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Ceramic History

Pottery to Porcelain

In the history of Chinese ceramics, porcelain derived from pottery and appeared later. In the early years, people have made splendid achievements in ceramic field especially in Yellow River and Changjiang River drainage area where a lot of potteries and pottery fragments in the Neolithic age were unearthed at historical sites. Some of them were not only commodities, but also artworks such as ancient painted pottery and pottery figurine. With the development of pottery industry, the previous clay-strip forming technique has been changed to throw clay method, while advanced side-fired kiln and shaft kiln replaced ground firing. People at that time also got some experience on how to control the temperature. The highest firing temperature had reached 1100℃, which was quite close to the firing temperature between pottery and porcelain. In the early period of Yin and Shang Dynasty, the appearance of white pottery whose material was porcelain clay and hard pottery symbolized the transition from pottery to porcelain.

Primitive Celadon to Celadon

The difference between primitive celadon and pottery is: Primitive celadon was harder and more durable than pottery. Because of the glaze applied to the surface of primitive celadon, it usually had a ringing sound when being knocked. But the measure of dealing with raw materials and clay was tough to some degree. The complicated processes such as filtrating, washing, pugging, mulling and aging were omitted; Moreover, the modeling was relatively drab due to the poor plasticity and the body was liable to crack due to its impurity; Besides, the glaze color was unstable and its thickness was uneven; as a result, the bareness of the tyre and flowing of glaze sometimes occur. Then, in Dong Han Dynasty, throw clay method was applied to make primitive celadon. The shape was regular, surface smooth and glaze thicker; the combination between tyre and glaze became compact and scalding rarely occurs. All the things mentioned above showed that a mature period for celadon was coming.

Celadon,Black Porcelain,White Porcelai

In Dong Han Dynasty, the appearance of mature celadon in Yue kiln was a milestone in the history of Chinese ceramics. Wei Dynasty, Jin Dynasty, the South and North Dynasty were just the seedtime. At that time, celadon played an important role in ceramics, which was widely fired. In the mean time, a small quality of black glazed porcelain and white glazed porcelain were discovered. Because of the unity of different nations and the introduction of Buddhism, the ceramic style became various during this period.

White Porcelain

In the latter part of North Dynasty, white porcelain first appeared in North China. Iron content embodied in the tyre was controlled and the difficulty of color generation in iron was overcome. This laid a foundation for the appearance of ancient painted porcelain. The successful firing of white porcelain was another milestone in the history of Chinese ceramics. In Sui and Tang Dyansty, the Chinese politics, economy, culture and trade became unprecedentedly prosperous, which promoted the progress of ceramics industry, the expansion of ceramic market and later formed the situation of "celadon in south and white porcelain in north." Celadon was the main product of South China. Yue kiln was the typical representative with high artistic value. The tyre was light, thin and compact; the glaze layer was transparent and exquisite. White porcelain of Xing kiln in Tang Dynasty was the representative of "North white". The degree of whiteness in both body and glaze was good. Its body was compact and usually had a ringing sound when being knocked. From the late Tang Dynasty, many famous kilns appeared.

“Six Kiln Factions” and “Five Famous Kilns”

Song Dynasty was the third prosperous period of the feudal society. Technology, culture, art and handicraft were highly developed. The ceramic industry was flourishing too. Porcelain kilns with regional feature spread all over the country, which formed the layout of "six kiln factions" and "five famous kilns". "Six kiln factions" were Ding kiln faction, Jun kiln faction, Yaozhou kiln faction, Cizhou kiln faction, Longquan kiln faction and Jingdezhen kiln faction. "Five famous kilns" were Guan kiln, Ru kiln, Ge kiln, Ding kiln and Jun kiln. After the establishment of Guan kilns in Song Dynasty, different artistic styles were formed in folk kilns. The famous porcelain city Jingdezhen grew up in Yuan Dynasty, and it was known for its blue-and-white porcelain, underglazed red porcelain and egg white porcelain.

Decorative Porcelain

In Ming and Qing Dynasty, Chinese porcelain art took on a brilliant and splendid look after thousands of years of development. Ancient painted porcelain became prosperous: such as blue-and-white, wu-cai, dou-cai, plain tri-color, underglazed san-cai, enamel color, fen-cai and so on. The painted porcelains in Ming and Qing Dynasty merged the ceramic art into a whole and gradually became perfect. Single color glaze were of various kinds: sacrificial red glaze, sacrificial blue glaze, Lang kiln red glaze, Jiangdou red glaze, yellow glaze, peacock green glaze and so on. Besides, new progress has been made in the making of ceramics. For example, wheel jiggering has replaced bamboo knife jiggering. Moreover, blowing glaze technology began to be used. From then on, the quality and quantity of porcelain increased rapidly. The ceramic industry of Ming and Qing Dynasty reached the summit and greatly influenced modern Chinese ceramic industry.

The Development of Pottery and Porcelain

China, as one of the world's most ancient civilizations, has made a multiple of contributions for the advancement and improvement of human societies, among which pottery and porcelain occupy a unique position and boast great significance. It is fair to say that ceramics history is a very important part of China's history. Ceramics of distinctively different artistic and technological styles in different periods throughout different dynasties contain both scientific and aesthetic features. The word "china" clearly shows that the country is the "home of pottery and porcelain."

About 1,000 years before the Europeans mastered the technology of producing porcelain, Chinese could already make very delicate and refined chinaware. China was among the first countries in the world to use pottery, while another invention, porcelain, has throughout the ages and the world been admired and valued for its use and beauty.

Pottery and porcelain refer to all products, which are made of a mixture of clay, the main ingredient, feldspar, and quartz, after shaping, drying, and firing. Archaeological finds have revealed that humankind first invented pottery in the Neolithic Age in China (approximately 8,000-2,000BC). Farm production, which arose in the latter stage of primitive society, led to a fairly stable, settled life for Chinese ancestors, which made the invention of pottery necessary. For convenience and to improve living standards, ancient Chinese experimented with making vessels, gradually developing the art of firing pottery out of clay.

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History of Ceramics
The invention of ceramics was an important progress in the history of human civilizations. It was the first time that men used natural materials to create a completely new thing.
Changsha Kiln
The Changsha Kiln was first established in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and its site was found in the town of Tongguan in the suburb of Changsha in Central China's Hunan Province , hence its other name of the Tongguan Kiln.
Calligraphy and Painting for Ceramics
Pottery and porcelain art has a lot in common with ancient Chinese painting in terms of artistic essence, characteristics, and expressive ways.
Chinese Ceramics Culture
The charm of Chinese ceramics culture not only lies in its wide range of expressions on social life, nature, culture, customs, philosophy, and various notions, but also in the way of its expression, which is a demonstration of Chinese culture from many angles.
Cizhou Kiln
The main Cizhou kiln, located at Guantaizhen in Handan of North China's Hebei Province (at that time under the Cizhou Administration), was an important kiln in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and a representative of the civil kilns. Cizhou porcelain was a type of ordinary household ware manufactured in the region of Cizhou, hence the ware's name.
Dehua Kiln
The first Dehua Kiln, whose white porcelain became a representative genre of the Chinese porcelain industry, was a famous kiln that specialized in white porcelain making. Its sites spread about within the scope of today's Dehua County, in East China's Fujian Province.
Ding Kiln
Ding kilns were one of the five renowned kinds of kilns of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) in ancient northern China. Ding ware was mainly white porcelain. The central kiln site was located in Jianci Village in Quyang County of North China's Hebei Province.
Yue Kiln
The main Yue Kiln first appeared in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The kilns in today's Huiji, Shanyin, Zhuji, Yuyao, Shanxian, Xiaoshan, and Shangyu counties, which belonged to the Yue Prefecture in the Tang Dynasty, are all part of the Yue Kiln, which is famous for its fine celadon productions.
Ge Kiln
The original Ge Kiln was reportedly located in Longquan County of East China's Zhejiang Province, but so far no site has been discovered.
Guan Kilns
Guan kilns refer to official kilns directly run by the government, and the products of which were exclusively supplied for the imperial courts or governmental officials.
Jiangyang Kiln
The Jiangyang Kiln, also known as the Jian Kiln, was a famous kiln in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and was located in Jianyang of East China's Fujian Province.
Jun Kiln
Jun kilns, with the main kiln site located in Yuxian County of Central China's Henan Province, constituted a famous school of porcelain manufacture that flourished in the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
Longquan Kiln
The porcelain of Longquan ware represented a great school of southern celadon that arose in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It was manufactured in fairly vast areas in the southwestern part of East China's Zhejiang Province.
Ru Kiln
The Ru kiln located in Linru County of Central China's Henan Province represented another major celadon school that rose in northern China in the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
Shiwan Kiln
The Shiwan Kiln, located in Foshan of South China's Guangdong Province, began its porcelain business in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), though some argue that it began in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In any event, the kiln reached its prime during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911).
Xing Kiln
As one of the most famous kilns in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Xing Kiln was best known for its production of white porcelain.
Yaozhou Kiln
The original Yaozhou Kiln is located in Yaozhou, which is present-day Huangbaozhen in Tongchuan of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province. Yaozhou ware was another major school of porcelain in northern China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
Yixing Kiln
The Yixing Kiln in Tixing of East China's Jiangsu Province has undergone great changed throughout its history. Celadon (glazed pottery) began to be fired at the kiln early in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD).

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