"White as jade, bright as a mirror, thin as paper, sound as a chime." To understand the city gift of Jingdezhen, one must first flip through the historical stories of Jingdezhen. Before it was known to the world, Jingdezhen was called "Xinping", and was renamed Changnan during the Tang Dynasty. By the Song Dynasty, the blue and white porcelain of Jingdezhen was deeply loved by the royal family. Perhaps out of excessive fondness, Emperor Zhenzong of Song simply named Changnan after his reign title "Jingde". The emergence of Yuan blue and white porcelain later became an epoch-making event in the history of ancient Chinese porcelain making. Blue and white porcelain also became the most representative type of Jingdezhen porcelain, and almost overnight, it became a cultural symbol of ancient China. Join us on a journey through time as we uncover the beauty and cultural heritage encapsulated within these remarkable vessels.
- A History of Artistry:
The art of porcelain production in China can be traced back thousands of years, with its roots firmly embedded in ancient dynasties. The mastery of creating porcelain bowls evolved over time, with each dynasty leaving its unique imprint on the craft. From the Song Dynasty's elegant simplicity to the Ming Dynasty's exquisite blue and white designs, China's porcelain bowls have been cherished and collected by emperors, scholars, and connoisseurs alike.
- The Intricacies of Manufacturing:
Although a porcelain bowl is a simple piece of porcelain, it still has to go through complex processes, from stirring and kneading the clay, to throwing, drying, trimming, painting, glazing, and firing the kiln, each step is indispensable. The clay is shaped into the desired form using various techniques, such as throwing on a pottery wheel or hand-building.
Once shaped, the bowl undergoes a meticulous glazing process. Glazes, formulated with carefully selected minerals and pigments, are applied to enhance the aesthetic appeal and functionality of the bowl. The firing process, carried out in high-temperature kilns, vitrifies the clay, transforming it into a durable and luminous masterpiece.
- Designs and Symbolism:
Made in China porcelain bowls showcase a rich array of designs and intricate patterns. These designs often draw inspiration from nature, mythology, and Chinese cultural symbols. From delicately hand-painted floral motifs to intricate landscapes and auspicious symbols, each design carries its own significance.
If time is a river, then the history of porcelain inheritance is the sparkling waves on the river's surface. It meanders through this rejuvenated ancient town of a thousand years, intertwining the old and the new, the past and the present, people and porcelain. The use of symbolic patterns and motifs on porcelain bowls reflects China's profound cultural beliefs and traditions, connecting the art form to its cultural roots.
- Regional Styles and Influences:
China's vast and diverse landscape has given rise to a multitude of regional styles and influences in porcelain bowl production. Jingdezhen, in the midst of epochal changes, has gradually become a living ceramic culture museum.
Not only has it seen the revival of traditional industrial heritage and traditional districts, but also the quiet growth of grassroots ceramic cultural and creative villages. With the revitalization of Song porcelain villages, it has already become the world's attention as the 'City of International Cultural Creativity'. Dehua, on the other hand, specializes in crafting exquisite white porcelain bowls, known for their pure and serene beauty.
- Enduring Appeal and Collectibility:
Made in China porcelain bowls continue to captivate collectors, art enthusiasts, and interior decorators worldwide. Their timeless elegance and cultural significance make them highly sought-after pieces. Whether displayed as decorative objects, used for serving meals, or treasured heirlooms, these bowls add a touch of sophistication to any setting.
Market Value of Antique Chinese Porcelain Bowls
In recent years, the enamel porcelain of the Qing Dynasty's three generations (Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong) has been highly sought after in the art collection market, especially Qianlong porcelain, which has almost become synonymous with high-priced and sky-high priced porcelain.
In 2006, at Christie's auction in Hong Kong, the famous collector Mr. Zhang Zongxian's Qianlong "Imperial Enamel Color Apricot Forest Spring Swallow Bowl" was sold for 151 million Hong Kong dollars.
Yes, such an ordinary-looking bowl sold for 150 million! And such sky-high transaction records are not uncommon.
In 2007, at the Zhongmao Shengjia auction, an "Imperial Enamel Color Garden Poem Lantern Vase" was sold for 84 million RMB, setting the highest transaction price for Chinese porcelain in mainland China at the time, as shown in the picture below:
In 2010, at Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong, a pair of Qianlong imperial enamel color hammer bottles and a Qianlong longevity continuous picture long-necked gourd bottle were sold for 140.66 million Hong Kong dollars and 252.66 million Hong Kong dollars respectively, as shown in the picture below:
In 2011, at Sotheby's auction, a Qianlong enamel color "Ancient Moon Pavilion" poem, "Brocade Chicken Flower Stone" picture gallbladder bottle was estimated at 180 million Hong Kong dollars, but it did not sell, but was sold for 200 million Hong Kong dollars in a private purchase after the auction, as shown in the picture below:
We have counted the top ten enamel porcelain pieces in China's auction prices after 2010, with the highest price reaching 120 million and the lowest also having 10 million, as shown in the table below:
Various data show that enamel color porcelain is in a position that can be encountered but not sought after in the Chinese art auction market. The market reaction brought about by this position that can be encountered but not sought after is "amazing when it appears", and high prices frequently appear.
So why are the prices of enamel porcelain from the three generations of the Qing Dynasty so high? There are mainly three reasons:
First, the enamel porcelain of the Qing Dynasty was exclusively used by the royal family at that time.
Porcelain fetus painting enamel is a characteristic of the royal porcelain used in the Qing Dynasty, and it is the most exquisite colored porcelain in the glaze. From Kangxi's rich and solemn colors to Yongzheng's light and elegant, to Qianlong's precise and complicated grandeur, enamel, this foreign-flavored color material is fully displayed on porcelain. Combining Chinese and Western charm in one, it fully depicts the nobility and glory of the royal identity. Qianlong enamel porcelain is the most exquisite pinnacle of the three generations of Kang, Yong, and Qian enamel porcelain in the Qing Dynasty, and the classical beauty of Qianlong's ladies' garden pot is its representative.
Second, the craftsmanship of Qing Dynasty enamel porcelain is extremely superb.
Enamel does not have large object shapes, most of them are plates, bowls, cups, bottles, boxes, pots, among which bowls and plates are the most, but each type has different variations.
The characteristics of enamel color porcelain are fine porcelain quality, heavy color materials, bright and beautiful colors, and exquisite painting. Making enamel color porcelain is extremely laborious, and it disappeared after Qianlong.
Enamel color porcelain is very particular about the production of the fetus. The wall of the fetus is extremely thin, uniform and regular, and the combination is tight. On such a fetus, the glaze is extremely fine, the glaze color is extremely white, and the glaze surface is glossy without orange peel glaze, undulating glaze, and there is no brown eye phenomenon, which can be praised as "white jade without flaws".
Third, rarity is precious.
The reason why enamel color porcelain has such a large investment value is primarily related to its existing quantity.
The original Qing Palace collection of Kang, Yong, and Qian Dynasty enamel porcelain is about 400 pieces, of which more than 300 are currently in the Taipei Palace Museum, about 40 are in the Beijing Palace Museum, and other enamel color porcelain scattered in museums around the world and in private hands should be late Qing Dynasty. The total circulation of the market is only about 60 pieces.
This has also made enamel color porcelain a "darling" of the collection world early on.