Visit Henan, Explore China Episode II: Primitive Porcelain, Not Primitive at All (Bilingual)

Source: | 2022-08-04 11:10

Editor's note: Located in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, Henan is not only a ceramic production area with the most complete variety of ceramics in China, but also a province with the largest number of ancient kiln sites. SancaiJiaotai porcelain, white porcelain, Ru porcelain, etc., are shining pearls of Henan. The Chinese ceramic culture centered on Henan is one of the important cultural heritages fostered by the Yellow River culture. Starting on August 2, we are launching the Visit Henan, Explore China series featuring 6 short videos to help you catch a glimpse of wonderful Henan through ceramics. Here is the second episode: Primitive Porcelain, Not Primitive at All.


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NB: This is not a word-for-word transcript

Hello, this is Yang Jiaxin. In last episode, we learned the history of some beautiful painted pottery wares from the Yangshao Culture period. Today, let's go and have a look at Chinese primitive porcelain.


A screenshot from the video above

The slave society of China mainly refers to the periods of the Xia (21st-16th century BC), Shang (16th-11th century BC), Western Zhou (11th century-771 BC) and Spring and Autumn (770-476 BC, part of the period of Eastern Zhou lasting from 770-256 BC). From the 21st to the 5th century BC, China experienced great changes and laid a solid foundation for the later Iron Age with the appearance of China’s first fully-developed characters, large-scale cities and earliest porcelain - primitive porcelain or proto-porcelain.


A primitive porcelain of the Western Zhou Dynasty. [Photo/]

Primitive porcelain had been made and developed by pottery-making skills. At the sites of Shang Dynasty in Zhengzhou city, Henan province, archaeologists discovered a large number of glazed porcelain and their fragments, exquisite and hard, which were fired with a temperature above 1,000 degrees Celsius. As they were made by the primitive firing techniques, they are called primitive porcelain.


This is a primitive porcelain of Western Zhou Dynasty, with a wide mouth, slender neck, sloping shoulder and looped bottom, which is a representative of primitive porcelain.


A primitive porcelain of the Western Zhou Dynasty. [Photo/]

The evolution from pottery to porcelain was a process in which the Chinese ancestors became familiar with the characteristics of water, fire and earth. First found at the Erlitou site in Luoyang city, primitive porcelain wares were still in use during the Shang and Zhou dynasties. Because of their hardness and jade-like glaze, primitive porcelain wares were usually made for the upper classes. Although the quality of primitive porcelain is inferior to the later mature porcelain, it is the Chinese nation's great contribution to the progress of human civilization.


策划:王曦辉 张培君



制作:王君艺 何蒙贺