Decoration of Chinese porcelain

Decoration of Chinese porcelain: enamel blue and red

However Chinese potters advanced underglaze red embellishment during the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368 C.E.), pottery decorated in enamel blue was made in far greater numbers, by reason of the high request from Asia and the Islamic countries of the Near and the Middle and Painting with enamel red was harder than underglaze blue: the copper oxide used as the coloring agent was harder to manage than the cobalt that was used for the underglaze blue. The firing left shares of the red areas grey, as on this large jar (above).
The first ruler of the Ming dynasty, that was to rule China for the next 300 years, was the general Zhu Yuanzhang (reigned 1368-98), whose title was Hongwu. He overthrew the Yuan dynasty, whose rulers had been immigrants (Mongols). He was determined to re-establish the dominance of Chinese type at court, and blue-and-white porcelain was made in designs following Chinese rather than Islamic taste. Related pieces were executed with underglaze red for use by the ruler.
Hongwu forbade foreign trade many times, though this was never fully impressive. The import of cobalt was interrupted, however, which resulted in a drop in the creation of blue-and-white porcelain. For a short period at the end of the fourteenth century, more wares were designed with underglaze red than underglaze blue.

Blue-and-white Chinese porcelain

The earliest blue-and-white ware found to date is shrine vases contained 1351. This presentation a competence which show that the underglaze- art and painting technique was well-established at this time, maybe originating in the second quarter of the fourteenth century. Cobalt blue was sent from Iran, probably in cake form. It was ground into a color, which was drawn and painted directly onto the leather-hard porcelain form. The part was then glazed and fired. "Blue-and-white" porcelain was used in the shrine and occasionally in burials within China, but many of the produces of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) seem to have been exported.
Trade remained an important part of blue-and-white porcelain production in the Ming and Qing dynasties (1644-1911). Europe, Japan, and South-east Asia were basic export bazaars. Vessels, with many marks of decoration, were painted with Chinese motifs, such as dragons, waves, and floral scrolls. The potters of Jingdezhen also made wares to meet the needs of the Middle Eastern bazaar. Large dishes were densely designed with geometric shapes inspired by Islamic metalwork or architectural embellishment.
Blue-and-white Chinese porcelain was especially admired by the Majestic court, and it is exciting to trace the figures and motifs preferred by various rulers, many of whom ordered gigantic quantities of porcelain from the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen.

The blue-and-white sets of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries regularly took their forms from Islamic metalwork.

The globular body, high cylindrical neck and dragon handle of this jug all imitate current metalwork of Timurid Persia. The crowded embellishment of this jug is a specification of early blue-and-white Chinese porcelain that continued into the early part of the Ming dynasty. It is very various to the commonly more subtle feature of Chinese ornament. The themes used in decorating the jug, yet, are still separately Chinese, notably the breaking waves on the neck and floral scroll on the framework.

Overglaze enamels

The word "overglaze enamels" is used to refer to enamel design on the surface of a glaze which has already been fired. Once drawn and painted, the part would be fired a second time, usually at a lower degree.
The first use of enamel glazing is found on the slip-covered wares of northern China. This was a novelty of the Jin dynasty (1115-1234), with registered pieces as early as 1201. These were useful wares, not for imperial use. Under the rulers of the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing (1644-1911) dynasty, the several techniques of overglaze enameling reached their heights at the manufacturing center in Jingdezhen.--

The most high-quality technique is known as doucai ("joined" or "contrasted" colors), first made under the Ming emperor Xuande (1426-35), but more generally related with Chenghua (1465-87). Cobalt was used under the glaze to draw or paint the outlines and areas of blue wash needed in the scheme. The part was then glazed and fired at a very high degree. Overglaze colors were drawn on to fill in the design. The piece was then fired over and over at a lower temperature. The vase above, which dates to the reign of Emperor Yongzheng (C.E. 1723-35), is a very interesting sample of the technical perfection in later doucai products. The main design includes green, yellow and mauve dragon decorations. The dragons are five-clawed, whose use was limited to the ruler. Auspicious Buddhist emblems embellish the shoulder of the pot.

The colors which are new (including pink!)

There were also main developments under the Qing dynasty. Famille rose (pink), jaune (yellow), noire (black) and verte (green) were overglaze enamel-decorated porcelains made from the Kangxi period (1662-1722) and later.

Due to Chinese tradition, butterflies are a positive sign. They carry a wish for long life and were therefore often used to design and decorate birthday gifts or lanterns given while the Autumn Moon Festival: on the 15th day of the 8th month of the stellar calendar (usually around September). The Festival is famous for lighting lanterns of various forms, proportions, and colors, and by gazing at the moon. The bowl above, made at the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen, may have been offered by the ruler to a family member or worthy matter on this situation.
The bowl is designed in Famille rose overglaze enamels. This way was perfected under the Yongzheng emperor (reigned 1723-35) and is considered the last main technological breakthrough at the Jingdezhen kilns. The great novelty was the making of the typical pink enamel from which the wares take their name. The pink color was made by adding a very tiny amount of gold to red pigment. The conclusion color was opaque, as were the other famille rose enamels, and so could be combined to make a wider range of colors that had been possible before.