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
Tang pottery was a part of the evolution of Chinese
porcelain and pottery production, which dates back
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.
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.
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
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.
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.