BLUE GRASS ON YELLOW BEGONIA VASE
This piece is representative of blue and white porcelain wares on yellow ground that first appeared in Xuande Period of the Ming Dynasty (1427 - 1435 A.D.) They were made by the application of yellow glaze on the finished blue and white wares which were then subject to the firing process again . Out of his love for porcelain wares made in the past dynasties, Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 A.D.) ordered that imitations of these wares were made. His mandate remained in force when his son Emperor Yongzhen ascended to the throne. The result of research and refinement was the production of a new yellow glaze. This yellow glaze was applied on blue and white wares and they were known as the famous "Yongzhen Yellow Glazed Fine Blue Wares." The embellishment on this line of porcelain wares consists of the 'twining Indian lotus', which was popular in Yongle Period of Ming Dynasty (1403 - 1424 A.D.). As they appear in appropriate proportions, the yellow and blue create an interesting contrast as well as a harmonious and beautiful presentation.
Pottery was invented by the Chinese as early as 5,000 B.C. However, porcelain was not successfully made until the 10th century. It was even later in 13th century that blue and white porcelain wares first appeared. The pigment for blue and white porcelain is 'cobalt oxide'. It is an under-glaze. The outline of the embellishment is drawn with light and heavy blue lines and the color is washed to lighter shades to contrast the white porcelain. This treatment gives the designs both grace and beauty. Blue and white porcelain comes in many styles, and the designs used include the Indian lotus, human characters, flowers, fruit, dragons, phoenixes, birds, animals, and other patterns. The various emperors of Yuan, Ming, Qing dynasties loved the blue and white porcelain wares, and exquisite items were made by the official kilns for use by the emperors and their family members, and as gifts awarded to the nobility and accredited government officials. Blue and white porcelain wares were also very popular in Europe. From 17th century onwards, European merchants and the Dutch East India Company ordered from China blue and white porcelain wares which conformed with the Western culture and styles. These porcelain wares were sold in Europe and America for high profits. Nowadays these antique blue and white porcelain wares made in Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties are auctioned at very high prices. For example, a blue and white dragon moon flask (10-1/8" high), Yongle, Ming Dynasty was auctioned at the Sotheby's, Hong Kong in November 1986 for HK $7,150,000.00.