History of porcelain and bone china.

Image from here

Lettres édifiantes et curieuses de Chine par des missionnaires jésuites. The secrets, which d'Entrecolles read about and witnessed in China (Image from wikipedia)

DEFINITION. Many misunderstood the china as the products that were produced in the Republic of China. Lets start with the term porcelain. Porcelain is a pretty common term that everybody knows. Porcelain can informally be referred to as "china" or "fine china" in some English-speaking countries, as China was the birthplace of porcelain making. Hence we called them the china. There are differences between bone china and fine china, but lets not discuss about them yet.  Porcelain can be divided into the three main categories: hard-paste, soft-paste and bone china depending on the composition of the paste, the material used to form the body of a porcelain object and the firing conditions. In the next post, I will discuss on the hard-paste porcelain (Meissen porcelain) since some of my collections were originate from Germany. 

HISTORY. Glazed ceramic wares had developed into porcelain in Han dynasty period (196–220 BC). Later in Tang Dynasty (618–906), the porcelain were exported to the Islamic world, where it was highly prized. By the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), porcelain art was being exported to Europe. Some of the most well-known Chinese porcelain art styles arrived in Europe during this era, such as the coveted blue-and-white wares. The Ming Dynasty controlled much of the porcelain trade, which were further expanded to all over Asia, Africa and Europe through the Silk Road. Later, Portuguese merchants began direct trade over the sea route with the Ming Dynasty in 1517 and were followed by Dutch merchants in 1598.

EUROPE. Early in the 16th century, Portuguese traders returned home with samples of kaolin clay, which they discovered in China to be essential in the production of porcelain wares (They tried to copy). However, the Chinese techniques and composition used to manufacture porcelain were not yet fully understood. Countless experiments to produce porcelain had unpredictable results and met with failure. In 1712, many of the elaborate Chinese porcelain manufacturing secrets were revealed throughout Europe by the French Jesuit father Francois Xavier d'Entrecolles and soon published in the Lettres édifiantes et curieuses de Chine par des missionnaires jésuites. The secrets, which d'Entrecolles read about and witnessed in China, were now known and began seeing use in Europe.

BONE CHINA. Bone China used in the production of tableware products industrially has high level of whiteness, smoothness and light translucency properties. This porcelain is used also in artistic applications today because of the aesthetic opportunities it presents. Body composition of bone china is provided by bone ash, felspar and kaolin in its composition. Its recipe known today was developed by Josiah Spode II in England on 1794 and the production of bone china begun at the Spode factory in Staffordshire at that time. The bisque firing temperature of bone china is between 1220ºC – 1280ºC according various factors such as the firing speed and body composition (Ozgundogdu, 2003). A traditional bone China bodies as defined by Singer and Singer (1963) in their book "Industrial Ceramics" consist of 50 % bone ash, 25 % Kaolin, and 25 % Felspar. Bone china is known for its high levels of whiteness and translucency, and very high mechanical strength and chip resistance. Its high strength allows it to be produced in thinner cross-sections than other types of porcelain. Bone ash in its composition specifies the white and semi-transparent characteristics of bone china. Bone ash is usually obtained from cattle bones which have a lower iron content.

CONLUSION. 1) China does not mean made in China. 2) There are 3 types of Porcelain. 3) Bone china is fame in Europe since many factories rise in producing high quality and artistic china wares.


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  2. Hello! Thank you for your participation in the "directory blogspot!" I see that your blog is devoted to the porcelain! I live in France in the city of Limoges, or main activity is the porcelain for centuries! I give you some addresses to expand your knowledge!

    Regarding the address of the "museum Adrien Duboucher I can send you pictures of unique pieces in the world

    1. Thank you for your kindness. I'll spare times and browse all the listed websites. Have a jolly Christmas!