China and Chinese culture
The charm of Chinese ceramics culture not only lies in its wide range of expressions on social life, nature, culture, customs, philosophy, and various notions, but also in the way of its expression, which is a demonstration of Chinese culture from many angles.
As part of Chinese culture, the history of Chinese ceramics culture is a vivid and vital part of the nation’s cultural history.
The pottery in the Neolithic (8,000-2,000BC in China) period records the survival will of the ancient people. Pigs, dogs, and cows made of clay signified people’s fierce struggle with the environment at the time, from which we can also find the traces of the development and involvement of civilization. Each piece of work vividly revealed a scene of people interacting with the environment.
The terra-cotta warriors and horses in Xi’an of Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province reflect the people’s philosophy at that time, and vividly record the history in a unique way.
The courageous, strict, and serious generals; the cavaliers awaiting their orders; the infantry wearing their armors and holding their weapons; the archers holding their bows and looking straight at the enemies; as well as the brave horses all constituted a magnificent force, emitting a sense of masculinity, bravery, and power.
Gazing at the spectacular pottery troops of more than two thousand years ago, modern visitors are brought back to wars and flames at the end of the Warring States Period (475-221BC), and are much impressed by the invincible Qin troop that virtually made a clean sweep of their enemies, even if the troop is just made of pottery.
By the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), the social economy had recovered from the wounds of long-time wars, and the society had also experienced substantial developments in many aspects, which also contributed to cultural characteristics different from those of the Qin Dynasty (221-207BC). The content and artistic styles of the pottery works were also in turn different from that of the Qin Dynasty.
Whether the pottery works featured humans or animals, the emphasis of the works was no longer as realistic as in the Qin Dynasty. Instead of attaching great importance to lifelikeness and details, the pottery and porcelain works during the Han Dynasty paid more attention to grasping the spiritual content of the works, and emphasized the use of gestures and facial expressions. The bold, unconstrained, flowing, and flexible style also echoed the aesthetic taste of the Han Dynasty.
The “Tang Tri-color pottery,” with its excited, high-spirited, magnificent, and intense-colored style, resembled the time spirit of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when China was the leading and most open civilization in the world.
The pretty and handsome ceramics of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) embodied the aesthetic standards and philosophical notions of the time.
The multicolored, soft, delicate, and exquisite porcelains of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) were the results of changing social lives and aesthetic notions.
Since the implementation of the Reform and Open-up policy by the People’s Republic of China (1949-) in 1978, the bold and unrestrained style of the pottery and porcelain works have reflected the changes in the politics, notions, and lives of the society.
Chinese Porcelain – China’s Gift to the World
Porcelain, they say, is China’s ‘gif’ to the world. Hailed as one of the must-haves in many households, porcelain has found its way into many countries across the globe. And if one was to traverse back on the porcelain path, one would head straight into the heart of China.
It was in China that porcelain was first discovered. It was way back during the Shang Dynasty between 16th – 11th century B.C. It was then mostly used for daily household items such as bowls and cups. As years rolled on, the porcelain gained in importance and beauty. And by the time the Han Dynasty came to power, there were significant advances in the porcelain industry. Now, the items were fancier and the people used mostly Celadon and Black porcelain. With every new dynasty at the helm, the craftsmanship only became better. With the passage of time, techniques improved and kilns became better equipped resulting in some of the finest porcelain being produced in China. It was also then that porcelain came to be known as Fine China in the rest of the world.
Chinese porcelain can be traced to mainly six provinces in China: Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Hebei and Shandong. While each province boasts of its unique styles, they all follow the common techniques of base forming, decoration, glazing and firing.
The impact of Chinese porcelain to Europe
According to foreign archival material relating to the statistics: From the Dutch East India Company to establish thirty-four years into the reign of Emperor Kangxi period (1602-1695), the trafficking of Chinese porcelain to Europe reached 20 million, mainly during the Ming and Qing blue and white, colorful and well – color porcelain; Another statistics, from the Qing Ming Wanli Sanshiernian Junji thirteen years (1604-1656 years) porcelain sold in the Netherlands up to 3 million, an average of about 60000. Yongzheng twelve years (1734 years) a year sold in the Netherlands, porcelain, up to 40 million. British East India Company, French East India Company, were also purchased porcelain from China; Yongzheng twelve years (1734) 68000 marketing porcelain, Qianlong white terror (1774) shipped to the UK in the porcelain of about 40 million pieces, Qianlong 15 to forty-six years (1750-1781 years) distribution in Sweden porcelain reached 1.1 million. From the archaeological survey, the salvage 16 to 17-century Europe and the Far East, the waters between the wreck of the work has been quite the results. Salvage of the wreck is now a Dutch East India Company merchant Geldermals number, which sinks in 1752 (Qianlong seventeen years), on board cargo accounted for 90% of the blue and white porcelain. Portuguese merchant The san Jago, and The Santa Catharina number, on board for the Wanli period blue and white porcelain, 1613 (Wanli Sishiyinian) shipwreck Witte Leeuw number, mostly for the Wanli period blue and white porcelain; 1615 (Wanli 4 Thirteen years) No. Banda shipwreck, but also for the Wanli period blue and white porcelain. 1602,1603 years (Wanli 30, thirty-one years) is also a Portuguese ship salvage the Wanli period blue and white porcelain. Spain’s Concepcion Road wreck Sao Concalo and sank in 1630,1640, respectively, the board late Ming blue and white export porcelain.
From museums and private collections in Europe a large number of Chinese Ming and Qing Dynasty porcelain is obvious that high number of export porcelain. From the above statistics show that there are blue and white porcelain exported to Europe, colorful, wide color variety, with blue and white porcelain as the more common blue and white porcelain Ming Wanli period, Europe known as “Clark ware.” There is the type of late Ming and early Qing Qing vases, goblets, pots, military holding, box, Directors pot, milk cup, soup pots, tick to disk and so on. Some objects of the shape and decoration is a traditional Chinese style, and some shapes, such as milk cups, tick must plates, soup bowls is a popular European style. Local emerging tulip decoration patterns, coat of arms of Western people in Europe are clearly set burning.