Chinese Ceramics Gallery (Yuan-Ming Dynasty)

Following the Song dynasty, the Ming dynasty (1271-1368) was also a period in which various ceramics were produced. Jingdezhen ware, in particular, established its leading position in ceramic production in China by accomplishing the technique of underglaze blue. Underglaze blue, or blue-and-white, is a decorative technique in which a motif was painted in cobalt-blue pigment, which was then covered with a transparent glaze and fired. Many of the Yuan blue-and-white porcelain are large in size, their surface covered with motifs leaving very few spaces. The decorations are vivid and powerful, and many were exported to the Near East region. Other decorative techniques include the use of underglaze copper-red instead of cobalt blue and colored glazes such as cobalt-blue glaze or copper-red glaze. These wares, along with porcelain with inscriptions of the name of the advisory panel of the government, are representatives of the Yuan ceramics. Apart from Jingdezhen, Longquan kilns continued to flourish, mass-producing celadon and exporting them overseas.

During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), yuqichang or an official kiln was established and the blue-and-white ware became even more refined. The clay for white porcelain was selected at utmost care, the cobalt blue color was brilliant and motifs were refined, producing wares of eternal elegance. From the Xuande period onwards (1426), reign marks began to appear on imperial wares. In the Chenghua period (1465-1487), blue-and-white reached its zenith, and a number of elaborate works as precious as jewelry were produced. Overglaze enamel work called doucai also developed during this period. In the Jiajing period (1522-1566), blue-and-white began to show its state of decline and was replaced by overglaze polychrome enamel works. Extravagant pieces including wucai and kinrande were produced at both imperial and private kilns. In the Wanli period (1573-1620), a typical Wanli-style ware with overglaze polychrome enamel painting was produced, although imperial kilns of the Ming dynasty was drawn to the end during this period.