru ware as something unmatched by later attempts; Master Gao says, “Compared with Guan yao, the above were of finer substance and more brilliant luster.”



Ding ware

By Ceramic Design

White Glazed Ding Ware Bowl with Incised Design Northern Song Dynasty (11th-12th Century); Porcelain, Musée Guimet 2418

Ding (Wade-Giles: Ting) ware was produced in Ding Xian (modern Chu-yang), Hebei Province, slightly south-west of Beijing. Already in production when the Song emperors came to power in 940, 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 era writer commented that it was this defect that led to its demise as favoured imperial ware. Since the Song court lost access to these northern kilns when they fled south, it has been argued that Qingbai ware (see below) was viewed as a replacement for Ding.

Although not as highly ranked as Ru ware, the late Ming 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:
“The best sort has marks on it like tear-stains… Great skill and ingenuity is displayed in selecting the forms of the vessels…”



Jian tea wares

By Ceramic Design

Jian blackwares, mainly comprising tea wares, were made at kilns located in Jianyang of Fujian province. They reached the peak of their popularity during the Song dynasty. The wares were made using locally-won, iron-rich clays and fired in an oxidising atmosphere at temperatures in the region of 1300 °C. 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.

Jian tea bowlSong Dynasty, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The hare’s fur Jian tea bowl illustrated in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York was made during the Song dynasty (960 to 1279 AD) and exhibits the typical pooling, or thickening, of the glaze near the bottom. The hare’s fur patterning in the glaze of this bowl resulted from the random effect of phase separation during early cooling in the kiln and is unique to this bowl. This phase separation in the iron-rich glazes of Chinese blackwares was also used to produce the well-known oil-spot, teadust and partridge-feather glaze effects. No two bowls have identical patterning. The bowl also has a dark brown iron-foot which is typical of this style. It would have been fired, probably with several thousand other pieces, each in its own stackable saggar, in a single-firing in a large dragon kiln. One such kiln, built on the side of a steep hill, was almost 150 metres in length, though most Jian dragon kilns were fewer than 100 metres in length.

An 11th century resident of Fujian wrote:

Tea is of light colour and looks best in black cups. The cups made at Jianyang are bluish-black in colour, marked like the fur of a hare. Being of rather thick fabric they retain the heat, so that when once warmed through they cool very slowly, and they are additionally valued on this account. None of the cups produced at other places can rival these. Blue and white cups are not used by those who give tea-tasting parties.

At the time, tea was prepared by whisking powdered leaves that had been pressed into dried cakes together with hot water, (somewhat akin to matcha in Japanese Tea Ceremony). The water added to this powder produced a white froth that would stand out better against a dark bowl. Tastes in preparation changed during the Ming dynasty; the Hongwu Emperor himself preferred leaves to powdered cakes, and would accept only leaf tea as tribute from tea-producing regions. Leaf tea, in contrast to powdered tea, was prepared by steeping whole leaves in boiling water – a process that led to the invention of the teapot and subsequent popularity of Yixing wares over the dark tea bowls.

Jian tea wares of the Song dynasty were also greatly appreciated and copied in Japan, where they were known as tenmoku wares.



Tang Sancai burial wares

By Ceramic Design

Sancai means three-colours. However, the colours of the glazes used to decorate the wares of the Tang dynasty were not limited to three in number. In the West, Tang sancai wares were sometimes referred to as egg-and-spinach by dealers for the use of green, yellow and white. Though the latter of the two colours might be more properly described as amber and off-white / cream.

Sancai wares were northern wares made using white and buff-firing secondary kaolins and fire clays. At kiln sites located at Tongchuan, Neiqui county in Hebei and Gongxian in Henan, the clays used for burial wares were similar to those used by Tang potters. The burial wares were fired at a lower temperature than contemporaneous whitewares. Burial wares, such as the well-known representations of camels and horses, were cast in sections, in moulds with the parts luted together using clay slip. In some cases, a degree of individuality was imparted to the assembled figurines by hand-carving.



Stafford Rick Ceramic Design

By Ceramic Design

Stafford Rick Ceramic Design in Bainbridge Island, WA is a private company categorized under Vitreous China Table and Kitchenware. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of 20,000 and employs a staff of approximately 1. Companies like Stafford Rick Ceramic Design usually offer: Porcelain Tableware, Discount Tableware, World Tableware, Cheap Tableware and Square Dishes.

Stafford Rick Ceramic Design also does business as Eagle Harbor Stoneware .


 Location Type


 Single Location


 Annual Sales (Estimated)




 Employees (Estimated)




 SIC Code


 3262, Vitreous China Table and Kitchen Articles




 327112, Vitreous China, Fine Earthenware, and Other Pottery Product Manufacturing


 Products, Services and Brands


 Information not found


 State of Incorporation


 Information not found


 Years in Business



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Ceramic crisis countries in the world’s a mixed reaction to

By Ceramic Design

The 16th World Ceramic Forum held recently in China Taiwan to participate in the forum are China (including Taiwan), Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Japan, the United States and other ceramic tile producers, representatives of almost occupied Ceramic production in the world as a whole 80% of the share. Delegates to explore the theme of the Forum include the world’s consumption and production and consumption trends, the impact of financial crisis for the ceramics industry.
In 2008, the world’s ceramic tile production rose to 8.5 billion square meters, annual production is expected to 2009, and 2008 unchanged. Ceramic tile consumption in the Asian region to maintain a good upward trend, while Europe, Japan and the United States of these the world’s top 10 economies from 2008 began a gradual downward trend in consumption of ceramic tiles. As the impact of financial crisis, this year declines in sales of ceramic tile in some countries as much as 20% ~ 50%. So far, China, Brazil, Italy and Spain have always dominated the world’s ceramic tile production in the first few big countries. Representatives of other countries and regions as well as data reporting point of view, the situation in China a single good, Italy, Spain, more powerful industry hit the United States is full of future market expectations.


China is entering the recovery status of the whole industry
Forum Chinese government increased domestic demand and China’s vast rural market pull, the Chinese construction industry in a crisis for the nation’s adjustment and upgrading, the annual output of more than 6 billion square meters, exports only 670 million square meters, 88% of the domestic market, imports market share of 0.06%, the product price has risen too.
Product structure, the ceramic tile 64%, interior glazed tiles 25, 7% of stoneware tiles, stoneware and fine stoneware tiles 4%, the low-end products accounted for more than 80%; first half of 2009, the whole industry into the “revival” state, national industrial transfer and distribution once again started; decline in exports and domestic sales increase; production costs decreased, corporate profits fell in the morning and synchronization; the whole industry, basically through the most difficult times in March and gradually into the recovery phase began.
Of energy, industry, annual consumption of about 150 million tons of mineral raw materials, basic local materials, the Chinese government energy-saving emission reduction policies and export taxes reduced to 8% of the policies to help Chinese enterprises to ride out the storm played a role, the Chinese government promulgated a series of environmental policy, so that China Building Ceramic Industry more concerned about environmental and social responsibility.

India is projected 7% growth in the
While India affected by economic crisis, 24% of the factories to stop the kiln, the number of unemployed reached 40000, but has maintained GDP growth of India, India housing industries and pillar industries, IT has continued to maintain growth, future The Government plans to increase by about 2,000 million units of housing construction. Ceramic tile production increased by 20% last year to reach 390 million square meters. At present, India’s per capita consumption of ceramic tiles from 0.36 square meters, there is still much room for development. Marketing point of view, yield 70% reliance on the domestic market. In the output of which accounted for 43% of tiles and other floor tiles accounted for 40 percent and imports 2,450 million square meters, export 1,400 million square meters. 2008 sales of view, the international market increased by 11%, imports increased 24%. This year, the domestic market is estimated that 7% growth.

German sales profits encountered unprecedented difficulties
On the whole German tile production is shrinking year by year, last year remained at 6,500 million square meters. In 2009 has dropped by 17 ~ 20%, sales profits were encountered unprecedented difficulties.

Italy is expected to reach 22 percent decline in output this year
Over the past two years by the Italian Federation of the continuous integration into the ceramics related to many of the chapters have joined together to form a more powerful system for face-degree ceramic industry economic crisis. In respect of the current domestic form, is expected to Italy this year, production decreased by about 22% to reduce the roughly 4,000 million square meters, sales are expected to decline to about 18% of approximately equivalent to 4 billion euros. In terms of investment decreased 8% to about 7,500 million euros, but the contrast from the turnover and sales terms, the investment rate was maintained at a proportion of the past. Probably accounted for about 15% of sales. From overseas exports, the Italian or to maintain the highest average price, with an average of 10 euros per square meter of ceramic tiles, while ranking second in Spain is 8 euros, while the output of superpower China 4 euros. From the demand perspective, the Italian market fundamentals remain unchanged, because the Italian people would prefer to use ceramic products.

Spanish ceramic tile industry output will decline every year 2009 is expected to be even more severe situation, the situation is even worse than in 2008. Spanish industry is now facing a double crisis: the financial crisis and the Spanish real estate market surplus. At present, the ceramic tile industry, the number of unemployed persons is probably around 8,000, the output will decrease under the 2009 and 2007 to do more, the output decreased by 55%, sales decreased by 37%. Apparent decline in domestic demand due to the market, imports also declined. As the impact of financial crisis, exports were restricted, while the exchange rate issue also affected the export sector.

Indonesia’s exports in recent years, the domestic political situation in Indonesia is very
economy has stabilized, the cabinet selection completed this year. Brick’s production of 3.5 million square meters, there are 250 million daily-use porcelain, sanitary ware 4.5 million, the entire output value 800 million U.S. dollars. Main export countries are the United States, Australia and Europe, these three countries. However, due to the economic crisis, which three countries are both affected by more serious, neighboring countries, an annual output of 1,900 million square meters, Malaysia, Thailand, 6,300 million square meters, Vietnam and Indonesia, has remained flat, so not very recent years, the export boom.

Brazil had to rely on the domestic market
from the Brazilian point of view, a decrease of 8 percent of employees, production, a decrease of 11%. Brazil’s domestic market demand increased by 7%, 13% reduction in overseas markets. Brazil’s main export countries are the United States ceramic tile, but sales fell 63% last year, while exports to Latin American countries such as the products also reduced a lot. Imports increased by 23%, and in this 23%, almost all imports come from Chinese products. 3.9 square meters per capita consumption of ceramic tiles, the ceramic industry from the Brazilian point of view, or to rely on the domestic market.

The United States has gone through the most difficult times
The U.S. market has been the most difficult times, from the first half of 2009 data, the tile consumption of 650 million square feet, and only half of the same period in 2008, and now is picking up. Now the housing market began to rebound in October compared with second-hand housing ring up 10.1%, sales of 6.1 million units, real estate, generally as a leading indicator of building materials, from this point of view, is more optimistic about the future market. The U.S. market mainly depend on imports. From the global production trends, to 07-08 from all major producing countries, the changes in ceramic tile or less is expected in 2009 will continue in 2008 the situation will not have too many changes. Over the past year, in terms of the global ceramic tile industry is the most difficult one, even though production on the rise, but the profits of an enterprise is on the decline, in addition to China, Brazil, Vietnam and a few other domestic sales growth, Italy, Spain, India, Japan, the United States, tile sharp decline in consumption, and will have an impact on the future.



Chinese Arts Handicrafts – Porcelain, Chinaware

By Ceramic Design

Unlike the course and porous earthenware, porcelain vessels are in the wholly vitrified, have a white color, sometimes translucent, and they have a fine-grained liquid-proof body. Chinese porcelain is worldwide known for its beautiful white color, its thin walls (a Chinese proverb says, “whiter than jade and thinner than paper” 比玉白,比紙薄) and its clear bell-like sound. The first real porcelain in China was made during the Tang Dynasty 唐, but industrial manufacturing was only exerted during the Yuan period 元, when Marco Polo wrote his reports about China. The word “porcelain” originally meant a kind of sea snail similar to the cowry snail. One of the first production places for porcelain ware was Gaoling 高陵/Shaanxi , a town that gave its name to one raw material for chinaware, kaolinite. To produce chinaware, feldspar is grounded and mixed with kaolinite, shaped to an object that is fired at around 1,400°C (2,600°F). The spar vitrifies, while the kaolinite ensures that the vessel keeps its shape in the kiln. In Europe, soft-paste porcelain was produced form the 16th century on, but the secret of true china hard porcelain was only discovered in 1707 in Meissen/Germany. Porcelain without glaze is called biscuit porcelain, invented in France during 18th century, and is mainly used for figurines. When the feldspathic glaze and the body of the vessel are fired together in a second firing process, glaze and body fuse intimately with each other. Painted decoration of porcelain is usually executed over the fired glaze. The Chinese do not distinguish between porcelain and stoneware, both is called ci 瓷 “Porcellain” is further defined as pottery that is resonant when struck.
Historical periods: [Song chinaware][Yuan chinaware][Ming chinaware][Qing chinaware]

One beautiful example of early Chinese porcelain is this small pot of a type called yu盂. Many of the Jin Dynasty 晉 pots have four eyes to be hung up. The cover of this brown glazed pot is decorated with two turtle-doves.
New shapes and decoration patterns shows this pot (type bo 缽; by the way, modern Korean ricebowls with the same shape are made from metal and are called jubal 周缽 “round bowls”) from the Eastern Jin Dynasty. Its yellow glazed surface is dotted with brown points, that are added in a regular pattern on belly and cover. The seize of the dots nonetheless is very unregular and points out a begin of the intuitive splotch decoration that is prevalent until the Tang Dynasty.
Flower patterns like on this bowl from the Southern Dynasties 南朝 were still very rare during Han time 漢. The influence of lotus flowers in Buddhist art could have contributed to this new decoration pattern. A bowl sitting on a dish is also a new type.
Clear influence of Indian and Central Asian art shows this pot from the Southern Dynasties period. Lotus flowers and honeysuckle are composed in different layers, one layer going up, the other showing to the bottom.
Glazed with brown color, this flat Northern Dynasties 北朝 bottle is decorated with musicians. Pictures of people are very important to reconstruct clothing, instruments, festivities, architecture and so on.
This 24 cm tall jar from the Northern Dynasties already shows the three color glazing (sancai 三彩) that became very popular under Tang Dynasty. The glazing is actually only made of two colors: green and brown, the third color white being the ground material. Typical for the period of division are the four eyes on the upper part and the round shape of the vessel.
Another Northern Dynasties vessel is a prototype of the worldwide known typical Chinese vase with the wide belly and the long, straight neck. Unlike the overloaded Ming 明 and Qing 清 vases, this piece is decorated with a simple green splotch.
The Song Dynasty 宋 porcelain is characterized by a very simple coloring and almost no decoration, like this 20 cm tall pure white covered bowl from the Five Dynasties period 五代.
But Song chinaware did not only use more simple colors than the elder porcelain. New shapes and patters arose. The left vase in a green coloring looks very modern in its appering with the round body and the slim neck.
A new technique of Song porcelain is the craquelée (kaipian 開片 or wenpian 紋片), making the glazing cracked all over as if it had been destroyed by temperature or water. The specimen on the right has a shape that reminds old bronze vessel types, but the two hallow tube-like handles on the side are a very new feature. Tallness about 20 cm.
A Song chinaware cup that shows the change of colors from the olive green-yellow-brown types of the Tang Dynasty (that were still en mode) to a color range of green-blue-violet. During the reign era Jingde 景德 (1004-1007), the Song emperor Zhenzong 宋真宗 (r. 998-1022) had established imperial manufacturies at a small town called Jingdezhen 景德鎮/modern Jiangxi.
Very typical for Chinese art are boxes that contain filial boxes or bowls. Most of these “box in the box” type contained cosmetics or medicine, and at the same time were a symbol of a lucky large number of children.
From the late Tang Dynasty on, when Buddhism declined, the object of Buddhist veneration shifted from the huge state protected Avalokiteshvara to the Bodhisattva Maitreya (chin. Milefo 彌勒佛), also called Buddha of the Future. The venerated Avalokiteshvara was usually depicted with feminine characters and is called Guanyin 觀音. The Guanyin was no object of state veneration but found his/her place in private household or small temples. The specimen of the left is a porcelain Guanyin from the Southern Song period.
The Yuan Dynasty brought new types of vessels. The type of cup to the left called “feeted cup” (zubei 足杯) was very popular from Yuan to the end of Qing Dynasty. It is 10 to 14 cm high and in most cases decorated in a very reserved manner.
If we think of chinaware or Chinese porcelain, we first talk of the blue-white patterned porcelain that is typical for the last 700 years of Chinese art history. It first came up during the Yuan Dynasty and often showed motifs like shown on the left, a white plate decorated with a blue dragon, clouds and flowers.
But also other types of vessels were decorated in blue-white. The slim vase with the broad shoulders on the left is a vessel type whose oldest specimen originate from the Song Dynasty. The progress in industrial manufacturing of porcelain allowed a refined style of these vases that often were covered by a small cup. 50 cm tall.
Typical for Yuan Dynasty vases is the low and thick bowl-like vase shown on the right side. The cover is shaped like the hat of a flower bud or a fruits when it starts to grow after the blossom-time is over. 30 cm tall.
Another example of feeted cups, zubei, from the Ming Dynasty, made of porcelain and different stones.
During Ming Dynasty, this town developed to an industrial town manufacturing porcelain. Ming artisans introduced red and yellow colors to the typical blue-white porcelain that is typical for chinaware. The box on the left is used to contain painting brushes, and it is decorates with dragons playing inmidst clouds and waves.
But the blue-white porcalain was very prevalent because it is cheaper to produce than mulit-colored vessels or objects. The plate to the left is only one example of the huge treasury of boxes, bowls and vases produced during the Ming and Qing Dynasty. Industrially manufactures porcelain was so cheap that it replaced metal and stone objects in a wide range, and the manufacturies produced such an amount of material that it could even be exported to Southeast Asia and Europe.
The vase on the left is a good example for the overloaded, some would say “kitschy” style of multi-colored chinaware that came up during late Ming Dynasty, ornated with red, orange, green, blue, and gold colors. On the contrary, there existed also very simple and barely decorated objects like the pair of vases on the right, used to flank an altar. They are only adorned with a dragon twirling around the slim neck.
The pot-bellied vase from the Yuan Dynasty were still seen during later centuries, but quite rare. The example to the left is 40 cm tall and is – surprisingly – not purely exerted with the typical blue colors, but the gold fish are painted in a realistic red-gold color. Fish are a symbol for fertility in Chinese thought.
Very famous among the tourists visiting China is the nine dragon wall in Beijing’s Forbidden City (see Imperial Palace). These walls were erected just behind the entrance gate of a court to prevent bad ghost entering the house (ghosts were believed to be able to walk around corners, they can only walk straight ahead). The Ming Dynasty emperors who erected the “modern” Forbidden City in Beijing had this wall adorned with ceramic tiles showing nine dragons playing amidst the waves of a river.
These four vessels from the Qing Dynasty were used during the imperial offerings to the natural spirits. The right, red vase with a wide opening was used for the sun altar, the pale blue vase on the left for the moon altar. The dark blue vessel in the front, shaped like an old fu 簠 type bronze vessel from the Zhou Dynasty 周, was used for offering to Heaven, and the yellow vessel in the background, shaped like an old dou 豆 type bronze vessel, was used for the offering to the Earth.
Lanterns in China are often red colored and made of paper – we can see them in every China restaurant around the corner. The most expensive lanterns were made of paper-thin porcelain, like the example on the left. On each side of this octogonal lantern, we see a small painting, centered in a field of a grid-patterned light zone. The structural parts of the relief are thicker than the “hallow parts” and thereby give the impression of a grid. Similar effects are employed on the bottoms of cups and bowls. Holding the cup against direct light, a painting of a bird, a girl or anything else can be seen.
Two examples shall show that Qing Dynasty bowls were not purely an industrial mass product of mean quality like we know them from the China food shop from the corner. While the bowl to the left shows us five different kinds of flowers on a coral red ground, the bowl to the right is partially covered with an enamel drawing of a pheasant among peony flowers.
The advanced industrial technique allowed the creation of difficile shapes, decorations and styles. Typical for the Qing Dynasty chinaware is the gourd-shaped vase, made of porcelain “thinner than paper, whiter than jade”, like the Chinese say. The right example is decorated with lefs, the vase on the left, only thickened on the top of the neck, is painted with a bird scene on an orange background.
A Song Dynasty vessel shape with broad shoulders still employed, Qing Dynasty artisans proved their skills for the example on the left to cover the body of the vase with a raised relief of leaves. The right vase, shaped like a gourd, divided its neck into three tubes, coming out of one single and unified body.
Glazed tiles are not only found in China but also on the roofs of European Middle Age buildings. But typical for Chinese tiles are the shapes of demons, dragons and monsters numbering five to seven that protect the buildings agains the devastating stroke of lightnings. The example to the left are two roof of the Qing summer palace in Shenyang 瀋陽/Liaoning (Mukden).
As Chinese thinking uses to pose two powers or elements into opposition (sun – moon, Heaven – Earth, male – female, dark – light), sets of pairs are also seen in Chinese art. The pair of vases on the left is a good example of industrial mass products to meet the needs of the common people, and at the same time, it is an example that not all vases or art objects are round, but that there are also quadrangular objects, symbolizing the earth.
The consume of cigars or cigarets has never been widespread in China until the 20th century. Instead, Chinese used to enjoy tobacco in the form of snuff. Accordingly, snuff-boxes were a very common item for daily use. The left and middle snuff-boxes are made from porcelain and are painted with a landscape, the right blue box is made from glass and shows a crane flying over a river and a temple.