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Tang Pottery

Pottery has been produced in China for many centuries, but each dynastic period seemed to have its own popular style of ceramics.  This is certainly true of the Tang dynasty, which lasted from AD 618-906.  Pottery and ceramic production is said to have progressed tremendously during the Tang dynasty, with many new techniques in glazing, firing, and color mixing being developed.  Many pottery pieces from the Tang dynasty were used as tomb figures and furnishings for prominent members of Tang society; this has allowed the historians and archaeologists who have excavated these pieces to learn a great deal about Tang pottery production techniques, colors used, and artistic subjects. 
Tang pottery was a part of the evolution of Chinese porcelain and pottery production, which dates back millennia.  The use of pottery figures as "grave goods" is relatively recent in comparison, and started around 300 B.C.  The Tang dynasty followed the brief Sui dynasty (561-618).  What the Sui dynasty lacked in duration it made up for in innovation, and in this brief period China built many new roads and canals.  With this new infrastructure in place, the rulers of the Tang dynasty were able to expand westwards, coming into contact with new trading partners from Europe and Asia.  The Tang period is also considered a "golden age" during which there was a new focus on art and culture through patronage by the ruling elite, particularly the emperor Xuantong. 

Tang pottery introduced several new techniques, including the use of the "sancai" which were three-colored glazes with a lead-silicate base.  The colors were basic variations of brown, greens, and blues: blues were produced by adding cobalt oxide to a transparent glaze, greens by adding copper oxide, and browns by adding iron oxide.  The brown glazes had the widest color range, ranging from light yellow to orange and deep brown.  

Tang pottery was also heavily influenced by the societies that Chinese traders and diplomats came into contact with.  Shapes and patterns from Central Asia, Persia, Greece, and India were blended together with traditional Chinese subjects; ewer pitchers, for example, appeared with Chinese characters and patterns painted on them.  Saddled horses, three-colored camels, dancers, and warriors were also produced: these figures were included in the tomb so that they could serve the deceased in the afterlife.  Many Tang pottery pieces were hand sculpted or were built using different pieces of clay, while pitchers and other vessels were thrown on the traditional potter's wheel. 

While genuine Tang dynasty pieces are mostly confined to museums and are rarely found for sale, a new industry has developed using the Tang style to produce new pieces. These pieces allow collectors and art aficionados to experience the bright colors, unique styles, and fantastic subjects that were prominent in China more than 1,100 years ago.


Chinese Dynasties The Great Wall of China
The Forbidden City The Terracotta Army
Dragon & Phoenix ~ Silk Embroidery
Silk Embroidery
Gold Leaf Painted ~ 10 Inch Turnip Vase
Gold Leaf Lacquer
Pair of 10 Inch Closionne Vases
Pair of Brass Foo Dogs
Brass & Bronze
Inside Painted Boxes

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