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Eggshell and Blanc de Chine

Eggshell China (Botaici)

A gem of Chinese ceramics, eggshell china is remarkable for its extraordinary thinness. Yet it is appreciated also because it is spotlessly white, translucent, and sonorous when tapped. Yinggingci (shadowy celadon) is its forerunner, which was produced as early as in the Northern Song Dynasty (906-1127).
Eggshell is made mainly into bowls, vases, cups, lamp-shades and articles for use in the study. Whatever form it assumes, one may appreciate through its paper-thin wall with its coloured painting on the other side like watching the moon through flimsy clouds, or green hills through a thin mist with the beauty enhanced by a veiled effect.

To make such "insubstantial" utensils, an exacting craftsmanship is needed. It requires the best and most carefully selected kaolin, mixing of ingredients according to strict prescriptions and repeated tempering of the clay before the potter moulds the paste into bodies. Then, a master craftsman will wield various cutting tools to shape them finely into eggshell thinness and have them fired in the kiln at a high temperature of over 1,300 degrees celsius. The most difficult part of this process is the fine-moulding, which finalises the form of the utensil.

Blanc de Chine

Blanc de Chine is a type of white Chinese porcelain produced from the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644).

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 the 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 color.

The porcelain body is not very plastic but vessel forms have been made from it. Donnelly 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.

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