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Monday, 10 April 2017



Porcelain originated in China around the time of the Eastern Han Dynasty period (206 BC – 220 AD. It was perfected by the Chinese during the Tang dynasty (7th-10th-c) when production of the famous jade-green celadon ware began.

Song Dynasty celadon porcelain with a fenghuang spout, 10th century, China.

By the eighth century, tea was now being grown in large quantities in China and was being sold as a commercial crop. The popularity of tea-drinking influenced the development of porcelain, as it was found to be a suitable ceramic for making the tea drinking bowls. These vessels were glazed in picturesque patterns and an attractive bowl for drinking from reflected well on the social status of its owner.

The first mention of porcelain in Europe was in Marco Polo's late 13th century book about his travels in China, Il Milione.

Porcelain found its way to Western Europe from the fourteenth century, and was prized as a semi-precious material, often mounted in gold or silver.

The earliest Chinese porcelain object to have reached Europe was a Fonthill vase (see below), which was a Chinese gift for Louis the Great of Hungary in 1338.

 By the 17th century China-ware brought to Europe by the Dutch and English East Indian companies had become a passion with society ladies.

The first European attempts to make china-ware were at the Medici factory in Florence in the 1570s. However, their attempts at copying Chinese porcelain met with little success.

The German chemist Johann Friedrich Böttger (February 4, 1682 – March 13, 1719) was the first European to discover the secret of the creation of hard-paste porcelain in 1708. Production began the following year and the first pieces went on sale at the Leipzig Easter Fair in 1710.

The monarch of Saxony, Augustus II of Poland finished building a royal porcelain factory in Meissen in June the same year and the operation was transferred there. The Meissen factory was the first to produce porcelain in Europe in large quantities. Since the recipe was kept a trade secret by Böttger for his company, experiments continued elsewhere throughout Europe.

French porcelain factory, 1771.

Porcelain can informally be referred to as "china" or "fine china" in some English-speaking countries, as China was the birthplace of porcelain making.

Some china is called "bone" china because some powdered animal bone is mixed in with the clay used to make this china: it gives the china a special kind of strength, whiteness, and translucency.

The first development of what would become known as bone china was made by Thomas Frye at his Bow porcelain factory near Bow in East London in 1748. His factory was located very close to some cattle markets and slaughterhouses, and he therefore had easy access to animal bones. Frye used up to 45% bone ash in his formulation to create what he called 'fine porcelain.' Although in quality it rivalled porcelain imported from Europe and China the factory was not a commercial success.


The word Porcelain originates from the old Italian porcellana (cowrie shell) because of its resemblance to the translucent surface of the shell.

In 1981 First Lady Nancy Reagan spent $200, 000 on new china for the White House.

Source Europress Encyclopedia

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