Story of the Chinese Kiln

Story of the Chinese Kiln
Chinese Dragon Kiln

Although they are overlooked and not given much of a thought by the antique collector. They are a very important subject, for without them where would the porcelain admirer be? So let us delve a little into their history.

Ancient kilns sites were distributed over a large area of China. They would be established in locations with easy access to clay mining, located near a wooded area, where firewood could be obtained for the kilns, also near a waterway for transportation by boat.

There were different kilns, like the Muffle kilns, Mantou, Dragon, gourd shape and egg shaped kilns.

Amongst all the ancient kilns, the Yue kilns were the first official or imperial kilns. These kilns began in the Eastern Han dynasty (206 – 220) and developed on to the song dynasty (960 -1279) giving them over a 1000 years of history back then.

Yue is a type of stoneware, which is characteristically decorated with a celadon glaze. The glaze was olive or brownish green. The kilns were in the Zhejiang, Guangdong, Jiangxi and Fujian provinces.

A Yueyao Bixie Form Vessel
A Yueyao Bixie Form Vessel – Western Jin dynasty (265-317)

Another kiln site in the Fujian province where hundreds of old Kilns are found is around the town of Dehua, Fujian province. Although the kilns began sometime during the Song dynasty (960 – 1279) most examples of the porcelain are attributed to the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644). This being the white porcelain known as blanc de chine, but the earliest wares were Qingbai, Qingbai ware is white with a blue-green tint.

The origins of the dragon kiln go back to the Shang dynasty and is traditional to Southern China, these kilns were smaller than later examples, being some 5 – 12 meters long and had a lesser slope, the later dragon kilns were up to 60 metres long and needed between a 10 and 16 degree slope. These kilns could reach a temperatures of 1400 Celsius.

The kilns that predominated the plains of North China were the mantou type kilns. A mantou kiln is a horseshoe-shaped kiln which emerged during the warring state period. Initially the kilns were fired by wood, but during the song dynasty (960 – 1127) there was a change to coal, which is common in Northern China.

The Gourd shaped kiln is a unique ceramic kiln only found in Jingdezhen. The gourd shaped kiln was used throughout the 14th century. Near the end of the Ming dynasty it was usurped by the egg-shaped kiln, which was shaped like a half egg on its side, with a tall chimney and was also unique to Jingdezhen, which has produced pottery since the sixth century CE. By the 14th century it had become the largest centre producing Chinese porcelain and which it has remained to this day.

Blanc de Chine Baijiu Cocktail

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
25ml of Triple sec
45ml of single cream
Champagne
3 ice cubes

Put everything except the champagne into a cocktail shaker and shake to mix, then strain into a cocktail glass, top with Champagne and enjoy.

Chinese Antique Valuations And Appraisals

Do you own a piece of Chinese porcelain or an oriental work of art that you would like to know more about, such as age, history and value?

Then you should really consider using our Chinese Antique Valuation Service as the last thing you want to do is risk under selling the piece due to lack of knowledge or ill gotten advice.