“Blanc de Chine” porcelain

Źródło: Wikimedia Commons

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Hello! It’s time for a new entry. Recently, I acquired a very interesting book on Chinese architecture. I can not wait to share with you the information contained in it. But unfortunately, architecture has to wait for now. I started two series devoted to Chinese art and I would prefer to close them first. Hehhh … I think I have to start writing more than once a week 🙂 Well, but not prolonging, because long texts are written well, but there is no one to read them. Today, another entry from the Chinese pottery series, this time talking about the type of dishes known as blanc de Chine. I invite you!

You probably wonder where in Chinese ceramics the French accent, or more precisely blanc le Chine? Well, let it not fool you. The French have neither discovered nor pioneered when it comes to importing this type of porcelain. Just Europeans have decided to give their own name to this dish quality, which is not unusual. Perhaps, however, I will skip all digressions and my personal premonitions about European names concerning Asian art. Let’s leave it for another time and focus better on what is blanc de Chine at all?
 
As the name says (Tell me, why all the French names, although simple, sound so sophisticated?) it is a type of white porcelain, produced in the city of Dehua in the province of Fuijan in China. Their unusual color can be attributed to the low amount of iron oxide. This white color, rarely found in light pink or cream, has become extremely popular in the last two centuries, although its tradition dates back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
 
The period of glory, however, fell on the next epoch, that is, the times of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and especially on the last century of its duration. In the 17th century, the demand for European merchants increased drastically. In the 18th century, figures from blanc de Chine, later produced in European manufactories (including those copied in, for example, Meissen), became very popular in Europe. Statuettes of Goddess of Mercy Guanyin were particularly popular, which in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was compared to the figure of the Mother of God (in terms of the appearance of course).
Figurka Guan Yin, dynastia Ming Źródło: Wikimedia Commons

Guan Yin figure, Ming dynasty
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Long to enumerate what was made of porcelain blanc de Chine. I will give only some categories of dishes, namely: vases, cups, bowls, censers, candlesticks, animal figurines, as well as deities. Of the latter, in addition to the already mentioned Goddess Guanyin, there are figures like Maitreya, Luohan and Ta-Mo.
Pojemnik na pędzle Źródło: Wikimedia Commons

Brush container
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Currently, production of blanc de Chine is continued in Dehuan, in a modern style. It is also produced in Japan, which was the second destination of import. The most famous place are Hirado stoves. However, the Japanese variety can be distinguished from Chinese. Its lower part is completely closed (in contrast to Chinese cases). In addition, unglazed vessels have a slightly orange hue.
 
And how to distinguish blanc de Chine in the antiquarian market? A true collector of Asian art crafts should have such a specimen in his collection (nota bene the British Museum itself has several copies, not to mention the National Gallery in Germany, which has over 400 sets!). Here are some tips:
  • historical works, such as, for example, Buddha statues from Dehua are higher than in other types of ceramic products,
  • every item is unique, unrepeatable
  • must have a certificate, in addition the signature of the author must be hand-engraved and must match that in the certificate,
  • it is generally difficult to fake blanc de Chine because it is difficult to create and burn,
Well. And so I would have to win in Totolotka to buy such a figure. But dream about it. And how do you like blanc de Chine?

Agnieszka Gach

P.S. Person who likes to watch catalogs I recommend this. 😀

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