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Tea is one of those cultural items, which has a strong connection to ceramics - thanks to the teapot and the teabowl. It is a very pervasive drink, not only in Eastern societies, but also in the West. The same thing can be said of tea utensils, such as the teapot, which is also a collectors item in both the East and the West -- one need think only of the coveted Yixing Teapot.
Teapots have a rich history ..........
Read this entire article 'The Tea Ceremony and Teapots, in the Articles section of this site
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In 1910 Korea was forcibly colonized by the Japanese bringing to an end the Chosun Dynasty. During the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945) Korean pottery as an art form, all but died out. To be sure, white porcelain and some brown porcelain was still produced but it was of a lower quality for daily use and not considered art in itself.
After Korea's liberation from Japanese rule at the end of WWII and through the Korean war (1950-1953) survival, and not art, was the order of the day. But in the mid-1950s a group of Korean artisans set out to discover the lost art of Koryo celadon. Since that time they have made great progress in re-discovering the lost art and today are nearly able to reproduce the stunning beauty of the original Koryo celadon.
Egypt is credited with being the place of origin of the potter's wheel. It was here that the tuntable shaft was lengthened about 3000BC. and a flywheel added. The flywheel was kicked and later was moved by pulling the edge with the left hand whilst forming the clay with the right. This led to the anti-clockwise motion for the potter's wheel which is almost universal. Only in parts of Japan and in parts of India was a clockwise motion used.
The clockwise wheel evolved from the use of a flywheel as wheel-head which was motivated by a hand-held stick located in notches near the edge. Holding the stick at its top end in the left hand and locating the other end in a notch the right hand is used to pull the stick towards one. When the wheel is truning sufficiently one can begin throwing. The wheel has to be given periodic impetus during the throwing of a pot.
The Koryo Dynasty, which lasted from 918 to 1392 AD had a strong Buddhist influence which shaped many of it's cultural achievements. Buddhist temples flourished during the Koryo period, and with them grew a need for fine vessels to be used during the many ritual ceremonies. In the middle of the 10th century Korean artists, some who had been schooled in China, began creating celadon by using inlay and copper glazing techniques which were developed first in China but only fully developed and perfected by Korean artisans. The Korean use of these techniques were unique in the history of pottery. The level of fine quality and beauty they were able to achieve in their work surpassed that of other countries and came to be revered by even the Chinese for it's elegant, yet simple beauty. The Koryo Royal Court also used some of the finest examples of celadon pottery in their palaces both as vessels for daily use and as objects of fine art.
The finest examples of celadon were produced during the middle and latter part of the 11th century by artisans who remain unknown today. With the Mongol Invasions which started in 1231 AD the flourishing culture began to decline, and along with it, the quality of the pottery being produced. By the beginning of the Chosun Dynasty (1392-1910) most of the delicate manufacturing techniques for celadon had been lost.
Ceramics: examples through Western
Roman period potter's wheel; lead glazing; decorative use of slip (watered-down clay) Medieval period sgraffito (scratched) tiles and other products (earthenware decorated with slip of a contrasting color, which is then scratched through) such as those made in Bologna, Italy. Lead-glazed mugs made in England and France, colored bright green or yellow-brown with copper or iron oxides. Tin-glazed ware in S Italy and Spain by 13th century, influenced by established Islamic techniques 14th-century Germany stoneware developed from hard earthenwares; tin glazes developed; color added by thin slips mixed with high-temperature colors. Later, mottled brown glaze recognized as characteristic of Cologne, referred to as "tigerware" in Britain 15th century Hispano-Moresque painted ware imitated by Italians, developing into majolica by mid-century, using the full range of high-temperature colors; centers of the craft included Tuscany, Faenza, Urbino, and Venice. Some potteries, such as that at Gubbio, additionally used luster glazes. Typical products are dishes and apothecary jars 16th century potters from Faenza spread tin-glazed earthenware (majolica) skills to France, Spain, and the Netherlands, where it became known as faience; from Antwerp the technique spread to England. The
English in the 17th century named Dutch faience "Delftware", after the main center of production 17th century faience centers developed at Rouen and Moustiers in France, Alcora in Spain, and in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. Blue underglaze was increasingly used, in imitation of Chinese blue and white designs, reflecting the growth of orientalism 18th century European developments in porcelain, also in using a rich palette of low-temperature enamel colors. The vitreous enamel process, first developed at Strasbourg about 1750, spread around N Europe. The earliest ceramics date back to the beginning of the Neolithic in the Near East, Asia, the Americas, Europe, and Africa.
Brown Porcelain (Bun-Cheong)
During the middle 15th Century in the Chosun Dynasty, brown porcelain, Bun-cheong, appeared and became the standard for daily use by the people of the period. It was used by all classes of society unlike celadon which had been used only by Buddhist monks, royalty, and aristocrats. It was somewhat rougher in finish than the celadon had been, and did not possess such delicate beauty.
Meaning of Design in Korean Celadon
Both the designs and shapes used in Koryo celadon were representations of the spiritual beliefs of the Korean people. These beliefs were fostered by Shamanism, and the Buddhist beliefs of the era. Following are the symbols most commonly used on inlaid celadon and their meanings.
Circle: The circle represents the Sun and worship for the Sun. Fish: The fish represents a superior realization.
Lotus: The lotus stands for the Sun and mercy of Buddha Tiger: The tiger design symbolizes a guardian, and charm.
Peony: The peony depicts richness and honors. Dragon: The dragon stands for the all mighty.
Duck: The duck symbolizes the Premiere ranking. Chrysanthemum: The chrysanthemum symbolizes health and well being.
Crane: The crane represents Immortality Pine Tree: The pine tree depicts royalty and fidelity.
In addition to the above symbols and their meanings, the actual shape of the vessels has meaning as well. The shapes of the vessels are derived from nature, as in the case of the bamboo shoot-shaped pot shown here, or the Korean melon (Cham-wae) shaped vase here. Other shapes adopted from nature include animal shaped vessels or those with animals as part of their shapes like the turtle decorated incense burner here. The human form is also subtly represented in Korean pottery. The bottles and vases (Ju-byeong, Mae-byeong), represent female and male respectively. The long slender shape of the bottles with a gentle slope at the bottom expresses the voluptuous beauty of femininity, while the wide shoulder and stockiness of the vases, here, displays the masculine form.
Murato Shuko (1422-1503) lived during the brilliant culture of the Muromachi period (1392-1573). Shuko was from Nara and had probably participated in tea gatherings that included popular amusement such as bathing. Later he came in contact with Noami, an artistic advisor of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa who was versed in the procedures of tea as it was served in Kyoto............
Read the entire article 'Tea Ceremony - The History of the Way of Tea' in the Articles section of this site
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Sen Rikyu (1522-1591), the greatest sixteenth century tea master, identified the spirit of the 'Way of Tea' with four basic principles of harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility.
Read this entire article 'Tea Ceremony - By Sen Rikyu (1522-1591)' in the Articles section of this site
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An Explanation by Sen Soshitsu in Tea Life, Tea Mind
"The simple act of serving tea and receiving it with gratitude is the basis for a way of life called Chado, the Way of Tea. When serving a bowl of tea in conformity with Tea etiquette, a cultural synthesis of wide scope and high ideals, is brought into play with aspects of religion, morality, aesthetics, philosophy, discipline, and social relations.
The student of Tea learns to arrange things, to understand timing and interludes, to appreciate social graces, and to apply all of these to daily experience. These things are all brought to bear in the simple process of serving and receiving a bowl of tea, and are done with a single purpose - to realize tranquility of mind in communion with one's fellow men within our world. It is in this that the Way of Tea has meaning for today.
With a bowl of tea, peace can truly spread. The peacefulness from a bowl of tea may be shared and become the foundation of a way of life."
Passage leading to the Rikyudo.
was built by Seno to
enshrine the spirit of Rikyu.
Hideyoshi, after an important military victory in 1578, received permission from Nobunaga to serve tea. A record of a tea gathering at an earlier date mentions that Hideyoshi served tea to Rikyu.
Read this entire article 'Tea Ceremony - Seno on the Spirit of Rikyu. The tea ceremony' in the Articles section of this site
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(pronounced EE SHING)
A History of Teapots
The Need for Teapots
The story of teapots begins with their necessity -- the development of tea and its regular consumption required an efficient, and later an aesthetically pleasing, vessel for brewing and drinking.
There are two legends about the invention of tea.......
Read this entire article 'Tea Ceremony - Yixing Teapots' in the Articles section of this site
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Chinese wedding tea ceremony
China consists of around 84 ethnic groups by some estimates. However, it is 80% Han Chinese. In many parts of China, Chinese tea ceremony for weddings still exists. However, they are slowly dying out as more and more Chinese opt for modernity.
One of the ceremonies that is still being practiced by the Han Chinese is found in the south. Before the wedding, the bride and the bridegroom would gather before the parents and the immediate relatives. They would then kneel in front of these important guests and offer a cup of hot Chinese tea. The type of tea that can be used range from oolong tea to jasmine tea. This ceremony usually take place on the day of the wedding itself. The guests (usually the parents first) would then give their approval to the couple and they would respond by giving them red packets. These red packets contain money to wish the couple a blissful life ahead.
When presenting the tea, one should always present it with both hands and from a kneeling position. The groom would do the honour first, presenting the red packet to the father followed by the mother. The sequence is always male first followed by the female. The guests would be seated on chairs usually draped in red. When the guests receive the tea, they would also receive with both hands.
During the late 16th century the Japanese launched a series of invasions into Korea (ImJinWaeRan) and forcibly relocated many of the Korean artisans to Japan. These transplanted artisans helped to influence the direction and style of Japanese pottery and arts and account for the great similarity between the Korean and Japanese arts.
The History of Korean Celadon
Celadon (Cheong-Ja) - the Stuff of Kings
Though the history of Korean pottery stretches back to the Neolithic age and the rough "Black Comb Pottery" produced by early tribes, the pinnacle of Korean pottery was the development and perfection of celadon (Cheong-Ja) during Korea's Koryo Dynasty.
Aesthetic beauty of Korean celadon:
The aesthetic beauty of the early Koryo celadon lies in its subtle beauty and elegant simplicity. So impressed were the Chinese scholars that they called Koryo celadon one of the 10 treasures of the world, while the Chinese artisans described its color as "beyond description". Though its beauty can hardly be described to someone who has not seen or experienced it in person, the following descriptions by early 20th Century scholars come close.
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The Making of Korean Celadon
The manufacturing process of Korean celadon is a long affair involving at least 10 steps. The first step is to gather the clay; there are several regions in Korea where the special clays used in each type of pottery are gathered from river banks. Each area's clay is said to possess certain qualities essential to the production of fine pottery. Frequently the different clays are mixed to obtain the perfect blend, after which it is prepared for throwing.
Forming and molding are the next steps and are all done by hand unlike ceramic ware which is made in molds. Asymmetrical vessels are turned on a wheel while different shapes are formed by hand or modified after being thrown on a wheel.
Next the inlaid pieces are engraved and inscribed while the plain shapes are not. The inscribed portions are then filled, or in the case of painted works the paint in then applied.
All pieces are then fired. The traditional hand hewn kilns were built on a hill and had a series of small chambers all connected to the main hearth at the base. Each chamber had an access door on the side in which the pottery was put in or removed. After the fire was built in the hearth the heat would rise up through the series of chambers creating the necessary temperature for each type of firing in each of the chambers.
The works are then glazed and given their final firing. The entire process takes days or sometimes weeks and, due to the high level of pride of the artisans the pottery has a very low survival rate. Pieces that do not not meet the artist's standards, are intentionally destroyed at approximately the following rates: 5% in the molding process
15% in decorating
20% in 1st firing
25% in the final glazing.
Bun-Cheong - This is the name of the brown or light brown pottery and, although a misnomer since celadon literally means green, it is sometimes called "brown celadon". For lack of a proper western term for this unique Korean pottery we have called it by either its true name, Bun-cheong, or "brown porcelain" to help distinguish it from the other colors of pottery.
Ceramics have a long and interesting history because it is a medium that combines art and utility. From the richest to the poorest, everyone had ceramics and many created ceramics whether to carry water or as a piece of art to be admired. Ceramic history also offers important information about the development of humans and about the earth and clay that comes from it. By studying the history of ceramics, you can see much of the history of man.
The Wu Wo tea ceremony
This is a style of tea ceremony where drinkers bring their own tea sets and sit in a circle. When the ceremony starts, everyone makes tea using the tea leaves he has brought.. If 4 cups of tea are required, three of the cups will be served to the three poeple on your left and the last cup will be reserved for yourself . when the tea has been drunk, a second infusion will follow. After completing the required number of infusions, gather your own cups and pack up your tea sets. It has come to an end.
This is a ceremony where everyone makes serves and drinks tea. as seating is decided by a random draw. no one knows beforehand who he will serve tea to or whose tea he will be served. This tea ceremony has 7 principles.
1. here is no distinction of social rank
2. There are no expectations of a reward
3. Keep an open mind
4. Adopt a postiive attitude, striving constantly to improve
5. Abide by the rules and the arranged scehdule.
6. Cultivate cooperation
7. There is no differences in sect or region.
Late arrivals are strictly not tolerated.
Wu Wo literally translated means Without self. it is a Buddhist concept, where one who reaches nirvana will not exist in the physical plane anymore.
The Chinese Tea Teremony
There are many types of Chinese tea cups in Chinese tea ceremony:
Firstly, there is the gaibei - or lidded cup.
There is the wen xiang bei - for smelling the fragrance of the tea.
There is also the cha bei, which is the cup for drinking tea from.
And there is the chawan which is the bowl used for drinking tea.
Inca pottery was largely a product of Inca conquests. In Cuzco the Incas brought together the cream of the empire's potters with a view of discovering their trade secrets and expanding production. The presence of two main streams can be detected in Inca pottery: the "Chimú" techniques with "Mochica" reminiscences as in the black ware made by the north-coast potters of Chanchán and Lambayeque.
A higher degree of Inca style is present in the second of the two streams in which the forms and motifs are typically Inca and the style quite distinct from any other. Traces of "Nazca" origins can be detected in the palette used by the potters in the development of a new form: the "aryballos". Used for transporting water, this large globular jar with a conical base which could be implanted in the ground, was carried on the back."