Tianqi porcelain refers to Chinese underglaze blue porcelain made in the unofficial kilns of Jingdezhen (景德镇) for a largely Japanese market in the 17th century. The term "Tianqi" (天啓; "tenkei" in Japanese) is a reference to the era name of the reign of the Tianqi Emperor (r. 1621-1628) in the late Ming Dynasty.
Jingdezhen is a prefecture-level city, previously a town, in northeastern Jiangxi province, China, with a total population of 1,554,000 (2007), bordering Anhui to the north. It is known as the "Porcelain Capital" because it has been producing pottery for 1,700 years. The city has a well-documented history that stretches back over 2,000 years.
A Chinese era name is the regnal year, reign period, or regnal title used when traditionally numbering years in an emperor's reign and naming certain Chinese rulers. Some emperors have several era names, one after another, where each beginning of a new era resets the numbering of the year back to year one or yuán (元). The numbering of the year increases on the first day of the Chinese calendar each year. The era name originated as a motto or slogan chosen by an emperor.
The Tianqi Emperor, personal name Zhu Youjiao, was the 16th emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigning between 1620 and 1627. He was the eldest son of the Taichang Emperor and a brother of the Chongzhen Emperor, who succeeded him. "Tianqi", the era name of his reign, means "heavenly opening".
Generally speaking, Tianqi porcelain was one variety of porcelain among various styles of the Jingdezhen unofficial kilns from a time of production breakdown of the official kilns at the death of the Wanli Emperor in 1620 to a time of reorganization in 1683 during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor in the Qing Dynasty. The Tianqi ware, and other associated wares, display a refreshing spontaneity of design that makes them unique in Chinese ceramic history. The influence of the master landscape artist Dong Qichang (董其昌) (1555-1636) can be discerned in the use of a dark and light color contrast.
The Wanli Emperor, personal name Zhu Yijun, was the 14th emperor of the Ming dynasty. "Wanli", the era name of his reign, literally means "ten thousand calendars". He was the third son of the Longqing Emperor. His reign of 48 years (1572-1620) was the longest among all the Ming dynasty emperors and it witnessed the steady decline of the dynasty.
The Kangxi Emperor, personal name Xuanye, was the third emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the second Qing emperor to rule over China proper, from 1661 to 1722.
Dong Qichang, was a Chinese painter, scholar, calligrapher, and art theorist of the later period of the Ming Dynasty.
Designs for this ware are usually landscapes, birds and flowers, animals and human figures. Sizes are usually small to mid-size flatware and bowls. Many examples of the ware were treasured in Japan as part of the tea ceremony culture. Many examples of this ware show an unmistakable Japanese influence and it is thought that they were especially ordered from Japan by period tea masters. This ware is also known in Japan as ko sometsuke (古染付け) or “old blue-and white.” Base inscriptions are usually those from previous reigns in the dynasty with a preference for the Chenghua reign mark.
A tea ceremony is a ritualized form of making tea practiced in Asian culture by the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese and Taiwanese. The tea ceremony, literally translated as "way of tea" in Japanese, "etiquette for tea" or "tea rite" in Korean, and "art of tea" in Chinese, is a cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of tea. The Japanese tea ceremony is better known, and was influenced by the Chinese tea culture during ancient and medieval times, starting in the 9th century when tea was first introduced to Japan from China. The Vietnamese tea ceremony, also influenced by its Chinese counterpart, is only performed during weddings and other religious rituals. One can also refer to the whole set of rituals, tools, gestures, etc. used in such ceremonies as tea culture. All of these tea ceremonies and rituals contain "an adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday life", as well as refinement, an inner spiritual content, humility, restraint and simplicity "as all arts that partake the extraordinary, an artistic artificiality, abstractness, symbolism and formalism" to one degree or another.
Longquan celadon (龍泉青瓷) is a type of green-glazed Chinese ceramic, known in the West as celadon or greenware, produced from about 950 to 1550. The kilns were mostly located in Lishui prefecture in southwestern Zhejiang Province in the south of China, and the north of Fujian Province. Overall a total of some 500 kilns have been discovered, making the Longquan celadon production area one of the largest historical ceramic producing areas in China. "Longquan-type" is increasingly preferred as a term, in recognition of this diversity, or simply "southern celadon", as there was also a large number of kilns in north China producing Yaozhou ware or other Northern Celadon wares. These are similar in many respects, but with significant differences to Longquan-type celadon, and their production rose and declined somewhat earlier.
Pottery and porcelain, is one of the oldest Japanese crafts and art forms, dating back to the Neolithic period. Kilns have produced earthenware, pottery, stoneware, glazed pottery, glazed stoneware, porcelain, and blue-and-white ware. Japan has an exceptionally long and successful history of ceramic production. Earthenwares were created as early as the Jōmon period, giving Japan one of the oldest ceramic traditions in the world. Japan is further distinguished by the unusual esteem that ceramics holds within its artistic tradition, owing to the enduring popularity of the tea ceremony.
Celadon is a term for pottery denoting both wares glazed in the jade green celadon color, also known as greenware and a type of transparent glaze, often with small cracks, that was first used on greenware, but later used on other porcelains. Celadon originated in China, though the term is purely European, and notable kilns such as the Longquan kiln in Zhejiang province are renowned for their celadon glazes. Celadon production later spread to other regions in Asia, such as Japan, Korea and Thailand. Eventually, European potteries produced some pieces, but it was never a major element there. Finer pieces are in porcelain, but both the color and the glaze can be produced in stoneware and earthenware. Most of the earlier Longquan celadon is on the border of stoneware and porcelain, meeting the Chinese but not the European definitions of porcelain.
Imari ware is a Western term for a brightly-coloured style of Arita ware Japanese export porcelain made in the area of Arita, in the former Hizen Province, northwestern Kyūshū. They were exported to Europe in large quantities, especially between the second half of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century.
Chinese export porcelain includes a wide range of Chinese porcelain that was made (almost) exclusively for export to Europe and later to North America between the 16th and the 20th century. Whether wares made for non-Western markets are covered by the term depends on context. Chinese ceramics made mainly for export go back to the Tang dynasty if not earlier, though initially they may not be regarded as porcelain.
Kraak ware or Kraak porcelain is a type of Chinese export porcelain produced mainly from the Wanli reign (1573–1620), but also in the Tianqi (1620-1627) and the Chongzhen (1627-1644). It was among the first Chinese export ware to arrive in Europe in mass quantities, and was frequently featured in Dutch still life paintings of foreign luxuries, as in the one by Jan Davidsz de Heem at right.
"Blue and white pottery" covers a wide range of white pottery and porcelain decorated under the glaze with a blue pigment, generally cobalt oxide. The decoration is commonly applied by hand, originally by brush painting, but nowadays by stencilling or by transfer-printing, though other methods of application have also been used. The cobalt pigment is one of the very few that can withstand the highest firing temperatures that are required, in particular for porcelain, which partly accounts for its long-lasting popularity. Historically, many other colours required overglaze decoration and then a second firing at a lower temperature to fix that.
Swatow ware or Zhangzhou ware is a loose grouping of mainly late Ming dynasty Chinese export porcelain wares initially intended for the Southeast Asian market. The traditional name in the West arose because Swatow, or present-day Shantou, was the South Chinese port in Guangdong province from which the wares were thought to have been shipped. The many kilns were probably located all over the coastal region, but mostly near Zhangzhou, Pinghe County, Fujian, where several were excavated in the mid-1990s, which has clarified matters considerably.
Ding ware, Ting ware or Dingyao were Chinese ceramics, mostly porcelain, produced in the prefecture of Dingzhou in Hebei in northern China. The main kilns were at Jiancicun or Jianci in Quyang County. They were produced between the Tang and Yuan dynasties of imperial China, though their finest period was in the 11th century, under the Northern Song. The kilns "were in almost constant operation from the early eighth until the mid-fourteenth century."
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 is so identified with China that it is still called "china" in everyday English usage.
Kangxi transitional porcelain was manufactured at China’s principle ceramic production area of Jingdezhen until 1683 when the production of “official ware” was resumed.
Tongzhi porcelain is Chinese porcelain from the reign of the Qing dynasty Tongzhi Emperor (1862–1874), which saw the reconstruction of the Jingdezhen official kilns after the Taiping Rebellion of the 1850s completely devastated the cities of Nanjing and Jingdezhen.
Dehua porcelain is a type of white Chinese porcelain, made at Dehua in the Fujian province. A traditional European term for it is Blanc de Chine. It has been produced from the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) to the present day. Large quantities arrived in Europe as Chinese export porcelain in the early 18th century and it was copied at Meissen and elsewhere. It was also exported to Japan in large quantities.
Jingdezhen porcelain is Chinese porcelain produced in or near Jingdezhen in southern China. Jingdezhen may have produced pottery as early as the sixth century CE, though it is named after the reign name of Emperor Zhenzong, in whose reign it became a major kiln site, around 1004. By the 14th century it had become the largest centre of production of Chinese porcelain, which it has remained, increasing its dominance in subsequent centuries. From the Ming period onwards, official kilns in Jingdezhen were controlled by the emperor, making imperial porcelain in large quantity for the court and the emperor to give as gifts.
Qingbai ware is a type of Chinese porcelain produced under the Song Dynasty and Yuan dynasty, defined by the ceramic glaze used. Qingbai ware is white with a blue-greenish tint, and is also referred to as Yingqing. It was made in Jiangxi province in south-eastern China, in several locations including Jingdezhen, and is arguably the first type of porcelain to be produced on a very large scale. However, it was not at the time a prestigious ware, and was mostly used for burial wares and exports, or a middle-rank Chinese market. The quality is very variable, reflecting these different markets; the best pieces can be very thin-walled.
Cizhou ware or Tz'u-chou ware is a term for a wide range of Chinese ceramics from between the late Tang dynasty and the early Ming dynasty, but especially associated with the Northern Song to Yuan period in the 11–14th century. It has been increasingly realized that a very large number of sites in northern China produced these wares, and their decoration is very variable, but most characteristically uses black and white, in a variety of techniques. For this reason Cizhou-type is often preferred as a general term. All are stoneware in Western terms, and "high-fired" or porcelain in Chinese terms. They were less high-status than other types such as celadons and Jun ware, and are regarded as "popular", though many are finely and carefully decorated.
Jian ware or Chien ware is a type of Chinese pottery originally made in Jianyang, Fujian province. It, and local imitations of it, is known in Japan as Tenmoku (天目). The wares are simple shapes in stoneware, with a strong emphasis on subtle effects in the glazes. In the Song dynasty they achieved a high prestige, especially among Buddhist monks and in relation to tea-drinking. They were also highly valued in Japan, where many of the best examples were collected. Though the ceramic body is light-coloured, the wares, generally small cups for tea, bowls and vases, normally are glazed in dark colours, with special effects such as the "hare's fur" "oil-spot" and "partridge feather" patterns caused randomly as excess iron in the glaze is forced out during firing.
Jizhou ware or Chi-chou ware is Chinese pottery from Jiangxi province in southern China; the Jizhou kilns made a number of different types of wares over the five centuries of production. The best known wares are simple shapes in stoneware, with a strong emphasis on subtle effects in the dark glazes, comparable to Jian ware, but often combined with other decorative effects. In the Song dynasty they achieved a high prestige, especially among Buddhist monks and in relation to tea-drinking. The wares often use leaves or paper cutouts to create resist patterns in the glaze, by leaving parts of the body untouched.
Japanese export porcelain includes a wide range of porcelain that was made and decorated in Japan primarily for export to Europe and later to North America, with significant quanties going to south and southeastern Asian markets. Production for export to the West falls almost entirely into two periods, firstly between the 1650s and 1740s, and then the period from the 1850s onwards.
Porcelain trade in Qing China was one of the important trading goods in during the late Ming dynasty and throughout the Qing dynasty. The porcelain that was traded reflected a transition of creative influences that altered the way porcelain looked but its high demand in Europe.