Pot making has been one of humankind’s first inventions. When man discovered that clay could be dug up and moulded into objects, the ceramic industry was born. People formed animal and human figurines from clay and other materials. These figurines were then fired in kilns that were partially dug into the ground. Due to the durability of fired clay, it remains one of the best records of beginnings of culture. The first pottery vessels were used for storing water and food. Today, different types of ceramics have come up for domestic, industrial and commercial purposes. Ceramic ware, pottery products and sanitary ware are a common sight in most homes across the globe. Read on further for more interesting and amazing information on the origin and background of Chinese ceramics.
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Chinese Ceramics
Pottery was invented in the Neolithic period (5000-2200 B.C.) and soon after the Chinese successfully produced painted pottery, black pottery and carved pottery. They then entered into a new ceramic age in the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) after a long experience in kiln firing. Although archaeologists have found that glazed pottery was produced as early as in the Western Zhou dynasty (1100-771 B.C.), but production of glazed wares was not common until the Han dynasty.
The Six Dynasties (265-588 A.D.) brought a change in the attitude of figure modeling where efforts were made to make the models look more real. The potters during this period improved the quality of early celadon wares both in glaze color and body clay. The production of glazed photo-porcelain was a significant achievement in Chinese ceramic history. The Tang dynasty (616-906 A.D.) made a major contribution by introducing multi-color wares. The figurines comprised of three main categories, namely, human figures, animals and famous tomb guards.
During the Ming dynasty (1368-1643), dragon and phoenix were the most popular decorative motifs on ceramic wares. Another notable category of wares produced during this period was tri-color. The major three colors were yellow, green and aubergine. The periods of Chia Ching (1522-1566) and Wan Li (1573-1620) saw fully covered wares with colorful patterns. The colors included red, yellow, light and dark green, brown, aubergine and underglaze blue. In K'ang-hsi period (1654-1722), fencai enamel was first used to decorate porcelain wares.
The Ching dynasty period is specially remembered for the production of color glazes. The Yung Cheng potters invented a flame glaze known as Lujun or robin’s eggs produced in two firings. Tea-dust was another glaze successfully produced. Disturbances between two periods, when Ming was taken over by Qing (1639-1700 A.D.) and when Qing was taken over by the Republic of China (1909-1915 A.D.), resulted in the collapse of official kilns. Operators and artists who worked in the official kilns established private kilns and produced high quality porcelain wares. They earned high praise in the overseas markets.
In 1937, the break out of war triggered by the incident at Lo-Kou Bridge closed all the kilns. Most of the operators and artists traveled south to earn a living. When peace came in 1945, the pottery industry re-established. Since then, the industry has gained its ancient glory and enjoyed a growing prosperity. The past twenty years saw the ceramic industry developing at a quick pace.