Blue and white ceramics are white porcelain that have patterns in blue cobalt-based glaze added and then are covered with a clear glaze, a technique known as underglaze blue. The technique prospered in Jingdezhen, China during the Yuan dynasty (1271 - 1368) and was introduced to Vietnam towards the end of the Tran dynasty (1225 - 1400). In Japan, Vietnamese blue and white ceramics are also known as Annan-yaki underglaze blue.
Initially reflecting the large influence of Chinese blue and white ceramics, the Vietnamese soon established their own distinctive style. From the 15th through the 16th century, large quantities of Vietnamese blue and white ceramics were exported to Indonesia and the Philippines. The hue of the porcelain is off-white, giving it a soft feeling, and the somewhat dull contrast between the blue and white areas is considered a special feature. Graceful and willowy brushstrokes form soft and elegant patterns, unlike the sharpness of Chinese blue and white porcelain. The blue and white ceramics from this time feature a blurred design, called shiboride in Japanese. At the start of the 17th century, as the amount of porcelain exported gradually decreased, artisans turned to making large candleholders and incense burners.
Courtesy of Tokyo National Museum