Chinese Blue & White Porcelain
Direct off a very slow boat from China
Touring the open markets of Northern China from Beijing, Hebei Province, Shanxi Province and through to Tianjin Province has been a valuable experience for us with a new container load of exquisite Ming and Qing Dynasty-inspired porcelain pieces to share with you this week.
As always we’d love to welcome you to view the new arrivals and say ‘Nín hǎo’ at our showroom at 45 Bridge Road Glebe NSW. Come early and we’ll even put the kettle on for a cup of tea while you browse.
It’s no coincidence that porcelain is called china. Authentic Chinese porcelain was first produced in the Han Dynasty (206 BC– 220 AD) and it continued to be an important national art all the way up until the last imperial dynasty — the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912).
It’s actually made from a mix of ingredients such as glass, bone, ash, quartz, alabaster and a clay material called Kaolin which is named after a small village near China’s porcelain capital, Jingdezhen.
Kaolin is actually an interesting material in its own right. It’s used in medicine for diarrhoea relief and relief from ulcers in the mouth and because of its excellent drying properties it’s used in cosmetics including face powders, face masks, creams, lotions for oily skin, bath powders, foundation cake makeup, dry rouges, deodorants and soaps.
The blue colouring used in traditional Chinese porcelain designs is cobalt. Cobalt was used because of its ability to retain its rich deep colour after a double high temperature firing. Other colours were less stable which is why the world ended up with so much blue and white Chinese porcelain.
Most of the porcelain we bring in are copies of Ming and Qing Dynasty pieces and are relatively new. They are primarily vintage hand-me-down pieces (20- 60yrs old), they usually do not have reign marks.
If you are lucky enough to find an authentic Ming or Qing dynasty porcelain piece expect to have to offer all the tea in China and some. A small 4 inch high Ming vase found in a dusty cupboard at a UK University sold for $6.5 million back in 2016 and more recently an 18th-century Chinese vase found in a shoe-box in an attic in France sold for 16.2 million euros ($25.1 million) at auction in Paris!