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Photographer: Toni Hafkenscheid;

Chinese and Japanese Ceramics

China and Japan have been mastering the art of making various forms of earthenware since neolithic times. However, one of the most significant and far-reaching inventions in ceramic history was the discovery of porcelain in China during the Tang dynasty (618-907). Chinese porcelain is composed of two materials: kaolin (a fine white china clay) and petuntse (pulverised feldspathic rock, also known as china stone). When fired at temperatures in excess of 1250º C. the body and the glaze fuse together and the porcelain becomes vitrified. Porcelain is characterised by being white, transluscent, impermeable, and is resistant to thermal shock.

China dominated the production of porcelain and its trade for thousands of years. However, the methods of its manufacture spread elsewhere in Asia, notably to Korea and Japan. Porcelain was also traded to Asia, where it influenced the development of tin-glazed earthenware in present-day Iraq in the ninth century. Eventually tin-glaze technology spread throughout the Islamic world and most of Europe, and its decoration was often inspired by imported Chinese porcelain. Influenced by both Chinese and Japanese wares, porcelain was made commercially in Europe from the late seventeenth century. The designs and forms of Chinese and Japanese ceramics continue to reverberate throughout the world today.

Chinese and Japanese Ceramic Collections:
Chinese Blue and White Porcelain
Other Chinese Ceramics
Japanese Porcelain and Its Influence