Blue and White Porcelain Dishes
A Charm of the East Transcend to the West
Prized for its beauty, Chinese blue and white porcelain is one of the most prevalent type of porcelain in the world. Before becoming a highly rare collectible globally, it was once stored at the lowest level of the cargo ships to provide ballast in contrast to the more expensive produce stored above such as tea, silks, paintings, lacquerware, metalwork, and ivory.
Blue and white decoration first became widely used in Chinese porcelain in the 14th century after the expensive cobalt pigment for the blue began to be imported from Persia. It was exported to other countries leading blue and white porcelain to be recognized in Europe. The porcelains were regarded as objects of great rarity and luxury. By the early sixteenth century, after Portugal established trade routes to the Far East and began commercial trade with Asia, Chinese potters began to produce objects specifically for export to the West, and porcelains began to arrive in some quantity.
As the export trade increased, so did the demand from Europe for familiar, utilitarian forms. European forms such as mugs, ewers, tazze, and candlesticks were unknown in China, so models were sent to the Chinese potteries to be copied.
In addition to the unique colors, blue and white porcelain was decorated with motifs that brought meaning to the piece. The motifs had Islamic influences, as wares were often shipped to Muslim traders in Southwest-Asian markets. Many pieces contain motifs and decorations that offer wishes to the recipient, as porcelain was often given as a gift.
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