The wucai porcelain is a kind of overglaze decoration porcelain which is made by firing the already-fired plain base painted with some colorful patterns in the colourful kiln with 770 – 800 degrees Celsius. It features rich colors, with red, yellow, green, blue, purple etc as the basic hue. Because it has clear lines and the firing temperature is slightly higher than that of famille rose, and the colour not so soft, it is also called “yingcai” (literally, hard color).
Wucai is a new variety of the Jingdezhen Kiln during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. As blue paint did not exist in the Ming Dynasty, blue-and-white took the place where blue color should be presented, hence the name “blue-and-white wucai”. It then became a feature peculiar to the age, with wucai in the Jiajing and Wanli Periods as the representatives.
The Wucai fired in Kangxi’s reign is the most well-known among all those in the Qing Dynasty. Other than red, green, yellow, brown and purple paints, overglaze blue was newly made to replace underglaze blue-and-white, and golden and black paints were also extensively applied, which added resplendence and flamboyance to its color.
|Ming dynasty, Jiajing mark and period (1522-1566)|
Porcelain painted in underglaze blue and overglaze polychrome enamels; H. 9 1/8 in. (23.2 cm)
The ascendancy of polychrome enamel decoration over other ornamental techniques seen in porcelains of the Jiajing period could represent an attempt to compensate for the low quality of potting by making an ambitious display of color. Ceramic painters were adept and imaginative with their palette of enamels and sought to achieve a maximum number of effects.
An important innovation of the Jiajing period, the so-called wucai ("five-color") decoration, was one of the last major additions to the lexicon of ornamental techniques developed during the Ming dynasty, Despite its name, the number of colors in wucai decoration is not strictly limited to five. Wucai, like doucai, is a combination of underglaze blue and overglaze polychrome enamels. However, where the soft underglaze blue of doucai was primarily used for dainty outline that laid the groundwork for elegant little washes of pale enamel colors, the dark blue of wucai was applied in bold washes to complement vigorous splashes of strong overglaze colors, and outlining was mostly done in overglaze red, brown, or black.
Fish in water weeds are a popular Jiajing wucai motif. The fish form a rebus: the Chinese word yu ("fish") is pronounced much like yu ("abundant"), and the pun symbolizes the wish for wealth.
|An Imperial Wucai Porcelain Dragon-Phoenix Bowl, China |
|A fine 'Wucai' 'Immortals' bowl.|
By Explore Cultural China
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