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Guide to Early Chinese Ceramics

The Beginning of Porcelain

The Chinese developed true porcelain during the T'ang dynasty in the ninth century. It has a translucent white clay body composed of kaolin and petuntse (feldspar) that is fired at a temperature between 1,250O - 1,450OC. This was the thinnest, hardest ceramic known, a miraculous substance to the Middle East and Europe of the Middle Ages when it began to be imported. Its pure white color provided a perfect ground for painted d├ęcor and its plasticity allowed thin potting and detailed modeling. It wasn't until around 1715 that a true hard-paste porcelain was developed in Europe about 800 years after its invention in China. Accordingly, from the fourteenth century on the great land and sea trade routes linking China to the rest of the known world were flooded with hard-paste porcelain as well as silk. By 1800 Chinese blue-and-white porcelain and its numerous foreign imitations could be found in every industrialized country in the world.




Ewer with Pheasant's Head Stopper

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