The Treasures from the Ming and Qing Dynasties

Source: Henan Museum Edit: Zrr Time: 2020-12-31 09:49:05

The improved agricultural and handicraft productivity and commercial prosperity in the Ming and Qing dynasties directly moved forward the development of art and design. In the Ming and Qing periods, specialized agencies to manage handicraft production were established in the court, such as the Inner Court Workshops in the Ming dynasty and the Palace Workshops in the Qing dynasty, and imperial kilns were constructed in Jingdezhen. All skilful artisans from across the country were brought to these imperial workshops and kilns to produce a great wealth of superb handicraft products, such as lacquerware made with choice materials and elegant decorations, delicately carved jadeware, magnificent enamels, lifelike ivory carvings, and porcelain of colorful glaze. These vessels and objects were produced mostly for special use by the court and royal families, symbolizing imperial power and identity. With great artistic values and aesthetic tastes, they demonstrate unusual wisdom and amazing workmanship of ancient artisans.

Part1  Lacquerware

Lacquer techniques reached their pinnacle in the Ming and Qing periods when lacquerware was made with choice materials, sophisticated process and magnificent and elegant decorations. Several decorative techniques such as dilaoqi (carved lacquer), tiangqi (filled-in), inlaying, colorful painting, and application of gold were employed to exhibit the unique charm of lacquerware.

Part2  Jadeware for the Purpose of Appreciation

In the Ming and Qing periods, abundant stone materials available for jade production brought jade crattsmanship to an unprecedented height. Jadeware for the purpose of appreciation or home decoration features animal or plant designs and forms of different vessels that were carved with such diverse traditional techniques as incised carving, relief carving, flat relief carving, openwork engraving and carving on jade stone of natural color. Jade objects made in this period of time are known for their fine quality, crystal texture and delicate designs.

Part3  Ivory Carvings

After development for 6,000 to 7,000 years, the art of ivory carving culminated in the Ming and Qing periods. While ivory carving in the Ming dynasty is famed for human figures, ivory carving masterpieces in the Qing dynasty are mostly home displays and study ltems. Following the reign of the Qianlong emperor, color-painted ivory carvinga with openwork design became popular, featuring reallistic portrayal and lifellke design.

Ivory carved radish

Ivory carved Chinese cabbage

Part4  Enamels

Enamels were introduced from West Asia to China in the Yuan dynasty. Enamel-making techniques saw remarkable progress during the reign of the Xuande and Jingtai emperors in the Ming dynasty. Enamels were made by applying enamel glaze to metal bodies and then firing them in the kiln. There are various techniques to make enamels, including cloisonné, champlevé, flinqué, and miniature painting. Enamels are famed for their magnificent colors and elegant designs.

Cloisonné tortoise-shaped censer

Part5 Porcelain

The Ming and Qing periods represents the height of Chinese ceramic art, which is famed for porcelain in various colors.In this period, artisans drew from all the previous achievements in making celadon and white porcelain, the technique of low-temperature glazing developed from the Western Han dynasty, and the porcelain-making progresses made in the Song and Yuan dynasty, and made breakthroughs and innovations to create masterpieces of blue-and-white, doucai (contending colors), wucai (five colors) and famille rose porcelain that represent the pinnacle of Chinese ceramic art.

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