Famille-Rose Porcelain History

Famille-Rose porcelain gets its name from the pinkish hue that characterises the pieces. This colouring is created by adding colloidal gold, tiny fragments of gold suspended in water, to the glaze. The technique was introduced to China from Europe during the reign of the Qing Dynasty Emperor Yongzheng, who ruled from 1723 to 1735.

Some authorities give Jesuit priests the credit for bringing the process to China, and the Chinese themselves called Famille-rose ‘fencai’, meaning foreign colour.

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Cinnabar Lacquer – History & Creation

Cinnabar Lacquer pieces have a distinctive red colour combined with highly detailed carving. The origins of cinnabar lacquer-ware are lost in the mists of time, but are believed to date back as far as 2,300 years ago. In today’s market, the best available pieces are from the mid- to late-Qing dynasty period of the 18th and 19th centuries, although pieces from the 17th century occasionally appear at auction.

Earlier pieces, dating back as far as the 13th century, are only to be found in museums or private collections. Even those in museum collections are rarely seen because they are so light sensitive.

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Yang-ts’ai Porcelain

In 1743, T’ang Ying, overseer of the Jiangxi Imperial kilns, wrote that “Both round ware and vases of white porcelain are painted in enamel colours in a style imitated from Western foreigners, which is consequently called Yang-ts’ai, or ‘foreign colouring.'”

Yang-ts’ai ceramics feature Western shading and perspective techniques, white pigment to show light patterns on leaf and flower motifs, and Western-style floral formations.

T’ang Ying is given much of the credit for taking Western influences and melding them with the themes and style of traditional Chinese art. This exceptional craftsman also introduced the sgraffiato technique, a sophisticated method of ceramic engraving.

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Guan and Ge Wares History

The Song Imperial kilns were in two main locations: at the former capital city of Bianjing (present day Kaifeng city) during the Northern Song Dynasty, and later at the city of Hangzhou in the Southern Song Dynasty after the regime moved southward. The Northern Song Imperial kilns produced celadon, but with various shades and lustre in the glaze. The glaze colours included light greenish-blue, moon white, glossy grey and yellow-green. Though the colours were different, they all contained the common element of green or blue-green, and their beauty was heightened by the different coloured bodies. The bodies can be blackish grey, dark grey, light grey or earth yellow, and when coated in glaze, produced different greens and blues. Since the body colours were quite deep, it conveyed a sense of sophistication.

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Chinese Jun Ware History

One of the “Five Great Kilns,” Jun stonewares with their thick, lavender-blue glaze and areas of purple and violet were formerly known in the West as “Clair de Lune” and came from the Henan province. As of today, over a hundred kiln sites have been discovered. Some specialised in producing porcelain ware for the Imperial courts, with a history dating back to the Tang Dynasty. According to tradition they were mainly manufactured under the Northern Song Dynasty at Yangzhe which under the Jin Dynasty was renamed Junzhou. The name “Junuao” only appears in Chinese texts in the Ming period; for this reason some experts have reservations about the dating. However, the excavations at Jungzhou in 1964 have established that Jun ware appeared in the Song period with increased manufacture during the Jin period.

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Ming Swatow Wares

Collectors prize Swatow ware for its colourful glazes and exuberant, freeform decoration. Swatow ceramics were made during China’s late Ming period, mainly for export to South East Asia.

‘Swatow’, derived from the place-name Shantou, is in fact a misnomer. These ceramics were neither manufactured nor exported from Shantou, which was a small fishing village during the heyday of Swatow ware in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Modern-era archaeological excavations have confirmed that Swatow ware was actually produced in the Zhangzhou prefecture in the southeast of China, with nearby Yuegang acting as the main port of export. In the light of this improved knowledge, these ceramics are now often referred to as Zhangzhou wares.

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Deqing Ware History

Famed for their black, shiny porcelain ware, the Deqing kilns can be considered complementary to the more popular Yue ware. Dating back to the East Jin Dynasty (317 – 420 A.D.) and ending during the early Southern Dynasties (420 – 589 A.D.) the wares were only actively produced for about a century, after which they faded into obscurity. As a result, porcelain wares of the Deqing kilns preserved to present day are extremely rare.

As well as glazed black porcelain, the Deqing kilns produced their own celadon. Its ancient sites were located within Deqing County in Zhejiang Province, where as many as a dozen kiln sites have been found. This is one of the earliest production areas of black porcelain in Zhejiang.

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Ding Ware History

Heralded during the Song Dynasty, the Ding kilns were celebrated as one of the “Five Great Kilns” producing porcelain in ancient China. The site of the kilns was found in present day Quyang County, Hebei Province. At the time of the Song Dynasty, Quyang County was within the Dingzhou region, hence the name Ding kilns. The excavated artefacts found at the site reveal the history of the kilns.

White porcelain was produced in Dingzhou as early as the Tang Dynasty; by the Five Dynasties Period, the Ding kiln business was already booming. After the Northern Song Dynasty, Ding wares were famous for their off-white glazes and exquisite decoration. Porcelain kilns in other areas all strived to imitate Ding porcelain, which became the golden standard of white porcelain in China. Aside from white porcelain, the Ding wares also produced black, crimson and green-glazed porcelains. The variety of glaze colours and production technology was truly astounding for its time.

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