6000 - 1000 B.C.
The first ceramics produced in China around ten or eleven thousand years ago were utilitarian wares and this early role for basic pottery has never diminished. However, long before the Bronze Age (ca. 1000 B.C.), fanciful thin-walled, painted, and burnished earthenwares, some of intricate shapes were being used as ritual vessels in various Neolithic cultures located along the Yellow and Yangtze river valleys. Some of these regional cultures include Ta-ti-wan (6000 B.C.), Pan-po (ca. 5000 B.C.), Miao-ti-kou (4000-3000 B.C.), Ma-jia-yao/Yang-shao (4000-2000 B.C.) Lung shan (3000-2000 B.C.) and Ta-wen-kou (4500-3500 B.C.).
Mostly hand built, these red, grey, and black wares often reveal a craftsmanship and beauty exceptional for their age. Once the crafting of bronze, lacquer and precious metals were mastered, the ritual status afforded ceramics declined and ceramic shapes began to imitate those of metal almost as soon as the latter appeared.