China, Japan, Korea
Ceramic History
Neolithic China
• Settlements developed along the two main
river systems.
• In the North, the Yellow River
• In the South, the Yangzi River
– North, wheat, corn, soybeans
– South, rice
– Pottery first coiled perhaps 18,000 BCE. Potter’s
wheel introduced 3000 BCE
Shang Dynasty – Bronze Age China
1800-1100 BCE
The Emperors Army
Emperor Ch’in Shih-huang-ti
Qin Dynasty 221-206 BCE
Army of Emperor Shi Huangdi
Shaanxi Province, China
210 B.C.E.
painted terracotta
The Han Dynasty 206 – 0 BCE
Development of the Silk Road, Expansion and Trade
Development of early porcelain object for trade.
Press Molds continued to be used to create large ceramic pieces
for tombs. Horse and chariot from Han Dynasty.
Hunping (Soul Vases), Han through Six Dynasty Period
Sculptural compositions on the lid of the pot.
Note the row of Buddhas, this is one of the first representations
of Buddha in China. Buddhism arrived in the Han Dynasty.
Most of what we know about early Asian architecture is derived from
clay models such as this Han Dynasty house that was placed in a tomb.
Figurines of court attendants, like these jesting
entertainers, were placed in the tombs of nobility.
Wu Ti´s reign (141-87 B.C.) was a period of great military expansion during the Han
Dynasty. He expanded China’s borders into Vietnam and Korea and pushed north and
west. Wu Ti transplanted an estimated 2 million people to the northwestern region in
order to colonize these areas. One of the great prizes of northern expansion was the
discovery of “Celestial Horses” – large, strong bodied horses that were imported into
central and southern China. The horse is one of the most common motifs in Chinese
art of this period.
After the Han, Chinese history enters into a period of competing
kingdoms and dynasties that lasts until the Tang Dynasty is
established in 618. Trade along the Silk Road continues and the
horse continues to be venerated. Brick, Sui Dynasty, 265-589 CE
Silk Road Tader, Northern Wei Dynasty. Approx. 386-584 CE
Northern Wei Court Figurines, 386-584
Chinese art often depicts fantastic, spiritual animals. They too
appear as figurines.
Tang Dynasty 618-906
The Tang was a period of political stability,
wealth, expanding trade and cultural
flowering. Ceramic figurines depicted
trade animals, foreigners and court life.
Tang Dynasty 618-906
The Tang was a period
of political stability,
wealth, expanding trade
and cultural flowering.
Ceramic figurines
depicted trade animals,
foreigners and court
Tang Sancai or Tri-Color
Mineral oxides were
added to a lead based
low-fire glaze to achieve
the characteristic yellow,
brown and green Tang
Glazes. The clay was a
low fire red clay.
Throughout the early
and middle Tang they
were a primary export.
8th to 9th century C.E.
20 in. high
glazed earthenware
The Tang Dynasty also saw the beginning of the porcelain export
trade in China. By the end of the Tang, porcelain had replaced
earthenware as the primary clay of export. Phoenix Vase, British
Museum, Late Tang Dynasty.
Yaozhou Ware describes the carved pottery produced by a kiln
complex in central China from the late Tang Dynasty, through the Song,
to the Yuan Dynasty. Stoneware clay. High Fire.
A master dish would have been carved and fired, from which a convex ‘hump-mould’
was taken. This mould then acted as the template for multiple dishes to be formed.
The glaze was then applied, pooling in the crevices and laying thinly on raised areas.
Through firing, the pooled areas grew darker in colour and the thinly glazed areas
more transparent, thus creating illusion of light and shadows in the surface design.
Robert Jacobson on the mold making procedure for Tang and
then Five Dynasties ceramics. Jacobson is the curator of Asian Art at
the Minneapolis Institue of Art.
Yeah, basically the way this goes—keep in
mind if you will a kind of ceramic mound that's
been carved; this very floral design has been
carved around that. This is hard—it's fired.
What the Chinese potters would do is simply
take the clay, push it down until it covered the
entire mound, and then pare it down on the
wheel to the thinness that we see here. They
allowed it to dry a bit, and then simply popped
it off and would have had this design worked
into it.
Five Dynasties (907-960) porcelain with
impressed design
Song Dynasty Ceramics
Elegant Court Porcelain, Expressionistic Glazes and Gestural “Village
• Northern Celadon - porcelain clay and celadon glaze.
In the Song Dynasty there were five famous kilns: Ru Kiln, Imperial Kiln, Jun Kiln, Ge Kilin and Ding
Kiln. This crackle glaze is typical of Ge Ware. Guan ware, pictured in your book, is another prized
type of crackle ware. These works contrast the simple, refined form of the vase with the
spontaneity of the cracks which vary with each piece.
Northern Celadon
Jun Ware
• It can be identified visually by its
coarse stoneware body and its
thickly applied glaze, which
through firing gained an
opalescent blue colour. At the
edges the glaze ran thin,
becoming semi-transparent and
creating the simple and elegant
colouring of this piece. While
some Jun wares use only the blue
glaze, it was also common to
apply copper brushwork to dry
glazes in broad strokes or washes,
which then merged with the
bluish Jun glazes at full heat. This
resulted in the bold splashes of
purple-red visible in this bowl.
Expressionistic “Oil Spot” glaze on
stoneware clay.
Cizhou Ware
• This pillow is an example of
Cizhou ware, a type of ceramic
made in the northern part of
China during the Jin dynasty
(1115-1234). The term Cizhou
encapsulates a range of wares
made in several regions of
northern China, often
consisting of a stoneware body
decorated with a bold
design.Ceramic pillows were
an important item in the kilns
producing Cizhou wares, and
were made for both funerary
use and as a neck support for
the living.
Cizhou ware pillow, white clay slip over stoneware with
iron decoration.
Meiping vase
960-1127 C.E.
Stoneware, Cizhou type with
sgraffito decoration
Chizou type vase with sgraffito
Visit this Chizou pillow at the Walters
After the Song Dynasty comes the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) which is notable
in Chinese history as a time of Mongol rule. In ceramics, porcelain
development continued with a focus on the development of blue and white
ware. During the Yuan (and then the Ming Dynasty) the imperial kilns were at
Jingdezen, still a center of porcelain production
Modeling and press molding continued to play a role in ceramic
production. These Yuan pieces are incense burners.
The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) saw the return of Chinese ethic rule. It
also saw the ramping up of porcelain production, particularly to
In addition to achieving a great mastery of blue and white (cobalt on
porcelain) ware, the Ming Dynasty also developed ware that combined high
fired porcelain glazing with a second, low-fire, enamel painting. The
technique of firing enamels onto glazed pottery had begun in the Middle East.
Qing Dynasty 1644-1911. Noted for the development of new
enameling processes and an emphasis on color and ornament.
The scholar’s plate below is an example of fencai, a process that
achieved soft, pastel colors with enamels.
Hard rather than soft enamel technique, yincai, from
the Qing Dynasty 1644-1911.
It would be wrong to categorize the Qing as just a period of opulence. Work from this
period was varied and could also seek simplicity in meaning and materials. For
example these Yixing wares were prized for the color of the clay which was left bare
and burnished.
Storage jar,
Middle Jomon period (ca. 2500–1500 B.C.)
JapanEarthenware, unglazed
H. 27 1/2 in.
Cord-marked pottery is the characteristic ware of
the earliest inhabitants of Japan. These Neolithic
people, known as the Jomon (cord-marking)
culture, existed on the abundant fishing and
hunting on the Japanese islands from at least the
fifth millennium B.C., surviving in some areas
until the third century A.D.
The cord-marked herringbone pattern was
reproduced by cords knotted together and
twisted in opposite directions.
All Jomon pots were made by hand, without the
aid of a wheel, the potter building up the vessel
from the bottom with coil upon coil of soft clay.
As in all other Neolithic cultures, women
produced these early potteries. The clay was
mixed with a variety of adhesive materials,
including mica, lead, fibers, and crushed shells.
After the vessel was formed, tools were
employed to smooth both the outer and
interior surfaces.
When completely dry, it was fired in an
outdoor bonfire at a temperature of no more
than about 900° C.
Deep bowl with sculptural rim, late Middle
Jomon period. ca. 1500 B.C
Japan Earthenware
H. 13 in.
During the middle Jomon period,
communities were larger and rims of pots
began to take on flamboyant shapes.
Irregular shape of rim may indicate some
kind of ritual use.
Dogu – Middle to Late Jomon Period
Yayoi Period 300 BCE – 300 CE. Smoother pottery, use of clay
slips. Concurrent: development of metalurgy.
Kofun Period 300-555
• Haniwa were placed at
the top of the burial
mound, in the center,
along the edges, and at
the entrance of the
burial chamber of
enormous tombs
constructed for the
ruling elite.
Haniwa warrior figure
from Gunma Prefecture, Japan
5th to 6th century C.E.
low-fired clay
49 1/4 in. high
Asuka/Nara Period 552 CE – 794 CE
Sue Ceramics
Ash Glazes and the Potter’s Wheel
Figurative Sculpture
In clay, as well as wood
Nio or Guardian from Toudaiji
Goryeo Celadon Ceramics
Inlaid Slip, Celadon Glaze
Melon shaped Ewer (pouring vessel)

Ceramics-China, Japan,Korea