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Ming Dynasty Blue and White Collection: Beware of the “Black Three Generations”

In the collection of Blue and white pottery of the Ming Dynasty, there is a forbidden area for “three generations of black porcelain”. That is to say, the blue and white porcelain produced by the official kilns of the orthodox, Jingtai and Tianshun dynasties are almost all imitations of the Republic of China, which should be paid more attention in collection. Although it can be seen from the literature records that blue and white porcelain was fired in both official and civilian kilns during this period, and there are a large number of them, there is no official porcelain of the same model among the handed down products, and all the porcelain is produced in civilian kilns. Even so, because there are many differences between the blue and white porcelain of the three dynasties and the blue and white porcelain of Xuande, the Ming Dynasty, many of which are difficult to identify, and many of which are fakes, the academic world is known as the “blank period” and the “black three generations”.


The “blank period” of blue and white official kilns is due to more than 30 years of political turmoil in orthodox, Jingtai and Tianshun, which has affected the economic production. In addition, the porcelain category is the projection of the emperor’s hobby, and the use of new technologies such as Cloisonné has affected the production of official kilns. Rare things are precious, and it is precisely because of this that collectors have set the ultimate goal of collecting Ming blue and white flowers from the “Black Three Generations”.


The “Black Three Dynasties” folk kiln blue and white ware is mainly distinguished and appreciated from four aspects: first, the type of the ware. Data shows that during this period, there were objects with seats, which is a retro representation of the Yuan Dynasty style. Common types of utensils include jars, bottles, bowls, dishes, furnaces, etc., mostly from civilian kilns. The mouth of a jar is similar in shape to that of Xuande during the orthodox period, while the mouth of Jingtai to Tianshun period is similar in shape to that of Chenghua period.


Secondly, there is the fetal glaze, which is white with a shimmering blue color, bright and vitrified, often with a watery blue color and very little greasy white, and some with a sauce colored glaze mouth. In the Tian Shun Dynasty, the glaze was fine and smooth, with a smooth and smooth surface, and most utensils had a warm and smooth glaze base. During this period, the colorants were mainly domestic green materials with low iron content, and occasionally works mixed with Su Ma Li Qing were seen. The blue and white hair color discovered is rich and colorful, with cobalt iron spots in the heavily colored areas.


The last is decoration and entertainment. The Blue and white pottery of this period mostly used a common stippling technique in the Yuan Dynasty and early Ming Dynasty, which was simple and orderly, rough and elegant, casual and frank in style, simple and clear in picture layout. Common content includes character stories, merchant Yishi, immortal mountain pavilions, music, chess, calligraphy, and painting. Peacock peonies, tangled lotus chrysanthemums, pine plums, bamboo clouds, dragons, and unicorns are common decorative patterns in this period, with banana leaves, lotus petals, and water waves being common auxiliary decorative patterns. In addition, the glaze layer of porcelain during this period was relatively thick, and the blue and white patterns appeared hazy and unclear. The color of the blue and white was occasionally scattered. In terms of style, the “Da Ming Ming Shun Nian” chronological style commonly seen in handed down products should be a fake entrusted style from the Jiajing, Wanli, Tianqi, and Chongzhen periods. In the folk kiln, there are two lines and six characters of the “Da Ming Shun Nian Zhi” or “Da Ming Ming Shun Nian Zhi” artifacts with the Tian Shun model year, which should be imitated by the Republic of China.

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