Tongzhi porcelain

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Imperial Presentation Vase, Tongzhi Mark and Period, Nantoyoso Collection, Japan Tongzhi ceramic - Imperial Presentation Vase .JPG
Imperial Presentation Vase, Tongzhi Mark and Period, Nantoyōsō Collection, Japan

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.

Qing dynasty former empire in Eastern Asia, last imperial regime of China

The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing, was the last imperial dynasty of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912. It was preceded by the Ming dynasty and succeeded by the Republic of China. The Qing multi-cultural empire lasted for almost three centuries and formed the territorial base for modern China. It was the fifth largest empire in world history. The dynasty was founded by the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan in Manchuria. In the late sixteenth century, Nurhaci, originally a Ming Jianzhou Guard vassal, began organizing "Banners", military-social units that included Manchu, Han, and Mongol elements. Nurhaci formed the Manchu clans into a unified entity. By 1636, his son Hong Taiji began driving Ming forces out of the Liaodong Peninsula and declared a new dynasty, the Qing.

Tongzhi Emperor emperor of the Qing Dynasty

The Tongzhi Emperor, born Zaichun of the Aisin Gioro clan, was the ninth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the eighth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. His reign, from 1861 to 1875, which effectively lasted through his adolescence, was largely overshadowed by the rule of his mother, Empress Dowager Cixi. Although he had little influence over state affairs, the events of his reign gave rise to what historians call the "Tongzhi Restoration", an unsuccessful attempt to stabilise and modernise China.

Taiping Rebellion Rebellion in Qing dynasty China

The Taiping Rebellion, also known as the Taiping Civil War or the Taiping Revolution, was a massive rebellion or total civil war in China that was waged from 1850 to 1864 between the established Manchu-led Qing dynasty and the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom under Hong Xiuquan.

Already by 1853, Nanjing had fallen and was made the capital by the rebel forces. Eventually, Zeng Guofan led Qing imperial forces to defeat the rebels and restore Qing rule in Nanjing. The period was one of continued unrest. In 1856, the British attacked Guangzhou, Guangdong. They invaded the capital Beijing, looting and burning the Old Summer Palace. It was against this background of these events, and others, that the Tongzhi Emperor took to the throne and palace functions were partially restored. The official palace ceramic wares of this period are thought to reflect this general historical unrest and decline. The Jingdezhen area itself was liberated by Li Hongzhang in 1864.

Zeng Guofan Chinese politician

Zeng Guofan, Marquis Yiyong, birth name Zeng Zicheng, courtesy name Bohan, was a Chinese statesman, military general, and Confucian scholar of the late Qing dynasty. He is best known for raising and organizing the Xiang Army to aid the Qing military in suppressing the Taiping Rebellion and restoring the stability of the Qing Empire. Along with other prominent figures such as Zuo Zongtang and Li Hongzhang of his time, Zeng set the scene for the Tongzhi Restoration, an attempt to arrest the decline of the Qing dynasty. Zeng was known for his strategic perception, administrative skill and noble personality on Confucianist practice, but also for the ruthlessness of his repression of rebellions. He exemplified loyalty in an era of chaos, but is also regarded as laying the foundation to the rise of modern warlordism in China. William T. Rowe describes him as the "de facto representative of Qing control in most of central and south China" during the 1850's and 60's.

Guangzhou Prefecture-level and Sub-provincial city in Guangdong, Peoples Republic of China

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is the capital and most populous city of the province of Guangdong in southern China. On the Pearl River about 120 km (75 mi) north-northwest of Hong Kong and 145 km (90 mi) north of Macau, Guangzhou has a history of over 2,200 years and was a major terminus of the maritime Silk Road, and continues to serve as a major port and transportation hub, as well as one of China's three largest cities.

Guangdong Most populous province of the Peoples Republic of China

Guangdong is a province in South China, on the South China Sea coast. Guangdong surpassed Henan and Shandong to become the most populous province in China in January 2005, registering 79.1 million permanent residents and 31 million migrants who lived in the province for at least six months of the year; the total population was 104,303,132 in the 2010 census, accounting for 7.79 percent of Mainland China's population. This also makes it the most populous first-level administrative subdivision of any country outside of South Asia, as its population is surpassed only by those of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the Indian states of Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. The provincial capital Guangzhou and economic hub Shenzhen are among the most populous and important cities in China. The population increase since the census has been modest, the province registering 108,500,000 people in 2015.

The new imperial kilns were to be under the directorship of the official Cai Jinching. After completion a list of ceramic wares was forwarded to the Tongzhi Emperor and is preserved in the area gazetteer Jiangxi tongzhi (江西通志) for 1864. The 55 types of wares listed consisted of round wares (yuanqi) and vases (zhuoqi), but no quantities are given. [1] The ceramics of this period are similar to those of the previous Daoguang period (1821–1850), but of slightly higher quality, perhaps because the court now took more interest than under the three previous emperors. [2] Many of the artisans of the early 19th century must have continued in their profession with the restoration of the kilns. Some scholars believe the wares on the 1864 list were produced at commercial kilns in Jingdezhen, rather than rebuilt official ones. [3]

Daoguang Emperor Qing-dynasty Chinese emperor

The Daoguang Emperor was the seventh emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty and the sixth Qing emperor to rule over China proper, from 1820 to 1850. His reign was marked by "external disaster and internal rebellion," that is, by the First Opium War, and the beginning of the Taiping Rebellion which nearly brought down the dynasty. The historian Jonathan Spence characterizes the Daoguang Emperor as a "well meaning but ineffective man," who promoted officials who "presented a purist view even if they had nothing to say about the domestic and foreign problems surrounding the dynasty."

Jingdezhen Prefecture-level city in Jiangxi, Peoples Republic of China

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.

Eight Triagrams Quadrangular Vase, Tongzhi Mark and Period, Nantoyoso Collection, Japan Chinese Tongzhi ceramic.jpg
Eight Triagrams Quadrangular Vase, Tongzhi Mark and Period, Nantoyōsō Collection, Japan

Two ceramic artists associated with later productions of Qianjiang ware or porcelain decorated in sepia and pale umber pigments, Wang Shaowei and Jin Pinqing, are said to have been employed in the Tongzhi era as decorators at Jingdezhen. Certainly there was a quantitative disparity. The extant list of Tongzhi ceramics include such items as quadrangular vases with the Eight Triagrams and other items. Extant under glaze blue vases are renditions of classic shapes and patterns continuously celebrated from the 18th century.


  1. Vainker, 212
  2. Vainker, 211-212
  3. Valenstein, 262

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