Porcelain – China’s gift to the world

China is country of many firsts. It could even be said the much of mankind’s history is the history of China. The Chinese invented what many historians consider to be most ground breaking inventions in world history: Gunpowder, Paper, Printing and the Compass. The first revolutionized warfare, the second two allowed for the dissemination of ideas and culture and the fourth allowed for reliable navigation and exploration of the earth.

 

But there is another first that China gifted to the world: Porcelain. Originating in the furnaces of the Han dynasty, the immaculate ceramics were stronger and more beautiful than any of their earthenware counterparts. Such pieces as were traded to the West were valued beyond measure while the methods of their manufacture were ardently coveted. Porcelain however remained a jealously guarded secret and for millennia China had a monopoly on its trade and the potters of Europe lamented their ignorance of such precious knowledge.

It was only in the early years of the 18th Century that Europe finally learned how to make porcelain. The early porcelain produced was weaker than its Chinese counterparts, and also suffered somewhat in aesthetics from deformation during firing. However by 1750 developments in Europe had resulted in more hardy porcelain, culminating in the discovery of Bone China by Josiah Spode. Now Europe could finally rise to fulfilling the demand for porcelain on the continent. Pottery works began to dot every corner of England and the continent, and the porcelain produced was manifold.

 

The European porcelain makers produced works of a different aesthetic to the that of Far East – no less beautiful , perhaps having more in the way of ostentation than the conservative Chinese; however in our modern day the antique porcelain of China still commands the highest prices on the market, with the record price currently being held by a Qing dynasty vase which garnered 84 Million USD at a recent auction.

 

Whether you lean more towards European or Asian porcelain you will find a range of antique porcelain on bidorbuy.

 

Qing porcelain vase