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The Development of Porcelain

In China, porcelain enjoys a very long history. It came into being through several thousand years hard work and accumulating experience by early potters. The earliest porcelain appeared in the Shang and Zhou dynasties. And its making became steadily popular in the Warring States Period, when it began to step out of its primitive state. As times progress, the making of porcelain ware improves with new techniques and creativities, resulting in having different styles from one period to another period.

During the Han Dynasty, celadon and black porcelain were mainly produced. Celadon is a type of grayish-green glaze, which is like the color of jade. Developments in the productions of celadon porcelain continue to carry on into the later dynasties.
White porcelain appeared during the Northern Dynasties (386-581).

Porcelain became more varied and colorful in the Sui and Tang dynasties. Glaze ingredients containing different metal oxides became available to produce brilliant underglaze (pre-glaze) colors via firing.

During the late Tang Dynasty, the Five Dynasties (907-960), and early in the Song Dynasty, Yue ware celadon (from the Yuezhou kilns around Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province ), with a fine paste, had "the verdure of a thousand mountain peaks" and was "like dewy budding lotus flowers." The feudal ruling class monopolized this exquisite ware, known as "porcelain of secret color" (the olive-green of fine Yue ware), as tribute to the Imperial Court.

In the history of Chinese porcelain, the porcelain wares of the Song Dynasty can be classified as a classic example of porcelain art in the entire world. Song porcelains have achieved an excellent combination of shape, glaze and decoration to its ware. Porcelain kilns mushroomed in different places in the Song Dynasty. Among all the famous kilns, the Ru Kiln, Jun Kiln, Guan Kiln, Ge Kiln and the Ding Kiln are the top five most famous kilns.

In the Song, Liao, (916-1125), and Jin (1125-1234) dynasties, decorative designs were painted over the glaze, black designs or red and green patterns on white porcelain, with this painting on porcelain marking an entirely new stage in Chinese porcelain art.

The Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) saw continuous new developments in the art of porcelain making which contributed to different types of famous wares.  

Porcelain-manufacturing craft attained its acme in Chinese history in the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). This was shown in a tremendous variety of vessel shapes, lustrous colors, and splendid designs made possible by the fine texture of the paste, adequate firing, abundance of pigments, improvement of craftsmanship, and various social influences of the time. Apart from exquisite patterns, Ming porcelain decoration featured landscapes, portraits, and flower-and-bird and other paintings, while most of the Qing paintings on porcelain were works of famous contemporary artists or imitations of their works.  

China's various dynasties have seen a wealth of wares including the green Yue ware of Yuezhou, Xing white porcelain ware of Xingzhou, Ding ware in Hebei, Ru ware of Ruzhou, the celadon of Longquan in present-day Zhejiang Province, and Jingdezhen ware.

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