Dinnerware: Porcelain Powered

Tableware made of porcelain had its beginnings approximately 1000 years old. Discovered in China, the use of porcelain is often credited to the Song Dynasty. This is arguable, as historians point to the early uses of porcelain 100 years before during the Tang Dynasty. Regardless, the Song Dynasty was the first dynasty to ever create royal porcelain factories, which were charged with creating fine porcelain wares.

The term, fine china, takes in the spectrum of porcelain pieces, including tableware, vases, and figures. As the fame of porcelain increased, mainly through the 1700s, the city of Jingdezhen became the designated capital of porcelain production. During both the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1912), some of the finest examples of fine china were created.

The significance of porcelain had, and still has, a great deal to do with the time-consuming nature of its creation. For the two ingredients that shape porcelain, namely kaolin and petuntse, to successfully meld, a kiln must be fired to at the least 1250 degrees. As the petuntse, which can only be found in China, melts, it is the kaolin that helps retain the piece's shape. This is the exclusive quality of porcelain: refined delicacy and fragility.

Because porcelain was so well esteemed, it was only a matter of time before European artisans began competing. The variance in the porcelain was obvious because they did not have access to the raw materials found in China. The European porcelain used softer clay and when fired, failed to reproduce the distinctive white color of Chinese porcelain. Nevertheless, the process was equally prolonged and translated well into a new luxury item.

The spread of this delicate luxury item from one generation to the next, has only increased its value. Marvelous china, surviving years of traveling from one place to the next and being passed from one generation to the next is a miracle in itself. This finest porcelain china represents the history of our ancestors. Striving to preserve the past, which has been realized to some extent, our ancestors seem to have been more advanced in some ways than was first thought. The items of the past including the fine china dinnerware that has been discovered in many cultures is one of the clues that they did indeed live for the finer things in life just as we do today.

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