China-ware or bone-China or porcelain or Chinese ceramics has developed in the form of a fine art ever since the rule of the dynasties. During the Paleolithic era, which is about 11,000 years ago, a few of the initial types were produced. Chinese Ceramics can be put to a wide range of uses starting from the use in the construction materials as bricks and tiles to hand-made pottery vessels baked in bonfires or kilns to the finely crafted porcelain wares or China sets initially created for the royalty. Porcelain as understood by the Chinese is used to mean a wide variety of ceramics, which have been fired on high heat. Some of these may not be identified as porcelain, as understood by the Western countries. The reason being that they are generally 'green-fired' or 'once-fired', meaning that the body is baked and at the same time the glaze on the outer surface is also produced. After a single unit is made and a proper finishing is given to it, it goes through the following steps: 1)It is dried. 2)Then the outer surface is glazed. 3)It is again dried. 4)Finally it is fired again to give it a hard finish. In the hot kiln the body and the glaze blend with each other to give a uniform effect. Chinese enameled wares are produced similarly, but the enamels are added at the second stage. Then the pieces are again fired but at low temperatures.

Types of China-ware:

China-ware or Ceramics are generally grouped into three main categories:
earthenware, stoneware and ceramics. In China they are grouped under 2 broad headings:


  • High-fired China-ware
  • Low-fired China-ware China-ware can also be divided into northern and southern China-ware. The geographical differences between the north and the south lead to the availability of different kinds of raw materials. Thus the main difference between the China-ware of the north and the south is that in composition. In the western countries porcelain is distinguished from other materials by virtue of its translucency, while in China any opaque piece of ware, which rings with a clear note when struck with something is identified as porcelain.
Composition of China-ware:

Despite the difference in the composition of different types of China-wares, a combination of the following two main components is used to make them:

  • China clay (Gaoling) – it is mainly clay mineral kaolinite.
  • Chinese porcelain stone – it is also known as Petunse. It is a feldspathic rock which contains sericite, quartz and other materials. These minerals contain platelets, which increases the water retention capacity of the clay. It thus becomes easier to shape the China-ware on the
    potter's wheel.
Origin of China-ware:

It is difficult to ascertain the discovery of the potter's wheel. Originally it was used in Egypt, Persia, and Babylonia. Explorations in the tombs of Egypt show that pottery making was very much present in the 3000 BC. These objects tell us a lot about the lives of those ancient people. The exact date or time-period of the origin of the China-ware is highly debated. The most commonly accepted notion is that China-ware was made during the late Eastern Han period (100 to 200 AD), the Three Kingdoms period (220 to 280 AD), the Six Dynasties period (220 to 589 AD) and the Tang Dynasty (618 to 906 AD). Some of the earliest Chinese ceramics were found at the Xianrendong (Spirit Cave) site in the province of Jiangxi during the 9000 BC. These were made by hand and then coiled and fired in bonfires. They were decorated mainly with impressions of cord marks, thumb nails, stamping or piercing. The initial discovery of bone China can be traced back to the Josiah Spode the Second. He used six parts of bone ash, four parts of China stone and three and a half parts of China clay to make China-ware.

Characteristics of China-ware or Porcelain:

The term “Pottery” is an all-encompassing term that is generally used to mean all the products that the potter produces by using his art. Porcelain or China-ware can be either hard-paste or soft-paste. Soft-paste which was earlier made of a little amount of clay was difficult to shape on the potter's wheel. Later it was modified to make it more plastic and hence easy to shape. These pastes referred to as bodies or electric porcelain, contain more clay. Jolleying and turning are methods used to shape them. It is known as "soft" as it cannot stay strong at higher temperatures in comparison to hard-paste porcelain. Soft-paste is fired at around 1100 degree centigrade for the frit based compositions and 1200 to 1250 degree centigrade for the feldspathic compositions. The low temperatures produce certain advantages like: It allows the artists to use a wider palette of colors for decoration. It reduces fuel consumption. The soft-paste porcelain is more granular and is easier to decorate while enameling the outer surface. Hard-paste formulations are more resilient and do not experience pyroplastic deformation. Experiments carried out at Rouen produced the earliest soft-paste in France around 1673, when a patent was given to Louis Poterat. Then Louis Henry, Duc de Bourbon sets up a soft-paste factory in Chantilly in 1730. In 1750 a soft-paste factory was started at Mennecy by François Barbin.

Minton Ware:

It generally refers to cream-colored, blue-printed earthenware maiolica, bone China and Parian porcelain. It is produced at a factory which was found in 1793 by Thomas Minton. He introduced the famous Willow pattern. He started the production of bone-China in the 1980s.

Davenport Ware:

John Davenport of Longport first created this cream-colored earthenware in 1793. These pieces generally use painting, gilding or transfer painting techniques. He manufactured domestic bone China from 1800 to 1887.

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