Appendix 2  Coherence between Chinese painting and the decoration of underglaze porcelain           dcl-CARD Research Report


I. The origin of Chinese painting


Art is part of culture whose development fosters art advancement. The art of Chinese painting didn’t have exact historical record of origin era, but excavation of painted pottery from the Neolithic Age proved art existence 5000 years ago in China.


Afterward, Chinese art advanced greatly through Shang (1600B.C. - 1066B.C.), Zhou (1066B.C - 221B.C.), Qin (221B.C. - 206B.C.), and Han (206B.C.–220 A.D.) dynasties. It showed that painting art had reached high level and maturity on silk painting from Chang-sha and excavated wall painting from tomb of Han dynasty.  The paintings presented dense composition, changeful symmetry, slim line, smooth curve, and dynamic figures. 


After Eastern Han dynasty (25 A.D. – 220 A.D.), Buddhism was introduced into China and influenced painting style. Vital painting spirit was flourishing after shifting the culture of Han clan to the South in Eastern Jin dynasty (317–420). Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-581) was in the turmoil of war, so people relied upon Buddhism and created many Buddhist painting art, such as Long-men stone carving and Dunhuang wall painting.


II. Dunhuang wall painting and Chinese painting history


Dunhuang is located in the gateway of the East and the West. Through frequently contact with the Occident had influenced painting in Northern Wei dynasty (386-534), when the figures of Buddhist painting were drawn with undressed body, bold style, diffusion skill, and lighting to highlight modeling. After Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties, painting skill drifted toward Chinese typical drawing skill, which depicts cubby face, modest expression, and smooth lines. Besides, landscape painting of Dunhuang Buddhist wall painting performed cloudy mountain and trees since Western Wei dynasty (535-557), especially increasing after late Tang dynasty (618-907) and Five Dynasties (907-960). The wall painting was gradually adding other life factors, such as officer, civilian, traveler, pavilion, jobs, and joyful dance.


Dunhuang wall painting is only a partial of Chinese painting history, but it comprised a wide range of dynasties and contents, such as methods, composition, and subjects. The wall painting had lasted to Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) since Eastern Jin dynasty (317-439), and covered all sort of classification, involving painting of figure, landscape, bird or flower. Besides, it helped a lot for era judgment of Chinese painting.  It can be judged from name and year of believer or painting style that divided into different stages, painting style developments, and art systems.


III. Ink painting and underglaze porcelain


Figure painting had always been the mainstream subject of Chinese painting; however, landscape painting was springing up from Tang dynasty (618-907) and ruling in Northern Song dynasty (960-1127). Landscape symbolizes Mother Nature in the cultural background of Chinese history, particularly in the philosophy of Laozi and Zhuang zi. The philosophy advocated returning to nature and flinging into painting of far-reaching mountain, drifting cloud and vast ocean.


Ink states a very important position in Chinese ink painting. The use of ink is more difficult than the use of brush-pen. The following are the illustration of different methods of using ink, comprising ink amassment, ink permeation, ink splashing, and ink rubbing.


A.             Ink amassment


In order to express natural and powerful style of mountain, stone, or tree, artists used light ink for groundwork and then added multiple layers of ink one by one after drying. The ink amassment of separating multi-layer ink is the excellent skill of artists, such as Gong Xian and Wang Yuan-qi of Qing dynasty (1644-1911), Xiao Qian-zhong and Huang Bing-hong of modern time.


B.             Ink permeation


Stone was drawn with light ink first and added dark ink dot or light ink on the wet ink. The ink will naturally permeate and dissolve together. The creation of complex ink color is called ink permeation. Shi Tao and Ba-da-shan-ren from early Qing dynasty (1644-1911) were excelled in this method.


C.             Ink splashing


Painting was first splashed with abundant ink of dark and light tone, and left for natural permeation and blending. Afterward, slightly strengthening the painting scene and varied with dry inkblot. The ink splashing presents chiefly dark and light ink spots. The contemporary master of Chinese painting, Zhang Da-qian, was good at ink and color splashing. His art pieces display bold and modern sensation.


D.            Ink rubbing


Ink rubbing is new skill applied by modern artist of ink painting. The skill is using paper or other materials to make ink rubbing from objects. It also can be rubbing from creasy objects or coarse wood and stone. Moreover, artists were pouring dark ink into water basin and putting India paper on the water surface of spreading ink in order to catch fluid ink mark. Artists created different impressions by applying with many different ways of ink rubbing technique, including ink dropping, ink spraying, rubbing, vitriol spotting, color applying, etc.


The first Chinese doctor for ceramics, Xiong Liao mentioned that the brushwork in Yuan (1279-1368) and middle Ming (1368-1644) dynasties was called Tuo-sui method which was applied on underglaze porcelain. While drawing on unglazed clay body, strong stroke took away powder on clay and made clay easy to sink.


In middle and late Ming dynasty, Tuo-sui method was gradually replaced by Fen-sui method, which was also called Hun-sui method and was thriving in Kang-xi period (1662-1722) of Qing dynasty. The Fen-sui method is that contour was filled up with high-class pigment which contains 82 to 96 percents of water. In order to create impression of Chinese ink painting under flat glaze surface after firing, the clay surface was painted with pigment without touch of brush. The color gradation is divided into five levels, or even nine levels. It is like five levels of ink color in Chinese ink painting, so decorations of underglaze porcelains differentiate from Chief Dark, Pure Dark, Secondary Dark, Pure Light, and Shadowy Light.


IV. Chinese painting and underglaze porcelain in Yuan and Ming dynasties


The most distinguish underglaze porcelains were decorated with figure stories, such as “General Meng-tian” and “Yu-chi Gong rides to rescue his master”. Decoration on underglaze porcelains was as Chinese painting, which focuses on figures and adorn with patterns, comprising mountain, stone, plantain, pine, bamboo, plum, flower scrolls, and billows.


The design and brushwork of Yuan dynasty had the same feature and styles, no matter those are in underglaze porcelains or in Chinese painting. Artist in Yuan dynasty placed importance on artistic conception of painting created by brush and ink. There are specific brushworks, including depiction of figures and dress, brushwork of bamboo, willow, rocky mountain, and pine tree, gradation of dotting, or distance scene. It can be apprehended with paintings of Luo-han in red by Zhou Meng-fu, wonderland by Shen Mao, or ink bamboo of Qing-bi pavilion by Ke Jiu-si. 


Decoration of pine tree on underglaze porcelains in Yuan dynasty tended to be realistic expression, involving trunk, bark, and close pine needles. Decoration of upstanding bamboo joints were mostly drawn with one stroke and a mat of four to five upward leaves were piled up cumulatively. While painting flowers, variation of shades didn’t achieve perfection on porcelain clay as on paper which is flat and has absorbency of ink. Thus, outline of flower petals was drawn with dark pigment and left white rim beneath contour before painting petals. These drawing techniques became common features, even the decorations of peony and lotus scrolls on underglaze porcelains in Yuan dynasty (1279-1368).


Design on underglaze-blue porcelains was vivid and lively on account of distinguish painting features and impression of painting pigment (Su-ma-li blue) from underglaze-blue porcelains in Yuan dynasty.  However, artists of underglaze-blue porcelains were not as good as artists of Chinese painting in Yuan dynasty, who possessed dashing brushwork on pine tree, mountainous stone, and bamboo.  Accordingly, it goes without saying that artists of underglaze-blue porcelains furthered their imagination and blended in Chinese painting features into porcelain design.


Picture originated from “Bamboo” by Ke Jiu-si of Yuan dynasty, Complete Collection of Jie-zi Garden painting, Tainan: Li-da, 1985, p.28.

Picture originated from “Short Pi-ma Cun Method”, Complete Collection of Jie-zi Garden painting, Tainan: Li-da, 1985, p.27.

Picture originated from “Mix Depict Method”, Complete Collection of Jie-zi Garden painting, Tainan: Li-da, 1985, p.249.



Collection of Museum in Hu-nan province.

Picture originated from “Figure 181: Pear-shape bottle with underglaze-blue decoration of figure from Jingdezhen kiln” by Wang, Qing-zheng. Chinese Ceramics 11-Yuan, Part II, Taipei County: Ji-Nian, Jun. 2000, p.165.

Collection of dcl-Chinese Antique Research Department.

Mountainous stone was drawn by Cun method, which is the artful expression of the grain of mountainous stone after observation and studies by ancient artists of Chinese painting. The two porcelains on the pictures display “Pi-ma and Fu-pi Cun method”, which applies quadrate round and middle-size stroke on mountainous stone.

Collection of dcl-Chinese Antique Research Department.

Collection of dcl-Chinese Antique Research Department.

Mix Depict Method was applied on dress decoration and used light ink of large stokes painting dress with skillful contour. As well, arrow-shape bamboo leaves were drawn with a branch as a unit. Drawing method of bamboo joint used joint marking method, which highlights white bamboo knots by marking two ink dots of same tone at two sides of each joint.


The first emperor of Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Zhu Yuan-Zhang, overthrew the Mongolian governance, and followed rules in Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) that arranging artists working for court, in spite of rebuilding painting agency as in Song dynasty (960-1279). From Xuan-de reign (1426-1435) to Hong-zi reign (1488-1505) of Ming dynasty, painting from court was thriving due to stable regime and emperor’s interest and promotion. Artist from that period aimed at pursuing artistic conception of brushwork or highlighting vigorousness and power by sophisticated strokes or powerful turns.


The most distinguish creation of Court painting in Ming dynasty is flowers and birds painting. Bian Wen-jin (Alias: Jin Zhou) is the most influential artist of flowers and birds painting in painting agency of Ming dynasty. He had characteristics of realistic style, neat outline, and brilliant color. He also focused on features of flowers and birds, especially on delicate expression of actions. “Three friends and hundred birds painting” is his representative work.

Yong-le (1403-1424) and Xuan-de (1426-1435) reigns of early Ming dynasty were also the prosperity of underglaze porcelains. Flowers and birds decorations were often seen on underglaze porcelains in this period, and mostly applied on large dish, flask, and so on. Those paintings on underglaze porcelains had orderly drawing, which differentiate from ordinary artisan, due to flowers and birds paintings of painting agency in early Ming dynasty and emperor’s interest. The formerly Chinese painting style reflected connection with decoration of underglaze porcelains. 


Collection of the Palace Museum.

Picture originated from “Figure 309: Flask with underglaze-blue decoration of clouds and dragon from Xuan-de reign of Ming dynasty” by Li Hui-bing. Appraisement Foundations of Chinese Porcelain, Beijing: Forbidden City, 2001, p.207.

Collection of dcl-Chinese Antique Research Department.

Collection of dcl-Chinese Antique Research Department.

Collection of dcl-Chinese Antique Research Department.

Decoration of clouds and dragon used small brush to outline before painting with color, and presented smooth lines that were slimmer than decorations of underglaze porcelains in Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). The stem was drawn with one upright stroke for decoration of flower scrolls and with round turns. The decoration of dragon in Ming dynasty (1368-1644) presented inflexible drawing and differentiates from daring features of dragon decoration in Yuan dynasty because of specification and simplicity of painting in Ming dynasty.

V. Conclusion


Decoration of underglaze porcelains is under the impression as Chinese painting by porcelain material. No matter painting of figures or landscapes were seen on underglaze porcelains. Even though expression was restricted by clay, pigment, glaze, high temperature, and coarser representation, there is close relationship of painting style between underglaze porcelains and Chinese painting in each period. It provided very important proof and reference for judging production era or appraisement of antique porcelains.


VI. References


1.      Su, Ying-hui. “Building image of history – Dunhuang wall painting in the position of Chinese Painting history” The National Palace Museum Monthly of Chinese Art No.2, Vol. 1, Issue 2, Taipei: Yu-tai, May 1983, 30-45.

2.      Wang, Yao-ting. “Development of Chinese Painting through painting collection in the National Palace Museum” The National Palace Museum Monthly of Chinese Art No.39, Vol. 4, Issue 3, Taipei: Yu-tai, Jun.1986, 14-31.

3.      Gao, Mu-sen. “The era meaning of the beauty of artistic conception” The National Palace Museum Monthly of Chinese Art No.132, Vol. 11, Issue 12. Taipei: National Palace Museum, Mar.1994, 26-39.

4.      Chow, Chian-chiu/ Leung, Chen-ying. Chinese Painting- A Comprehensive Guide, Taipei: Art Book, Sep.1986, p.13.

5.      Li-da Press Desk. “Ink bamboo by Ke Jiu-si of Yuan dynasty” Complete Collection of Jie-zi Garden painting, Tainan: Li-da, 1985, p.27.

6.      Li-da Press Desk. “ Bamboo by Ke Jiu-si of Yuan dynasty” Complete Collection of Jie-zi Garden painting, Tainan: Li-da, 1985, p.28.

7.      Li-da Press Desk. “Mix Depict Method” Complete Collection of Jie-zi Garden painting, Tainan: Li-da, 1985, p.249.

8.      Zhang, Pu-sheng. Blue and White Porcelain Appraisement, Beijing: Beijing Library, Jan. 1995, 138-147.

9.      Yang Xin, et al. Three Thousand years of Chinese Painting, Taipei: Lian-jing, Aug. 1999, p.203.

10.  Wang, Qing-zheng. Chinese Ceramics 11-Yuan, Part II, Taipei County: Ji-Nian, Jun. 2000, p.165.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

11.  Li, Hui-bing. Appraisement Foundations of Chinese Porcelain, Beijing: Forbidden City, 2001, p.207.

12.  “Basic brushwork of Chinese landscape painting” Chinese Painting Teaching, Study on Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Net. <>