Chinese Antique Glossary – H

Han Dynasty

206 BC-AD 220 and comprising Western Han, 206 BC-AD8; Xin, AD 9-23; and Eastern Han, AD 25-220.

Hetaomu (Juglans, walnut)

This softwood was used primarily during the Qing Dynasty in the Shanxi region. While hetaomu encompasses a variety of species, it typically has an open-grain texture, with colors tending towards golden brown to reddish brown. These features make this wood well-suited to furniture construction.

Read more

Chinese Antique Glossary – G


Deriving from the French word gris (grey), this is a painting executed entirely in monochromatic tones of grey and white. Although often used for study sketches, a painting en grisaille can be a completed work in its own right. Sometimes it has been executed as a model for an engraver to work from, or is the initial compositional underpainting for an unfinished picture.
In Chinese ceramics this term is sometimes used to describe porcelains decorated with black or dark brown overglaze enamel.

Read more

Chinese Antique Glossary – F


Literal translation: ‘regulated decoration’. This style of decoration on stonewares or porcelains resembles that of cloisonné metalwork. On fahua-decorated ceramics thin, raised slip lines are used to outline areas of the decoration, and incising is used to give texture to certain motifs. The unglazed porcelain object is fired and then enamels are applied to the ground and to the individual areas created by the slip lines. The raised slip lines serve to inhibit enamels of different colors from flowing into each other. On stoneware pieces decorated in fahua style, a white slip coating is applied in order to provide a good surface onto which the enamels can be applied. The fahua style of decoration appears to have first been developed on stonewares made in Shanxi province during the Yuan dynasty. The earliest are from the Xuande reign (1426-35).

Read more

Chinese Antique Glossary – E


Earthenware is the most porous of the three main types of ceramic ware, having a porosity of more than 5% after firing. Most of the clays used to make earthenware are only suitable for firing to a relatively low temperature, between 800-1100oC. After firing the ceramics are permeable, and vessels are therefore frequently glazed. The most common glazes used on Chinese earthenwares are lead-fluxed glazes. In China, earthenwares are designated tao to differentiate them from high-fired wares such as stoneware or porcelain.

Read more

Chinese Antique Glossary – D


The Dehua kilns in Fujian province produced a number of different wares but are most famous for fine white porcelains with glossy, transparent, colorless glaze. The best known of these are Buddhist and Daoist figures, and vessels such as incense burners and vases. While the majority of Dehua porcelains are monochrome white, some have underglaze blue decoration and others bear designs in overglaze enamels. Dehua porcelains are among the few Chinese ceramics on which potter’s seals are regularly found. Dehua wares were exported to the west in considerable numbers, and some were made in forms designed to appeal to Western tastes. In older European books, Dehua porcelains are often referred to as Blanc-de-Chine.

Read more

Chinese Antique Glossary – C


This term is applied to high-fired ceramics with greenish-blue-grey glazes, which owe their color to the reduction of iron oxide in the glaze during firing. Celadon wares were made in China from the Shang dynasty, but those from the period 10th-14th century are particularly admired. The name is not used in Asia, but is of Western origin. It may derive from the color of a costume worn by the shepherd, Celadon, in Honoré D’Urfé’s 17th century pastoral romance L’Astrée. It may alternatively derive from a corruption of the name Saladin, the name of the Sultan who, in AD 1171, sent a gift of such ceramics to the Sultan of Damascus. In China such wares are known as qingci, high-fired green wares.

Read more

Chinese Antique Glossary – A


Literal translation: ‘hidden/secret decoration’. Anhua decoration is usually applied to a white, porcelain body before it is covered in a colorless, transparent glaze. The designs are incised with a fine point, impressed, or painted on with a brush using slip. Such decoration is often difficult to see, hence the name. Anhua decoration became particularly popular in the early Ming period and was also favoured in the Qing dynasty, especially for archaistic pieces.

Read more