Chinese Blue-and-White Porcelain
Pair of Plates with ladies and flowers design in underglaze blue
Large lobed bowl with design of the eight Buddhist emblems in underglaze blue
Narcissus bowl with scrolling lotus design in underglaze blue
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Collectors share their passion for Chinese ceramics

In the exhibition, The Best of Both Worlds, art and artifacts dating from the Neolithic period to the early twentieth century which shows the broad range in the Hong Kong Museum of Art’s Chinese Antiquities collection are on display.

The collection owes its breadth and scale to generous donors and private collectors, who shared their passion for Chinese ceramics by giving funds as well as donating works to the museum, thus providing some of the finest examples of these works for the public’s enjoyment.

The Museum has a considerable collection of underglaze blue porcelain, commonly known as blue-and-white ware, produced during the Yuan and Ming dynasties.

China’s history of ceramic making is delineated by technical innovations that give rise to unique styles of decoration. Blue-and-white is the most well-known style of decoration on Chinese made porcelains. It resulted from the discovery of a new technical process that evolved during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). The technique of painting blue pigment, made with cobalt, directly to unfired plain white ground porcelain, then adding a clear glaze, and firing at high temperatures was found to produce the most beautiful and intricate patterns of “blue on white”.  

Some fine examples show that craftsmen were highly skilled in their hand application of this underglaze-painting technique by the mid-1300s. As trade flourished and demand for fine porcelain increased domestically and internationally, this method of decoration was popularized and perfected.

Text & photos Cammy Yiu