AGE: – Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.)
CONSTRUCTION: – Porcelain/Ceramic
DESCRIPTION: – Ming Dynasty Porcelain Red Underglaze Ewer
HEIGHT: – 28.5cm
WIDTH: – tip of spout to handle (widest part) 18.5cm
BODY DIAM: WIDEST PART – 45.5cm
BASE DIAM: – 8cm
MOUTH RIM DIAM: – 6.5cm
WEIGHT: – 1.05kg
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Ming Dynasty Porcelain Red Underglaze Ewer decorated with foliage referred to as “The Three Friends of winter” with pine, plum and bamboo, all three known to flourish under adverse conditions. The hexagonal shaped body of this ewer flows from the mouth of the ewer to the base, a beautiful shape. There are minuscule chips on the tip of the spout and rim.
The pine tree, plum tree and bamboo are all popular themes in Chinese art and decoration and are symbols of longevity, perseverance and integrity.
The firing techniques for producing under-glaze copper red on porcelain emerged at Changsha in Hunan during the Tang dynasty when it was learnt by accident that different firing temperatures made some porcelain red.
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In the late Yuan period in Jingdezhen under glaze red decoration on porcelain was achieved by using copper oxide pigments. The use of copper pigments had already been used successfully on stone-wares made in earlier periods. However it was not until the Ming dynasty, Xuande period that the art of red under glazing on ceramics was perfected.
The application of under-glaze red on porcelain was a difficult process and took a few hundred years of refinement and experimentation which was eventually achieved through better control of kiln temperatures.
Two difficulties with copper-red pigments was its tendency for the red to darken to a grayish-dark colour, with the red diffusing into the glaze, spoiling the definition of the design. The green seen in some of the close up images of this ewer show a tinge of green, this is rarely seen and is caused by the appearance of higher oxides in an oxidizing kiln atmosphere.
Experiments by researchers into how red under-glaze was created also found out why ancient red under glaze porcelains were no taller than 40 cm. They discovered that red under-glaze could only be made within a specific temperature, with a difference in temperature no more than five degrees Celsius. In traditional kilns the temperatures varied dropping by about ten degrees Celsius for every metre away from the furnace.
The application of red under-glaze required rigid temperature control during the firing process and needed exposure to a flame in order to turn a proper red, and much more difficult to achieve the results seen in many under-glaze blue ceramics.