Porcelain is an important invention of ancient China. Although not as famous as the four great inventions of ancient China (gunpowder, compass, paper and printing), porcelain was one of the main exports of ancient Chinese people. Many tourists from western world are curious about the history of porcelain and want to know about where to see porcelain and buy some pieces of porcelain art works as souvenir for family and friends.
Chinese porcelain was first created during the Shang Dynasty (17 – 11 centuries BC). The earliest piece of porcelain was found in a Shang Dynasty ruins where situates close to Zhengzhou, capital city of central China’s Henan Province. Black porcelain came into being during the East Han Dynasty and gradually became the mainstream of earliest porcelains. Since the Sui and Tang Dynasties Chinese porcelain can be divided into two types: black porcelain and white porcelain.
Chinese porcelain was highly reputed in the West and Islamic World even after the Europeans found out how to make it in the 1700s. Chinese porcelain features exotic design, bright and beautiful colors, and good quality. Porcelain produced in China is also known as durable and hardly fade in color. What’s more, compare to porcelain produced in western world, Chinese porcelain are much cheaper.
There are different grades of porcelain. The higher class of porcelain has to be calcined and glazed for longer time. The best Chinese porcelain was valued in the West for its durability, thinness, and colorful artwork. In contrast, low quality porcelain are generally thicker, had stilt marks or tiny bubbles on the underside of the pieces.
There is a large number of high quality porcelain produced during Han Dynasty (202 BC- 220 AD) when the society is rich and prosperous. And for some pieces which are unearthed in the modern society, they still have bright colors and translucency ornament. Also some Chinese families keep high quality porcelain as heirlooms. Amazingly, the value keeps increasing over time.
Nowadays, you can visit the ancient porcelain factories in some Chinese cities, for instance Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province, Zibo in Shandong Province, Longquan in Guangdong Province, Yixing in Jiangsu Province, and so on. You can also find porcelain museums in some big Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, there you could have a detailed knowledge of Chinese porcelain and enjoy some exquisite pieces of ancient porcelain artworks.