Earthenware containers crafted by hand from clay by China eight thousand years ago were some of the first ceramics created by man. Potters’ wheels enabled dramatic improvements in ceramic technology during the late Neolithic period. The sophisticatIt is irrefutably evident that early Chinese potters were highly skilled, as evidenced by the terracotta warriors discovered inside Emperor Qin’s tomb (259-210 BCE).
As numerous new technologies and styles were developed across the centuries, China remained the leading producer of ceramics. Its three-colour earthenware, named for its bright yellow glaze and green and white glazes, was one of the most important pieces during the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE.). A decorative medium of art first widely used during this period was ceramic.
Celadon is a Western term for a green glaze applied to ceramics from Longquan in China. An oxygen-reduced atmosphere is required for the glaze, which is made of clay mixed with wood ash and contains 2-5% iron.
The celadon method was first used in China during the 7th century. A high standard of skill had been reached by the time of the Song dynasty (960-1280) among potters, which resulted in fine vessels having a jade-like texture and appearance. A lotus flower and stylised chrysanthemum were incised for decoration in the 14th century.
It is thought that the production of Celadon in Thailand started in the 14th century, around the time of the ‘Ming ban’ of 1371, when emperor Hongwu prohibited his subjects from trading with anyone else. Chinese migrants are believed to be responsible.
Blue-and-White Porcelain (also called “Underglaze Blue”)
Most ceramic tradeware is made of porcelain. From the ‘underglaze blue’ (blue cobalt oxide underneath the glaze), it is frequently called ‘Blue-and-White’. From the late 17th century onwards, Europeans traded porcelain widely, which was one of the reasons Chinese porcelain became well known Asian Ceramics. In the Middle East and Southeast Asia, China had already been exporting blue-and-white porcelain for five centuries.
When Portugal’s first merchants visited China, they realized its value and began importing small quantities for European nobles. A load of porcelain was sent first to Amsterdam in 1603 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC), which later sold it for a handsome profit. Chinese blue-and-white porcelain became popular in Europe and North America after that date since it was considered the best in the world.
“Blue-and-white” porcelain first appeared during the Yuan dynasty (1127 – 1279) but became so pervasive during the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644) that today blue-and-white and Ming are commonly used interchangeably.
Since the Song dynasty (960 – 1279), whiteware porcelain has been produced in Jingdezhen, China, and at a great number of other southern kilns. Qingbai (pronounced ching-pie) is one of the most famous early porcelains. Southeast Asia was a major market for whiteware porcelain. It was the dominant Chinese porcelain of the 14th century until it was eclipsed by blue-and-white.
Its jade-like appearance is due to the clear glaze that contains small amounts of iron. It is also known as yingqing. Qingbai (also called yingqing) has a bluish-white color. This glaze produces a greenish-blue color when applied to a white porcelain body. In some cases, decorations are molded or incised.
In China, the Chinese used black iron oxide to paint motifs under a clear protective glaze before incorporating cobalt into blue-and-white porcelain. A celadon production method in southern China evolved independently of this technique used at Cizhou in northern China.
Underglaze techniques appeared in Thailand and Vietnam as early as the 14th century. As a symbol of long life and happiness, long fish and chrysanthemums were chosen in Thailand. Vietnam was known for its flower motifs. The occurrence of underglaze decoration techniques (painting with oxides, then applying glaze) was highly likely from Chinese immigrants who settled in Thailand and Vietnam.
Three-Colour Ceramics (also called “Sanci”)
The name Sancai means three colors. It is important to note, however, that the wares of the Tang dynasty (618 – 911) did not have to be decorated with three colors. Due to the use of green, yellow, and white colors, Tang sancai wares were sometimes called egg-and-spinach by dealers in the West. It might be more accurate to describe the latter as amber and off-white / cream.
Northern China produces Sancai wares. Kiln sites in Hebei and Henan were similar to those of Tang potters that used clays similar to those used by burial ware potters in Tongchuan and Neiqui counties. A lower temperature was used for the burial wares than in contemporary whitewares. A well-known example is the cast representation of camels and horses in sections, cast in luted moulds together. The assembled figurines were sometimes hand-carved to add a sense of individuality.
Potters began using bright colours to create intricately painted scenes on plates and vases during the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911). Ceramicists of the Western world produced five-colour ware by applying underglaze pigments to floral, landscape, and figurative scenes – a style that was (and still is) incredibly popular.
A wide range of colors and tones of fencai enamel were developed during the Yung Cheng era (1723-1735).
For the past 10.000 years, earthenware has been the earliest type of pottery. Pots were formed from secondary clay either on a pottery wheel or by rolling it into strings and laying them on top of each other. Since earthenware was typically burned in pits, it can be found in the majority of early civilizations. Flames are usually between 400 and 700 degrees Celsius.
The earthenware was most likely transported on trade ships as a necessity on board. Earthenware was never intended for export, judging by their limited number. One Can find these Asian Ceramics for Sale in online and offline auctions.