Relationships between Korean,Chinese and Japanese "China"
"China" or "chinawares" was coined by the Dutch who were the early importers of Oriental porcelain. I don't believe they really differentiated between Japan, China, Korean or any other oriental race. It was simply "chinaman" if you looked a certain way. It has long been believed that the origin of "china" started in China. But there have been much earlier instances of fired ceramic products. One of the early originators of fine pottery and ceramics was Korea who had ties with China and the Japanese were not far behind the Chinese and freely borrowed, hired (or stole) artists and techniques from both China and Korea. It is believed that Korean potters first discovered the necessary clay for making fine china in Japan in the 16th century.
It should be noted that the history ( and success) of fine china and pottery production has always been dependant upon the right materials for making these products. The English china industry took some time to catch up to the rest of the world in this area due to the lack of the right clays and additives needed.
Once found in Japan, these materials allowed Japan to compete and rival the best of Chinese porcelain and although borrowing ideas and styles from the Chinese Ming dynasty they soon developed their own style and techniques.
The history of oriental "china" and porcelain is intertwined with all three nations. Korea, China and Japan.
Three Kingdoms Pottery
The Three Kingdoms of Korea (57 BC-668 AD), namely Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje, provided the beginning of Korean ceramic history. Rough domestic wares for the people were produced from numerous kilns. Likewise a number of very sophisticated statues of royal figures, guardians, and horses, equivalent to Chinese Han Dynasty figures, used for domestic and imperial votive shrines, as well as for escorts of the dead in tombs of the nobles and kings, were turned on potter's wheels, while others were formed using the traditional hammered clay and coil method.
Silla Era Pottery
During the Unified Silla period (668–935) pottery was simple in colour, shape, and design. Celadon was subsequently the main production, with baekja porcelain wares developing slowly in the 14th century, when the pace accelerated with new glazes, better clays, and surprising variations of the white of different clays. The kilns at the time had to compete with Chinese wares on a variety of social levels. The Korean ceramic masters decided to distinguish Korean baekja or white porcelain from Chinese imports by maintaining simplicity in design when the practical problems of finding pure white glazes were solved. Dating of glazes from this era has revealed a celadon or jade patina beneath white glazes.
Baekja wares came from highly refined white clay, glazed with feldspar, and fired in large carefully regulated and very clean kilns. Despite the refining process, glazes in white colours always vary as a result of the properties of the clay itself; firing methods were not uniform, temperatures varied and glazes on pieces vary from pure white, in an almost snowy thickness, through milky white that shows the clay beneath deliberately in washed glaze, to light blue and light yellow patinas. The baekja wares reached their zenith immediately before the Joseon Dynasty came to power. Fine pieces have recently been found in the area about Wolchil Peak in the Diamond Mountains. The transitional wares of white became expressions of the Joseon Dynasty celebrations of victory in many pieces decorated with Korean calligraphy. Traditionally white wares were used by both the scholarly Confucian class, the nobility, and royalty on more formal occasions.Simultaneously, the Buddhist traditions demanded celadon-glazed wares, and cheongja pieces of celadon porcelain with more organic shapes drawing on gourds, with animal and bird motifs that evolved very quickly. In some ways these were over-decorated wares, using exaggerated forms, stylized repeating designs, and a wide variety of organic patterns.
Cheongja wares used refined earth clays with a bit of iron powder added, then a glaze with a bit of added iron powder added once again, then fired. The glaze dried to a hard finish and was duable with a slightly shinier and glossier finish, in an oily way, than whitewares.
The Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392) achieved the unification of the Later Three Kingdoms under King Taejo. The works of this period are considered by some to be the finest small-scale works of ceramics in Korean history. Key-fret, foliate designs, geometric or scrolling flowerhead bands, elliptical panels, stylized fish and insects, and the use of incised designs began at this time. Glazes were usually various shades of celadon, with browned glazes to almost black glazes being used for stoneware and storage. Celadon glazes could be rendered almost transparent to show black and white inlays.
While the forms generally seen are broad-shouldered bottles, larger low bowls or shallow smaller bowls, highly decorated celadon cosmetic boxes, and small slip-inlaid cups, the Buddhist potteries also produced melon-shaped vases, chrysanthemum cups often of spectacularly architectural design on stands with lotus motifs and lotus flower heads. In-curving rimmed alms bowls have also been discovered similar to Korean metalware. Wine cups often had a tall foot which rested on dish-shaped stands.
Joseon Dynasty Ceramics
During the Joseon Dynasty, (1392–1910) ceramic ware was considered to represent the highest quality of achievement from imperial, city, and provincial kilns, the last of which were export-driven wares. This was the golden age of Korean pottery, with a long period of growth in imperial and provincial kilns, and much work of the highest quality still preserved.
Wares evolved along Chinese lines in terms of colour, shape, and technique. Celadon, white porcelain, and storage pottery were similar, but with slight variations in glazes, incision designs, florality, and weight. The Ming influence in blue and white wares using cobalt-blue glazes existed, but without the pthalo blue range, and the three-dimensional glassine colour depth of Ming Dynasty Chinese works.
Simplified designs emerged early on. Buddhist designs still prevailed in celadon wares: lotus flowers, and willow trees. The form most often seen was that of pear-shaped bottles. Notable were thinner glazes, and colourless glazes for buncheong or stoneware. After the prolonged fall of the Ming dynasty, immigration of some Chinese master potters occurred in southern coastal Korea. Qing colouring, brighter and almost Scythian in enamel imitation, was rejected by Korean potters, in favour of simpler, less decorated wares in keeping with a new dynasty that built itself on military tradition.
Generally, the ceramics of this dynasty is divided into early, middle, and late periods, changing every two centuries, approximately; thus 1300 to 1500 is the early period, 1500 to 1700 the middle, and 1700 to 1900–1910 the late period. The wares began to assume more traditional Korean glazes and more specific designs to meet regional needs. This is to be expected, as the Scythian art influences were of the former dynasty. The rise of white porcelain occurred as a result of Confucian influence and ideals, resulting in purer, less pretentious forms lacking artifice and complexity.
Nearly all exports of Korean ceramics went to Japan, and most were from provincial coastal kilns, especially in the Busan area. Export occurred in two ways: either through trading and the voluntary immigration of potters, or through outright invasion and theft of pottery and the forced relocation to Japan of families of potters who made the wares when the first method failed.The method of sending paper models of ceramics to Japan, having them approved and then having them manufactured began in the late 17th century, most often for the masters of Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Central to Korean success were the chambered climbing kilns that were used throughout the Joseon dynasty and exported abroad, especially to Japan by Korean kiln-makers where they were renamed as noborigama in the Karatsu area from the 17th century on.Today most kilns used are electric kilns with computer controlled switchoffs, replacing first generation electric kilns with ceramic cones used as timers. There are, however, also artists using gas-fired kilns.
Porcelain is generally believed to have originated in China. Although proto-porcelain wares exist, dating from the Shang Dynasty, by the Eastern Han Dynasty (100-200 CE) high firing glazed ceramic wares had developed into porcelain, and porcelain manufactured during the Tang Dynasty period (618–906) was exported to the Islamic world where it was highly prized. The principle ingredients of Chinese porcelain was a white clay known as 'kaolin' and 'petunse' , a feldspatic rock (see "China FAQ on feldspathic or felspathic") .Early porcelain of this type was a hard paste porcelain with a feldspathic glaze as well, which fused with the body becoming an integral part of it. The fusion made for a perfect surface. When glazed over an already bisquited (fired once) hard paste this fusion produced a slightly pitted surface often called 'chicken skin'.This includes the tri-color glazed porcelain, or sancai wares. Historian S.A.M. Adshead writes that true porcelain items in the restrictive sense that we know them today could be found in dynasties after the Tang,during the Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty, and Qing Dynasty.
By the Sui and Tang dynasties, porcelain had become widely produced. Eventually, porcelain and the expertise required to create it began to spread into other areas; by the seventeenth century, it was being widely imported to Europe. It is said that Marco Polo brought the first porcelain back to Europe from his famed expeditions and filled the heads of kings and alchemists with dreams of discovering it's secrets.
Chinese porcelain (and other items as well) are usually dated as to the dynasty ( usually named after the reigning emperor)they originated in.
1- The Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 220)
The body was a grey stoneware over which a slip (liquid clay mixture, feldspathic)of transparent whitish glaze was washed. Named 'tzu' which refers to the material's resonance not it's translucency. In the West it has been termed 'proto-porcelain'. These wares tended to imitate the decoration and appearance of metal wares with patinated bronze, greens and reddish-browns, with decoration incised or combed and added in relief.
2 - The Six Dynasties (AD 220 - v589)
This was when 'kaolin' and china stone or 'petunse' was discovered. These were the only ingredients capable of producing the white body so necessary for true porcelain.
3 - T'ang Dynasty (AD 618 - 906)
This was when the first translucent (allows light to pass through but cannot be seen through) porcelain was made. A fine white body was made with a thick glaze which ran down the sides of the pot where it formed into 'teardrops' when it stopped short of the bottom. A common technique of firing these wares was to place them on a bed of sand hence forming the pebbled bottom with embedded grains of sand.
4 - Sung Dynasty (AD960 - 1279)
5 - Ming (1368 - 1644)
6 - Ch'ing Dynasty (or Manchu) (1644 - 1912)
There are sub dynasties here such as;
K'ang-hsi (1662 - 1722)
Yung-cheng (1723 - 1735)
Ch'ien Lung (1736 - 1795)
Tao Kuang (1821 - 1850)
The earliest japanese production in china or porcelain wares was Kakiemon and Imari.
Imari was simply the trans-shipment port for Arita wares. The kilns at Arita formed the heart of the Japanese porcelain industry, which developed in the 17th century, after the white kaolin clay was discovered in 1616 by abducted Korean potter Yi Sam-pyeong (1579–1655). Yi Sam-pyeong was kidnapped along with several thousand other Korean artisans by Japanese invaders during the Japanese invasions of Korea of 1592–1598. Arita soon came to rival the output of the Chinese kilns at Ching-te-Chen. Blue-and-white porcelain made at Arita was also widely exported to Europe through the Dutch East India Company, but "Imari porcelain" connotes Arita wares more specifically designed to catch the European taste.
Though sophisticated wares in authentic Japanese styles were being made at Arita for the fastidious home market. European export porcelains imitated Chinese underglaze blue decors (blue-and-white wares) or made use of enamel colors over underglazes of cobalt blue and iron red. The ware often used copious gilding, sometimes with spare isolated sprigged vignettes, but often densely patterned in compartments. There were two quite different styles in these wares. On the one hand a gaudy, brash brightly coloured and highly decorated style, the "Imari" style. The other ,"Kakiemon" is sometimes used as a generic term describing wares made in the Arita factories using the characteristic Kakiemon overglaze enamels and decorative styles Kakiemon decoration is usually of high quality, delicate and with asymmetric well-balanced designs.
Imari porcelain is the European collectors' name for Japanese porcelain wares made in the town of Arita, in the former Hizen Province, northwestern Kyūshū, and exported from the port of Imari, Saga, specifically for the European export trade.Early experiments with overglaze colored enamels at Arita are associated with the famous Sakaida Kakiemon (1596–1666), whose name is memorialized in "Kakiemon" ware, the other main tradition in enamel decors. Dutch traders had a monopoly on the insatiable export trade, the first large order being placed at Arita by the Dutch East India Company in 1656. The trade peaked in the late 17th century and was slowly replaced by Chinese kilns in the early 18th century, as social conditions in China settled with the full establishment of the Qing Dynasty. Very fine "Chinese Imari" export wares were produced in the 18th century, eclipsing the original Japanese exports.
Chinese Imari patterns, as well as "Kakiemon" designs and palette of colors, influenced some early Orientalizing wares produced by the porcelain manufactories at Meissen, or later at Vincennes. Imari has always been popular with Romany women.European centers imitated the style of "Imari" wares, initially in faience at Delft in Holland, and in the early 19th century at Robert Chamberlain's factory at Worcester.
From the mid-17th century, Kakiemon wares were produced at the factories of Arita, Saga Prefecture, Japan with much in common with the Chinese "Famille Verte" style. The superb quality of its enamel decoration was highly prized in the West and widely imitated by the major European porcelain manufacturers.In 1971 it was declared an important "intangible cultural treasure" by the Japanese government.
There exist other Japanese ceramic arts. The most known are Imari, Arita Blue & White, Fukugawa, Kutani, Banko Earthenware and Satsuma pottery.
The Japanese potter Kakiemon Sakaida (1596-1666) is popularly credited with being one of the first in Japan to discover the secret of enamel decoration on porcelain, known as 'Akae'. The name "Kakiemon" was bestowed by his overload on Sakaida, who had perfected a design of twin persimmons (kaki: persimmon) and who then developed the distinctive palette of soft red, yellow, bleu and turquoise green. Kakiemon is sometimes used as a generic term describing wares made in the Arita factories using the characteristic Kakiemon overglaze enamels and decorative styles. However, authentic Kakiemon porcelains have been produced by direct descendants, now Sakaida Kakiemon XIV (1934-). Shards from the Kakiemon kiln site at Nangawara show that blue and white and celadon wares were also produced.
Kakiemon decoration is usually of high quality, delicate and with asymmetric well-balanced designs. These were sparsely applied to emphasize the fine white porcelain background body known in Japan as NIGOSHIDE (milky white) which was used for the finest pieces. Kakiemon wares are usually painted with birds, flying squirrels, the "Quail and Millet" design, the "Three Friends of Winter" (pine, prunus and bamboo), flowers (especially the chrysanthemum, the national flower of Japan) and figural subjects such as the popular "Hob in the Well", illustrating a Chinese folk tale where a sage saves his friend who has fallen into a large fishbowl. However, because manufacture of NIGOSHIDE is difficult due to hard contraction of the porcelain body during firing, the production was discontinued from the former part of the 18th century to mid-20th century. In this period, Sakaida Kakiemon produced normal 'Akae' wares. Sakaida Kakiemon XII and XIII attempeted to reproduce NIGOSHIDE and succeeded in 1953. It has been manufactured till now.
Kakiemon in Europe
The Kakiemon porcelain was imported into Europe. Augustus the Strong of Saxony and Mary II of England both owned examples. The earliest inventory to include Japanese porcelain in Europe was made at Burghley House, Lincolnshire, in 1688. These included a fabulous standing elephant with its trunk raised and a model of two wrestlers. Wares included bowls, dishes and plates, often hexagonal, octagonal or fluted with scalloped edges. The famed white "nigoshide" body was only used with open forms, and not for closed shapes such as vases, bottles and teapots, or for figures and animals. The hexagonal Kamiemon vases and covers known as "Hampton Court" vases were named after a pair at Hampton Court Palace, London, recorded in an inventory of 1696. Around 1730, this shape was copied at Meissen, Germany, which entered into a "sister city" contract with Arita, in 1979. The style was also adopted and copied in Chelsea and Worcester in the 1750's and by Samson Ceramics in the 19th century.
The Kakiemon porcelain proved a major influence on the new porcelain factories of the 18th-century Europe. Meissen copies could be extremely close to the originals, alternatively the factory painters might just have borrowed designs and use them with other shapes and styles.
Kakiemon style was also adapted in Germany and Austria by the Du Paquier and "Vienna factories" and in France at Chantilly, Mennecy and Saint-Cloud. Kakiemon was also an influence on Dutch Delft pottery and Chinese export porcelain.