Pottery(mostly earthenware and stoneware) was produced there in the first century AD. In’ the seventh century A.D. under the Tang, porcelain was developed from fine white clay, known as Gao Ling Tu (Kaolin), or “earth from the high hill.” By firing this clay at a higher than normal temperature, the craftsmen were able to make objects that were translucent, hard, and white. The nature of the substance produced gave rise fo the Chinese word for porcelain which is “ci” (pronounced something like “tzu”), meaning “an object that makes a high note when strack.” Incidentally, the English word for porcelain comes from the Portuguese “pourcellana,” meaning cowrie shells. Early Portuguese traders thought there was a distinct resemblance between the two.
The use of porcelain in China spread rapidly under the Tang Porcelain ware was esthetically pleasing, and metal vessels were becoming scarce because copper was in short supply. At the same time, the Chinese demand for drinking vessels increased substantially due to the fast-spreading popularity of tea.
The clay sculpture prodded under the Tang has remarkable beauty. Figures of people and animals, decorated with brilliant colors and preserved with translucent glazes, are now recognized round the world!
The Song Dynasty porcelains (960-1280) are equally famous, and future innovations in designs, clays and glazer Celadon ware, also developed during this period, fulfilled the dream of every Chinese Potter:to create a substance that resembled jade.
The Ming period (1368 1644) also saw the production of magnifi- cent porcelains, especial]y the famous “blue and whites.” These were first developed in Jingdezhen, using cobalt blue underglazes from Persia. The Ming porcelains reached a peak of perfection during the Zuan De period (142~1435), but excellent pieces were also made throughout the entire Ming era.
Under the Qing, the traditions of the previous dynasty were at first maintained by craftsmen, but later the court began to encourage extravagant mid exaggerated decoration; large quantities of porcelain were produced for the West, and much of it featured discordant colors and excessive decoration The styles that were retained by co cc ors within China were usually far mote subdued. As the interest in porcelain ware developed over the centuries in China, production was expanded, and other centers for porcelain were developed. However, Jingdezhen remained nod still remains the most important porcelain center. In the eighteenth century, the town had a population of more than a million and possessed over 500 pottery kilns Today, there are 20 porcelain factories with a collective production level of about 350 million pieces annually almost half of China’s total yearly production.