An exhibition of Liling underglazed porcelain opened at the Capital Museum on April 27, and will remain open until June 20. Hosted by the Hunan Provincial Cultural Affairs Bureau and Zhuzhou Municipal Government, the exhibition is one of a host of cultural activities being held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
A dinner set used by former Chairman Mao Zedong.[China.org.cn]
Unlike more traditional blue and white porcelain, Liling underglazed porcelain is polychrome, but both are refined, elegant, and graceful. In 2008, Liling porcelain was officially recognized as part of the national cultural heritage.
The Capital Museum exhibition is divided into three parts: "Origins" – featuring items produced in the late Qing Dynasty, when the industry first flourished; "Treasure" – showing household porcelain specially produced for former leaders such as Chairman Mao and Deng Xiaoping. Liling porcelain is used in the government headquarters at Zhongnanhai and is often presented as gifts to foreign leaders, earning it the nicknames "national porcelain", and "red official porcelain." The "Development" section of the exhibition showcases newer styles of Liling porcelain that have become popular in recent decades.
A city in the east of Hunan Province, Liling has abundant reserves of ceramic materials. The manufacturing process for polychrome underglazed porcelain was developed there during the late Qing Dynasty. Liling porcelain is popular nowadays not only because of its fresh and elegant look, but also because unlike some other varieties of porcelain, it contains no harmful traces of lead or cadmium. Being environmentally-friendly, Liling porcelain is thought by some to represent the "peak of mandarin porcelain art".
The exhibition at Capital Museum, running concurrently with two others featuring blue and white porcelain and the sculptures of Swedish ceramic artists Ulla and Gustav Kraitz, offers visitors a feast of ceramic art over the May Day Holiday.