Pater Gratia Oriental Art

Chinese Porcelain


Blanc de Chine 1600-1900


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The white, undecorated blanc de Chine with its ivory-grey or creamy-white glaze on a thick, pure-white body was produced in kilns in and around Dehua in southern China. Since the late 16th century, potters there specialised in figures of animals and Chinese Immortals, especially of Guanyin, the patroness of women, poor people and fishermen. Unusually for Chinese depictions of women, Guanyin has bare feet. Occasionally figures of Europeans were made, sometimes riding a mythical animal, and even statues of Mary and Child or Mary and a monk are known. Apart for export, these figures might also have served as curiosities or 'Western exotics' for Chinese collectors. Figures and other items such as teapots, covered boxes and vases were made in moulds. Interesting are the so-called libation cups, modelled after examples made from rhinoceros horn. The rough surface and sometimes even the imprint of the potter's fingers can be seen on the inside of hollow figures. Decorations in relief, for instance of plum blossom, are hardly detailed. It is the thick, shiny glaze emphasising the simple form that makes blanc de Chine so attractive. In particular on figures, blanc de Chine may have a potter's or workshop mark. Blanc de Chine was much in demand in Europe as an exotic curiosity and figures were often overdecorated locally in black or red cold paint. Blanc de Chine figures are still being made in Dehua, often using the traditional techniques.

Currently there are no Blanc de Chine wares for sale.