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Ming Porcelain - Ancient History Encyclopedia
Chinese ceramics show a continuous development since pre-dynastic times and are one of the most significant forms of Chinese art and ceramics globally. The first pottery was made during the Palaeolithic era. 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. Most later Chinese ceramics, even of the finest quality, were made on an industrial scale, thus few names of individual potters were recorded. Many of the most important kiln workshops were owned by or reserved for the Emperor, and large quantities of Chinese export porcelain were exported as diplomatic gifts or for trade from an early date, initially to East Asia and the Islamic world, and then from around the 16th century to Europe.
Blue and white pottery
The porcelain of the Ming Dynasty of China CE benefitted, as did other arts, from the economic success of the 15th century CE, in particular, and the consequent surge in demand for quality handcraft production both at home and abroad. The Ming dynasty is rightly famous for its fine ceramics and especially the cobalt blue-and-white porcelain produced in such towns as Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province. Still highly prized by collectors today, Ming porcelain would have a major influence on the ceramics of many other countries from Japan to Britain. Porcelain is only one of many different types of pottery but it is usually valued more than others because of the smoothness of its surface, its pure whiteness, and its translucent quality.
Chinese ceramics have been copied for hundreds of years by Chinese potters, out of a reverence for an earlier period, but also to fool buyers — so buyer beware. There is no quicker way to learn about pieces than to handle as many as possible. Take advantage of the large numbers of Chinese ceramics offered around the world at reputable auction houses. In many ways, auction houses are better than museums because you can handle the pieces. This gives an understanding of what a ceramic should feel like in the hand, the weight of the piece and the quality of the painting.