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Chinese Ceramics


12 Thanks

11 Modern Ceramics

10 Video

09 Five-colored Wares and Painted-enamel

08 Blue and White Porcelain

07 Celadon

06 Tang Tri-Color Glazed Ceramics

05 Timeline

04 History

03 Apply to Life

02 Pottery and Porcelain

01 Introduction

The earliest history of Chinese ceramics can be traced back to the Neolithic Age, and has undergone thousands of years of technological innovation, resulting in the development of a wide variety of ceramic techniques, including Tang Tri-Color Glazed Ceramics (Tang Sancai, 唐三彩), white porcelain (白瓷), celadon (青瓷), blue and white porcelain (青花瓷), and five-colored ceramics (五彩).

Chinese ceramics show a continuous development since pre-dynastic times and are one of the most significant forms of Chinese art and ceramics globally. Chinese ceramics range from construction materials such as bricks and tiles, to hand-built pottery vessels fired in bonfires or kilns, to the sophisticated Chinese porcelain wares made for the imperial court and for export. Porcelain was a Chinese invention and is so identified with China that it is still called "china" in everyday English usage.

What is Chinese Ceramics?

  • examples of porcelain
  • examples of pottery

Ceramics, in a Western definition, is "a collective term comprising all ceramic ware that is white and translucent, no matter what ingredients are used to make it or to what use it is put. The Chinese tradition recognizes two primary categories of ceramics: low-temperature-fired pottery or táo (陶, about 950–1200 ℃) and high-temperature-fired porcelain or cí (瓷, about 1250–1400 ℃). Pottery and porcelain have different textures and properties. Pottery (Tao), is mainly made of clay with high viscosity and plasticity as the main raw material, which is opaque, has fine pores, and weak water absorption, knocking sound dull. Porcelain (Ci), is made of clay, feldspar, and quartz, which is semi transparent, non absorbent, and corrosion-resistant, hard, and knocking sound brittle.

Pottery and Porcelain


Ware types

Bowl - Tea bowl, rice bowl, etc.Plate - A large dish. Small dishes are also known as "saucers". Vase - A pot-shaped vessel with a small or elongated mouth. There are various shapes such as plum vase, jade pot spring, ladybird vase and so on. Jug - A container with a spout and handle. Basin - Includes deeper containers such as washpots and flower pots.





The emergence and development of ceramics, in fact, is closely linked with people's life and production practices. From the early Neolithic period when the most primitive pottery was fired, to the invention and widespread application of porcelain, technology and art were constantly advancing; In the process of adapting to people's survival and living needs, the types of fired ceramic utensils are increasing, the styles are changing, and the internal quality is constantly improving.

Apply to Life

During the Neolithic Age, China already had rough and simple style painted pottery and black pottery. By the Shang Dynasty (16th to 11th century BC), glazed pottery and hard glazed pottery with porcelain properties had already appeared. By the Wei and Jin dynasties (220-420 AD), China had already accomplished the major invention of firing porcelain with a high degree of heat to produce a solid texture. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.), the production technology and artistic creation of ceramics reached a high level. Exported to Japan, India, Persia and Egypt, played an important role in international cultural exchanges, and won the name of "porcelain country". During the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911 AD), ceramics surpassed the previous generation in terms of technology, from making billets, decoration, glaze application, to firing. From the development history of ancient Chinese ceramics, ceramic culture can be seen in the era of characteristics: such as the Qin and Han's bold, the Sui and Tang majestic, the Song dynasty Confucian, Ming and Qing dynasties of the exquisite, all in their respective historical stages, flashing its own era of the flame of light.


Click on the name of the dynasty to see more examples of images


Chinese porcelain during the Qing Dynasty reached its peak. Various colors and overglaze colors are exceptionally rich, and new varieties such as Famille rose and enamel colors have also emerged. The Qing Dynasty ceramics were famous for their "delicate and beautiful, and exquisite and exquisite craftsmanship".

Qing Dynasty

Ming Dynasty ceramics have achieved comprehensive development, with a complete range of ceramic varieties, rich and colorful, and unique styles. Ming Dynasty ceramics are famous for their style of "thick, dignified, rich in decorative beauty, fun, and beauty".

Ming Dynasty

The Song Dynasty was an era of vigorous development in the porcelain industry. Famous porcelain wares were named after the locations at which they were produced. Porcelain of this period featured plain but elegant glazes as well as simple and archaic forms. Many of the decorative patterns were inspired by daily life and nature.

Song Dynasty

By the Tang Dynasty, porcelain production had transformed to a mature stage and entered the true era of porcelain. Tang Dynasty ceramics are famous for their artistic style of "broad and fresh, rich and powerful, magnificent and plump".

Tang Dynasty

At that time, pottery was a variety of living utensils for the general public. It can be roughly divided into daily necessities, architecture, sacrificial vessels, and sacrificial vessels. Glazed hard pottery had already appeared during this period, with greenish and brownish yellow color glaze, and a relatively hard matrix with a grayish white color.

Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties

Colored pottery from the Neolithic period had a well-designed shape, dense body, fine and unrestrained decoration, beautiful patterns, diverse forms, unique artistic style, practicality, and strong cultural atmosphere.

Neolithic Period

Tang Sancai is a great representative of Tang Dynasty ceramics, named after the most common yellow, green and white glazes which were applied to the earthenware body, although other colors, such as blue, brown, purple, etc., were also used. They were made not only in such traditional forms as bowls and vases, but also in the more exotic guises of camels and Central Asian travelers, testifying to the cultural influence of the Silk Road.

Tang Tri-Color Glazed Ceramics

Qingci (青瓷) is a kind of sturdy, durable, antique and elegant porcelain, known in the West as celadon. It took about 1000 years from the emergence of primitive celadon to the emergence of mature celadon in the Eastern Han Dynasty. These have a subtle bluish-green glaze and are characterized by their simple and elegant shapes. They were so popular that production continued at various kiln centers throughout China well into the succeeding dynasties, and were shipped to Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, and as far as Egypt.


Blue and white (qinghua, 青花) porcelain was first mass produced under the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368). Baked at a high temperature, porcelain is characterized by the purity of its kaolin clay body. Potters of the subsequent Ming dynasty (1368–1644) perfected these blue and white wares so that they soon came to represent the virtuosity of the Chinese potter. Jingdezhen (景德鎮), in Jiangxi Province, became the center of a porcelain industry that not only produced vast quantities of imperial wares, but also exported products as far afield as Turkey. While styles of decorative motif and vessel shape changed with the ascension to the throne of each new Ming emperor, the quality of Ming blue and whites are indisputably superior to that of any other time period.

Blue and White Porcelain

Before the Ming Dynasty, porcelain was mainly celadon, while after the Ming Dynasty, it was mainly white porcelain. During the late Ming to early Qing dynasty (1644–1911), porcelain was enriched with the innovation of five-colored (五彩) wares. Applying a variety of over-glaze pigments to decorative schemes of flower, landscape and figurative scenes, these wares have gained great fame in the West. In the eighteenth century, borrowing from techniques in the decoration of metalware, enamel was painted on porcelain to create vivid colors and stunning patterns, known as painted-enamel or yangcai (洋彩).

Five-colored Wares and Painted-enamel

A Guide to the Symbolism of Chinese Ceramic Decoration

In the production of modern ceramic art, surface decoration and spatial treatment have also reached a higher level. Modern ceramic art focuses on texture and performance, not to pay attention to whether it is rough or fine raw materials. The use of materials is no longer limited to ceramic mud and clay, but intentionally breaks through the range of traditional ceramic raw materials, utilizing the different characteristics of clay to unleash the potential beauty of various materials.

Modern Ceramics

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