Tang sancai refers to the tri-coloured glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A. D.), a painted earthenware which appeared in the wake of celadon. It is called “tri-coloured ” because yellow, green and white were normally used, although some pieces are also in two or four colours. Developed on the basis of the green and brown glazed- pottery of the Han Dynasty, it represented a peak in the development of Chinese ceramics and was already well-known in the world in its time.
Unearthed tri-coloured Tangs are usually horses, camels, female figurines, dragon-head mugs, figurines of musicians and acrobats, and pillows. Of these, the three-coloured camels have won the greatest admiration. They are presented as bearing loads of silk or carrying musicians on their backs, their heads raised as if neighing; the red-bearded, blue-eyed drivers, clad in tunics of tight sleeves and hats with upturned brims, reproduce true-to-life images of men from Central Asia of that time as they trudged along the Silk Road to the tinkle of camel bells.
The first eggshell porcelains date back to prehistoric times, some 2000 years BC and were made by ring modelling, around about this time the potters wheel was invented.
The Chinese sat on the floor, early on in their culture, but with time, low couches and chairs were introduced, most probably through the spread of Buddhism and the figures of Buddha on raised platforms. The idea of being elevated and of being above others was brought into being and saw couches and chairs getting raised higher and higher from the floor. Where special guests, dignitaries, and noblemen were “above” the commoner who remained on the floor.
The colour blue gained recognition during the Tang dynasty (618 – 907). The colour comes from cobalt ores. During the Yuan (1279 – 1368) Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing (1644 – 1911) dynasties, different types of cobalt ore and methods of use determined the shades of blue that appears on blue-and-white porcelain ware. The cobalt pigment is one of the few that can stand the highest firing temperatures that are needed for porcelain.
What is mother of pearl (nacre) ? It is a smooth shining iridescent substance formed on the inner layer of some molluscs, like the oyster and abalone.
Mother of pearl has been used for centuries as a decorative inlay on lacquer ware. It was first thought that mother of pearl oyster beds existed in three regions, the Persian gulf, the red sea and the Sri Lanka coast, but explorers soon found pearl oysters throughout tropical waters. The shells were harvested and exported around the world as people became enamored by this lustrous marvel from the sea.
Chinese ink-stone! what is it? It is literally a mortar for grinding and containing ink. Or you could say an artists mixing palette for ink. It evolved from a tool for rubbing dyes, around 7000 years ago. The Chinese ink was solidified into a stick or round ink-cake, which were then gradually ground down on the surface of the stone using a circular movement and with the addition of water from a water dropper which controlled the amount of water. The ink that was produced from this went into the ink-stones reservoir, until enough ink had been produced for the task at hand.
The brush pot (bitong) is mostly a cylindrical container for holding brushes used by scholars. They are made from various materials such as stone, porcelain and bamboo and often are decorated with ornate motifs, symbols and carvings.
The numerous brushes would be rinsed and stored in the pot with their handles down, so that the bundles of hair would keep their shape and point.
The brush is an important tool to the scholar. With it he could engage in calligraphy, landscape and still life painting. Like the pots the brushes came in an array of sizes.
Chinese brush washers were created at the same time as ink painting, and were used to remove excess ink from the brush while the scholar painted, or after the painting was finished. A common shape for the brush washer was a lotus leaf or flower.
Cantonese porcelain is a style of ceramic ware decorated in what is now Guangzhou the capitol of Guangdong, which was the only legal port prior to 1842 to export goods to Europe. Making it one of the biggest export wares produced in China during the 18th -20th century.