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Jun

1

White Pottery Gui Pitcher

By Ceramic Design



White Pottery Gui Pitcher – Late Ta-wen-k’ou Culture (ca. 4200-2600 BC), Neolithic period, Height: 29.5 cm, body height: 21.6 cm, width at widest: 16.9 cm

White Pottery Gui Pitcher

White pottery was made using clay with a higher concentration of aluminum oxide that is then fired. The potters in the Ta-wen-k’ou Culture used clay to fashion vessels like this one for alcoholic beverages that suggest an abstract bird craning its neck as it cries out.

Mar

12

White-glazed Bowl, Ding Ware

By Ceramic Design



White-glazed-Bowl-Ding-Ware

With a copper-rimmed wide mouth, deep, bow-shaped belly and a ring foot, the bowl has an offwhite glaze. It has several glaze drips that look like tear stains.

Cao Zhao, a connoisseur of the Ming dynasty, remarked in his book on connoisseurship, Discussing Antiquities Case by Case (Ko Ku Yao Lun) “old Ding ware always has tear stains on the exterior, otherwise they are fake”. The tear stain is a natural phenomenon during firing of the porcelain. Transparent glazes melt at a high temperature and flow vertically because of gravity. They become a wax-tear or glass-bead bulge where the glaze mass, which makes them look like tear stains. These marks are one of the most typical characteristics of white-glazed Ding ware. Read more »

Feb

26

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.

Feb

21

Evolution of blue and white ware

By Ceramic Design



14th century

Further information: Jingdezhen ware

The true development of blue and white ware in China started with the first half of the 14th century, when it progressively replaced the century-long tradition of bluish-white ware, or Qingbai. The main production center was in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province.

15th century

With the advent of the Ming Dynasty in 1368, blue and white ware was shunned for a time by the Court, especially under the Hongwu and Yongle Emperors, as being too foreign in inspiration.Blue and white porcelain however came back to prominence with the Xuande Emperor, and again developed from that time on.

16th century

Some blue and white wares of the 16th century were characterized by Islamic influences, such as the ware under the Zhengde Emperor (1506–1521), which sometimes bore Persian and Arabic script.

17th century

During the 17th century, numerous blue and white pieces were made as export porcelain for the European markets. European symbols and scenes coexisted with Chinese scenes for these objects.

18th century

In the 18th century export porcelain continued to be produced for the European markets. As a result of the work of Francois Xavier d’Entrecolles however, an early example of “industrial spying” in which the details of Chinese porcelain manufacture were transmitted to Europe, Chinese exports of porcelain soon shrank considerably, especially by the end of the reign of the Qianlong Emperor.

Feb

18

Tang and Song blue-and-white

By Ceramic Design



The first Chinese blue and white wares were as early as the ninth century in Henan province, China; although only shards have been discovered. Tang period blue-and-white is even rarer than Song blue-and-white and was unknown before 1985. The Tang pieces are not porcelain however, but rather earthenwares with greenish white slip, using cobalt blue pigments which probably originated in the Middle-East.The only three pieces of complete “Tang blue and white” in the world were recovered from Indonesian Belitung shipwreck in 1998 and later sold to Singapore.

Feb

13

Blanc de Chine

By Ceramic Design



Blanc de Chine is a type of white porcelain made at Dehua in the Fujian province. It has been produced from the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) to the present day. Large quantities arrived in Europe as Chinese Export Porcelain in the early 18th century and it was copied at Meissen and elsewhere.

The area along the Fujian coast was traditionally one of the main ceramic exporting centers. Over one-hundred and eighty kiln sites have been identified extending in historical range from the Song period to present.


From the Ming period porcelain objects were manufactured that achieved a fusion of glaze and body traditionally referred to as “ivory white” and “milk white.” The special characteristic of Dehua porcelain is the very small amount of iron oxide in it, allowing it to be fired in an oxidising atmosphere to a warm white or pale ivory colour. (Wood, 2007)

The porcelain body is not very plastic but vessel forms have been made from it. Donnelly, (1969, pp.xi-xii) lists the following types of product: figures, boxes, vases and jars, cups and bowls, fishes, lamps, cup-stands, censers and flowerpots, animals, brush holders, wine and teapots, Buddhist and Taoist figures, secular figures and puppets. There was a large output of figures, especially religious figures, e.g. Guanyin, Maitreya, Lohan and Ta-mo figures.

The numerous Dehua porcelain factories today make figures and tableware in modern styles. During the Cultural Revolution “Dehua artisans applied their very best skills to produce immaculate statuettes of the Great Leader and the heroes of the revolution. Portraits of the stars of the new proletarian opera in their most famous roles were produced on a truly massive scale.” Mao Zedong figures later fell out of favour but have been revived for foreign collectors.

Notable artists in blanc de Chine, such as the late Ming period He Chaozong, signed their creations with their seals. Wares include crisply modeled figures, cups, bowls and joss stick-holders.

Many of the best examples of blanc de Chine are found in Japan where the white variety was termed hakugorai or “Korean white”, a term often found in tea ceremony circles. The British Museum in London has a large number of blanc de Chine pieces, having received as a gift in 1980 the entire collection of P.J.Donnelly.

Feb

13

Qingbai wares

By Ceramic Design



Qingbai wares (also called ‘yingqing’) were made at Jingdezhen and at many other southern kilns from the time of the Northern Song Dynasty until they were eclipsed in the 14th century by underglaze-decorated blue and white wares. Qingbai in Chinese literally means “clear blue-white“. The qingbai glaze is a porcelain glaze, so-called because it was made using pottery stone. The qingbai glaze is clear, but contains iron in small amounts. When applied over a white porcelain body the glaze produces a greenish-blue colour that gives the glaze its name. Some have incised or moulded decorations.

The Song dynasty qingbai bowl illustrated was likely made at the Jingdezhen village of Hutian, which was also the site of the Imperial kilns established in 1004. The bowl has incised decoration, possibly representing clouds or the reflection of clouds in the water. The body is white, translucent and has the texture of very-fine sugar, indicating that it was made using crushed and refined pottery stone instead of pottery stone and kaolin. The glaze and the body of the bowl would have been fired together, in a saggar, possibly in a large wood-burning dragon-kiln or climbing-kiln, typical of southern kilns in the period.

Though many Song and Yuan qingbai bowls were fired upside down in special segmented saggars, a technique first developed at the Ding kilns in Hebei province. The rims of such wares were left unglazed but were often bound with bands of silver, copper or lead.

One remarkable example of qingbai porcelain is the so-called Fonthill Vase, described in a guide for Fonthill Abbey published in 1823

“…an oriental china bottle, superbly mounted, said to be the earliest known specimen of porcelain introduced into Europe”

The vase was made at Jingdezhen, probably around 1300 and was sent as a present to Pope Benedict XII by one of the last Yuan emperors of China, in 1338. The mounts referred to in the 1823 description were of enamelled silver-gilt and were added to the vase in Europe in 1381. An 18th century water colour of the vase complete with its mounts exists, but the mounts themselves were removed and lost in the 19th century. The vase is now in the National Museum of Ireland. It is often held that qingbai wares were not subject to the higher standards and regulations of the other porcelain wares, since they were made for everyday use. They were mass-produced, and received little attention from scholars and antiquarians. The Fonthill Vase, given by a Chinese emperor to a pope, might appear to cast at least some doubt on this view.

Feb

12

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.”

Feb

8

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…”

Feb

8

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.