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Blue and White Porcelain of Yuan Dynasty

China is the hometown of porcelain. Over the sweep of the porcelain history of China, blue-and-white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368) is recognized as an important and special genre, Every museum and collector in the world would feel proud if its collection includes a piece of blue- and-white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty。


During the Yuan Dynasty, China's porcelain industry made further progress thanks to increasing needs of trade, Blue-and-white porcelain made in kilns of Jingdezhen became mature and popular and sold well in the market. Those made in Jingdezhen are considered best examples of blue-and-white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty. Since few of them are extant, they are extremely valuable today, This type of porcelain primarily falls into three periods: the Yanyou period, the Zhizheng period and the late period of the Yuan Dynasty. Porcelains made in the Zhizheng period are generally recognized as the best. Blue-and-white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty features magnificent and vigorous designs and sophisticated patterns, which are notably different from traditional aesthetics of Han people. And Jingdezhen which invented and produced this 1ype of porcelain evolved into the center of porcelain industry of the world in the Middle Age.

 The tea caddy illustrated shows many of the characteristics of blue and white porcelain produced during the Kangxi period. The translucent body showing through the clear glaze is of great whiteness and the cobalt decoration, applied in many layers, has a fine blue hue. The decoration, a sage in a landscape of lakes and mountains with blazed rocks is typical of the period. The piece would have been fired in a saggar (a lidded ceramic box intended to protect the piece from kiln debris, smoke and cinders during firing) in a reducing atmosphere in a wood-burning egg-shaped kiln, at a temperature approaching 1350°C.
Distinctive blue-and-white porcelain was exported to Japan where it is known as Tenkei blue-and-white ware or ko sometsukei. This ware is thought to have been especially ordered by tea masters for Japanese ceremony.

The Blue and White Porcelain, the treasure among Chinese porcelains, is characterized by refined and white quality, simple but elegant designs, bright colors, and rich pattern decoration. It also boasts artistic charms of Chinese Ink and Wash Painting, with both practical and ornamental functions, and suits both refined and popular tastes. Blue and White Porcelain bears very high value in terms of artistic appreciation, renowned both at home and abroad as "a pearl of the porcelain world".

The artistic value which distinguishes Blue and White Porcelain from other porcelains comes from its blue flowers. Blue flower is one of the earliest porcelain decoration methods with typical Chinese characteristics. The materials of blue flower are rich in natural cobalt mineral, so it is easy to color and the color never fades. Besides, it contains no poisonous elements such as plumbum and arsenic, therefore it has no negative side-effects on the human body.

 Chinese A blue and white porcelain jar of Xuande period
Ming dynasty, Xuande mark and period (1426-1435)
Porcelain painted in underglaze blue; H. 19 in. (48.3 cm)
The porcelains of the Ming dynasty have attained such recognition in the West that “Ming” has become almost generic for anything ceramic fabricated in China before the twentieth century. While, unhappily, many of the pieces called Ming have no possible claim to that attribution, the porcelains that were produced during the period are among the most beautiful and exciting to emerge from China’s kilns. Because the kilns at Jingdezhen and the surrounding area of Jiangxi Province became paramount during the Ming era, overshadowing all other manufacturing centers, our attention focuses primarily on wares from these kilns from this time onward.

Following in the tradition of earlier qingbai porcelains, blue and white wares are glazed using a transparent porcelain glaze. The blue decoration is painted onto the body of the porcelain before glazing, using very finely ground cobalt oxide mixed with water. After the decoration has been applied the pieces are glazed and fired.

It is believed that underglaze blue and white porcelain was first made in the Tang Dynasty. Only three complete pieces of Tang blue and white porcelain are known to exist (in Singapore from Indonesian Belitung shipwreck ), but shards dating to the 8th or 9th century have been unearthed at Yangzhou in the Jiangsu province. It has been suggested that the shards originated from a kiln in the province of Henan. In 1957 excavations at the site of a pagoda in the province Zhejiang uncovered a Northern Song bowl decorated with underglaze blue and further fragments have since been discovered at the same site. In 1970 a small fragment of a blue and white bowl, again dated to the 11th century, was also excavated in the province of Zhejiang.

 Kangxi period, Qing Dynasty
Diameter: 17.7cm

Broad-mouthed form with lip turned outwards over deep belly with ring foot, fine body and sleek glazing with fluid and expressive painting, inner wall with floral patterns, inner lip in undulating line and auspicious cloud border, bowl center with double-circled mountains and seas of the immortals image, outer wall with a story of the eight immortals, each in a unique posture and surrounding the folk deity Shouxing as he rides an immortal crane through the skies, accompanied by Japanese packaging.

The history of Blue and White Porcelain can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty, but those were only very primitive blue and white products at that time. Up to Yuan Dynasty, the manufacturing of Blue and White Porcelain went into maturity. The Ming Dynasty was reputed as the "Golden Age" of the Blue and White Porcelain production. In Qing Dynasty this technique reached unprecedented altitude, especially the porcelains made in the reigns of Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong have clear layers ,the verdant and gorgeous luster, and the sparkling sapphiric blue color.

Since Song and Yuan Dynasties, Jingde Town had become the main producing area of Blue and White Porcelains. After the Northern Song Dynasty Jingde Town has gradually developed into the sintering center of Chinese porcelains, the largest producing base and research center of pottery and porcelain in the world's porcelain market. "Porcelain capital" has almost become the synonym of Jingde Town. It is one of "the Four Famous Towns in China" together with Hankou in Hubei Province, Zhuxian in Henan Province, and Foshan in Guangdong Province.

 A Wucai and Underglaze Blue "Figures" Jar and Cover

Qing Dynasty
Height: 35.5cm

Round mouth and short neck over broad shoulders, ovular belly gradually constricts to unglazed base, with a pearl-capped cover decorated with playful children, neck with ring of peonies, belly with a figural story, shape of full form and glaze in strong tones.

The Blue and White Porcelain of unparalleled elegancy has not only been the rare curios appreciated by the nobility, high officials, scholars and the wealthy, but also has been the "emissary" of cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries. Since the 18th Century, China's Blue and White Porcelain has been introduced to North-East Asia, South-East Asia, Mid-Asia, Europe and West Africa either through the sea or the Silk Road, and has become the art treasure shared and appreciated by the world. As time goes by, the collection value of Blue and White Porcelain is attracting more and more attention.

Blue-and-white porcelain is known for its lively patterns and bright colors. Integration of pluralistic cultures helped  nurture extraordinary masterpieces of blue-and-white porcelain. This exhibition is composed of three sections which aim to showcase the charm of blue-and-white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty in an all-round manner.

Pottery and PorcelainDevelopment of Chinese Porcelain

China Pottery History

Chinese Ceramics earthenware production


Pottery and Porcelain

The Art of Chinese ceramics

China and Chinese culture

China, and calligraphy and painting



Noted CeramicsFour Famous Jingdezhen Porcelains

China Painted Pottery

Black Pottery

White Pottery

China Painted Pottery

Ming Plain Tri-colored Glazed Porcelain

Tang Tri-colored Glazed Pottery

Blue and White Porcelain of Yuan Dynasty

Jingdezhen Travel Guide

Join our Chinese Porcelain tours


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Jiangyang Kiln

Xing Kiln

Cizhou Kiln

Yue Kiln

Yaozhou Kiln

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Shiwan Kiln

Yixing Kiln

Dehua Porcelain

Ru Kiln