Porcelain originated in China. Although proto-porcelain wares exist dating from the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BCE), by the Eastern Han Dynasty period (196–220) glazed ceramic wares had developed into porcelain. Porcelain manufactured during the Tang Dynasty (618–906) was exported to the Islamic world, where it was highly prized. Early porcelain of this type includes the tri-colour glazed porcelain, or sancai wares. The exact dividing line between proto-porcelain and porcelain wares is not a clear one to date. Porcelain items in the sense that we know them today could be found in the Tang Dynasty, and archaeological finds have pushed the dates back to as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). By the Sui Dynasty (581–618) and Tang Dynasty (618–907), porcelain had become widely produced.
Eventually, porcelain and the expertise required to create it began to spread into other areas of East Asia. During the Song Dynasty (960–1279), artistry and production had reached new heights. The manufacture of porcelain became highly organised and the kiln sites, those excavated from this period, could fire as many as 25,000 wares. By the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), porcelain art was being exported to Europe. Some of the most well-known Chinese porcelain art styles arrived in Europe during this era, such as the coveted blue-and-white wares. The Ming Dynasty controlled much of the porcelain trade, which were further expanded to all over Asia, Africa and Europe through the Silk Road. Later, Portuguese merchants began direct trade over the sea route with the Ming Dynasty in 1517 and were followed by Dutch merchants in 1598.
Five Great Wares of china
The firing techniques were rough in both the bodies and the glazes and the firing temperature was comparatively low, so porcelain of that time is called primitive porcelain for its primitive and transitional nature.
Connoisseurs in the Northern Sung Dynasty (A.D. 960 - 1279), Ming Dynasty (A.D.1368 - 1644) and Ching Dynasty (A.D. 1644 - 1911) have accorded 5 Sung Dynasty wares, the status of "FIVE GREAT WARES OF CHINA".
The following 5 Kilns produced:
"Five Great Wares"
1) Ding Kilns
Ding had the leading kilns with exceptionally fine decoration consisting of imprinted drawn and cut designs. It consists of a fine white body with an orange or reddish translucency. Ding kiln boasted its white porcelain which has a texture as delicate as that of ivory with an adornment of black and purple glaze.
2) Ge Kilns
The glazed texture with many bubbles suspended in successive layers and fully netted with crackles are their major features. While the Ge Kiln produced articles with various grains and produced an amount of artworks greater than those of the other four.
3) Jun Kilns
They are famous for their glazed colours such as red, blue, green and purple together with amazing transformations during firing. According to their appearance, Jun ware falls into four groups, namely green, lavender-blue, lavender-blue with purple splashes and purple-and-blue streaked. Since the reign of Emperor Huizong who liked art appreciation, porcelain of Jun kiln was kept exclusively for the royal family and common people had no right to collect it no matter how much money they possessed.
4) Guan kilns
Guan ware is also known as "Official" ware. The glaze and the fineness are the major features of Kuan wares. The kilns advocated concise patterns of decoration
5) Ru Kilns
The Ru kilns produced porcelain with a thick unctuous glaze which resembles the most expensive type of jade in China known as "Mutton fat". Ru kiln in Hebei Province added treasured agate into glaze so that the color and texture appeared to be uniquely daintily creamy and could be compared with jade.Due to the limited production in that period, there are only 30 pieces in private and public ownership today.
Jingdezhen, formerly known as the "Porcelain Capital" of China, is one of China's most famous cultural and historic cities. It is situated in the northeast part of Jiangxi Province of East China. The best porcelain of the world is in China, and China's best is in Jingdezhen. If you are interested in Chinese porcelain, a tour package to Jingdezhen, Jingxi is a good choice!