Rare blue-and-white ceramics are to be sold at an auction in Beijing on January 7 and 8.
Though ceramics were used in China 6,000 years ago during the New Stone Age, blue-and-white ceramics appeared only in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
In the past 1,300 years, fine blue-and-white porcelain ware has been produced using traditional techniques. Adopting a style that paints a strong blue under a transparent glaze. The hard glaze has ensured the perfect preservation of the rich color.
The production of blue-and-white porcelain went through major developments during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). Porcelain made during this time was elaborately decorated and brightly colored.
A 34-centimeter-tall vase from the period, which is to go under the hammer, provides a vivid illustration of the 14th-century ceramic art. It bears the exquisite picture of a phoenix flying through a rain of flowers.
During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), blue-and-white porcelain wares turned into the chief porcelain products.
Blue-and-white porcelain entered into its golden era during the reign of Emperor Yongle (reign 1403-1424), Xuande (reign 1426-1435) and Chenghua (reign 1465-1487).
Porcelain produced under the reign of Emperor Yongle and Xuande feature a thick glaze, with various designs and patterns. Porcelain wares produced under the reign of Emperor Chenghua, are lighter in color and have Chinese ink and wash painting on them.
A plate on sale at the auction, with a diameter of 19.3 centimeters produced during the reign of Xuande as marked by a stamp on its underside, has a very uncustomary pattern. A dragon, which was traditionally adored as a symbol of power, was painted on the surface of the ware, thought to have been a food container.
Meanwhile, one piece of porcelain allegedly made in Emperor Chenghua's reign, with a diameter of 31.5 centimeters, depicts a scene of people playing chess in a garden painted on its surface.
A public viewing of the ceramics will be held from January 4 to 6 at the Jingguang Center, where the Beijing Time International Auction Co Ltd is to present the auction.
(China Daily December 22, 2005)