Apprisal of Chinese Porcelain


Understand Essentials

Knowledge of the history of Chinese ceramics, production procedures, glazing methods and decorations is essential to the appraisal of Chinese ceramics. Six aspects, material, functionality, physical features, techniques, decoration and marks determines market desirability.

Material:A correct identification of what type of clay used forms the basis, since the color, the texture and the regional availability of clay all affect the physical appearance of an object.

Functionality:Understand how an object was made or used (burial, daily ware or decorative), ranging from potteries (raw or painted), earthware and stoneware (cooking utensils or burial objects), to decorative porcelain.

Physical Features:Identify key physical features, such as shape, structural body (one piece or sectional), shade of glaze, type of cracks in glaze, dirt stain on surface, styles of marks, contributing to dating and authenticity. The invention of basic Chinese ceramic forms and their evolutions over thousands of years, from the painted potteries of the Neolithic to the primitive celadon wares of Jin (317-420), to the magnificent porcelains of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911), speaks in volume, a determinant mark for authenticity.

Techniques:Knowledge of the shapes of regional kilns, firing material (wood or coal), firing methods (singles, stacked firing boxes), temperature manipulation (low to high temperature or double firing) and glazing methods (painting, dipping, pouring; underglazed or overglazed), are essential.

Decoration:The decoration of Chinese ceramics includes motifs painted on potteries, monochrome glaze-coated ware, underglazed blue and white motif highlighted by overglazed details, the colorful famille rose and glories glaze transformations. Identifying iconographic discrepancies, altered traditional motifs or invention of new patterns determines authenticity.

Marks:Three types of marks on Chinese ceramics: reign mark, artist or workshop mark and pleasure mark, reflecting the changed imperial tastes, market trends and aesthetics.


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-Most-Up-to-Date Guide Book (Forthcoming)

Wei Yang’s Guide to Chinese Ceramics (forthcoming) focuses on some basic issues concerning the appraisal of Chinese ceramics. The guidebook is divided into four sections: identification and valuation, Chinese porcelains, mark and decoration, and References. Section 1 consists of three topics: the Basics (definition, shaping, firing, glazing and treatment); Analysis and Valuation (dating, authentication, qualitative ranking, and case study). Section 2 introduces the fundamentals to the appreciation of primitive ceramics, antique wares of 10th -13th centuries and colored wares of 14th -20th centuries. Section 3 discusses marks and decorative motifs. Section 4 explain the impact of the original, the imitation or the copy on the market value. It concludes with a summary of famous reginal kilns, glossary and bibliography.

This guidebook offers practical guidance on the identification and valuation of Chinese ceramics. It helps English readers gain access to a correct reading of marks via images. It demonstrates how to use the proposed methodology via a few case studies.


-Identification & Authenticity

Barnes, Laurie E, et al. Chinese Ceramics from the Paleolithic Period through the Qing Dynasty (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).
Bower, Virginia, et al. Decorative Arts, Part II: Far Eastern Ceramics and Paintings: Person and Indian Rugs and Carpets (Washington: National Gallery of Art, Oxford University Press, 1998).
Carswell, John. Blue & White: Chinese Porcelain around the World (London: British Museum Press, 2000).
Leidy, Denise Patry. How to Read Chinese Ceramics (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2015).
Little, Stephen. Chinese Ceramics of the Transitional Period, 1620-1683 (New York: China House Gallery, 1983).
Pierson, Stacey. Earth, Fire and Water: Chinese Ceramic Technology: A Handbook for Non-Specialists (London: University of London, 1996).
Wood, Nigel. Chinese Glazes: Their Origins, Chemistry, and Recreation (London & Philadelphia: A & C Black, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).
Sargent, William R.Treasures of Chinese Export Ceramics from the Peabody Essex Museum (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2012).
Scott, Rosemary E., et al. Imperial Taste: Chinese Ceramics from the Percival David Foundation (London: Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, 1989).


-Dating & Origin

Cort, Louise Allison and Jan Stuart. Joined Colors: Decoration and Meaning in Chinese Porcelain. Ceramics from Collectors in the Min Chiu Society (Hong Kong: Tai Yip Co., 1993).
Curtis, Julia B. Chinese Porcelains of the Seventeenth Century: Landscapes, Scholars’ Motifs and Narratives (New York: China Institute Gallery, 1995).
Hong Quan. Zhongguo guai taoci kuanshi (Marks of Antique Chinese Ceramics) (Changsha: Huan meishu, 2009).
Mino, Yutaka, and Katherine R. Tsiang. Ice and Green Clouds: Traditions of Chinese Celadon (Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986).
Mowry, Robert D. Hare’s Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers: Chinese Brown-and Black-Glazed Ceramics, 400-1400 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Museum, 1996).
Pierson, Stacey. Designs as Signs: Decoration and Chinese Ceramics (London: Percival David Foundation of Chinese art, University of London, 2001).
Xiong Liao and Xiong Wei.Zhongguo lidai taoci kuanshi dadian (Collection of Chinese Marks of All Dynasties) (Shanghai: Wenhua, 2004).