The Early Modern World, C. 1300–1600

Art and Zen Buddhism

What is porcelain?

Porcelain is a type of fine ceramic that supposedly got its name from Marco Polo, who first visited China from Europe in the thirteenth century. There are two types of porcelain: hard-paste (known as true porcelain) and soft-paste (known as artificial porcelain). Hard-paste porcelain was first developed in China in the seventh or eighth century, and wasn’t seen in Europe until the early eighteenth century. Porcelain is made of fine white clay and requires a very high temperature in the kiln when fired. Blue-and-white painted porcelain from the Ming period is among the most expensive and most highly sought after ceramics in the world. Ming painters used cobalt glazes from Persia and designed heavily outlined images; dragons and nature themes were very popular.


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