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A Crash Course in the History of Chinese Ceramics

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Chinese ceramics are known throughout the world as some of the highest quality porcelain that you can find. With its intricate detailing, it’s easy to see why they’ve lasted the test of time. But have you ever wondered when did Chinese ceramics appear in the world?

The oldest pottery in the world dates back 20,000 years to northern China. This is much older than previous artifacts and shows that people were making clay vessels much earlier than previously thought.

Here we explore the history of Chinese ceramics and how they went from simple beginnings and grew into the porcelain pottery that people know and love today.

Origins of Chinese Ceramics

Chinese ceramics began in the early Neolithic period which was around 6,000 BC. Because of the constraints that the people who lived in this time period had to work with, the pottery produced was of a more simple fashion. These ceramics were simple clay pots and other earthenware used low-temperature fire to harden.

These ancient Chinese artifacts were made using simple hand-forming techniques that are still taught today to beginner pottery students. This resulted in ceramicware that had wide variances in structure and shape.

As the Neolithic period progressed, the invention of other tools like the potter’s wheel came along. This sped up the production of pottery, as well as increased its uniformity and intricacy.

How Chinese Ceramics Evolved

Chinese ceramics have always had intricate designs. Their colors were simple and limited to the techniques available. Ceramic kiln firing evolved to use higher temperatures in the Tang dynasty. This produced more intricate glazes both in color and the materials used.

Mixing different metals, crushed stones, and glass created a variety of glazing techniques. This is also where harder-to-make colors such as blue began.

Ceramic forms began to take on a more decorative nature. This came from the Silk Road heavily influencing pottery-making at this time.

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One of the most popular trends from this era was celadon glazed pottery. It produces subtle hues with the most common being a light green color with an opaque quality.

Chinese Porcelain Changed the Game

Although the discovery of porcelain happened in the Tang dynasty, its popularity didn’t rise until the Song dynasty. Chinese porcelain was the perfect blank canvas for painting ornate designs onto the pottery.

Most early porcelain was glazed with an ivory color and decorated with simple carvings. Many reflected themes that came from everyday life and nature in that period.

In the Yuan dynasty porcelain started to become mass-produced. This is where the iconic blue and white designs rose into use that people recognize today. It is in this time period that porcelain was being exported in mass quantities in the Middle East, and countries like Turkey.

The height of Chinese porcelain was in the Qing dynasty, around 1644. Color combinations like the five-color technique depicted a range of complex scenes and designs on the pottery.

Later in the 1700s, people decorated porcelain using enamel. This allowed for enhanced designs and colors that became highly popular.

Modern Chinese Ceramics

Today people are reviving the art of Chinese ceramics. Thus preserving this ancient art form, and bringing it into the modern era, with new design techniques and methods.

Chinese ceramics are still sought out for their beautiful color and designs. These works of art make excellent centerpieces in your home or a new addition to your collection.

If you enjoyed this article or would like to learn more about Chinese ceramics, check out our other posts in lifestyle, entertainment, and travel today!


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