A Legacy of Ming:
Ceramic Finds from the Site of the Ming Palace in Nanjing

Ming Porcelain

A Legacy of Ming: Ceramic Finds from the Site of the Ming Palace in Nanjing

Since the 1950’s, several important excavations of porcelain wares have been conducted at the site of the Ming Palace in Nanjing, which has proved to be another important find for Ming ceramics in addition to Jingdezhen. In 1964, while the city dredged the Yudai River, ceramic archaeologists from the Nanjing Museum found a large number of ceramic shards, mainly blue and white wares dating from the late Yuan to the early Ming reigns of Hongwu, Yongle and Xuande. Through careful analysis and extensive research, their findings help identify wares of the Hongwu reign and styles and development of porcelain wares in the Yongle and Xuande reigns. The archaeologists also recognized wares produced in the interregnum period during the three reigns of Zhengtong, Jingtai and Tianshun.

This comprehensive catalog features more than 200 shards illustrated in color-including lead glazed tiles and bricks, porcelain bricks, triangular and circular tile terminals, monochromes, blue and whites and polychromes-together with detailed descriptive entries and two introductory essays.

Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Museum and Art Gallery, University of Hong Kong; 1 edition (December 1995)
ISBN-10: 962710132X
ISBN-13: 978-9627101321
Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8 x 0.5 inches

April 6th, 2008

Lost at Sea:
The Strange Route of the Lena Shoal Junk
By: Franck Goddio et al.

Blue and White // Chinese Export Porcelain // Ming Porcelain // Ship Wreck Cargoes

lena_shoal.jpgLost at Sea: The Strange Route of the Lena Shoal Junk, by Franck Goddio, Monique Crick, Peter Lam, Stacey Pierson and Rosemary Scott

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Periplus Publishing London (December 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1902699351
ISBN-13: 978-1902699356
Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 9.5 x 1 inches
Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds

March 29th, 2008

Zhangzhou Ware Found in the Philippines: Swatow Export Ceramics from Fujian 16th-17th Century
By Rita C. Tan

Blue and White // Fujian / Blanc de Chine // Ming Porcelain // South East Asia


This account of the 16th and 17th century ceramics of Zhangzhou (formerly often called “Swatow china”) is published in connection with the 2007 Yuchengco Museum/Oriental Ceramic Society of the Philippines exhibition. Accounts of the production methods export and trade patterns, archaeological sites and shipwrecked stock complement the 180 annotated color plates of artefacts displayed in the exhibition. With sketch maps, graphics, and index.

Format: Hardcover, 191 pages
Published: 2007, Philippines, 1st Edition
ISBN: 9789719317006

March 28th, 2008

Chinese Ceramics: Selected Articles from Orientations, 1982-2003

Imperial Chinese Porcelain // Ming Porcelain // Song Dynasty


This substantial compilation of illustrated articles from ‘Orientations’ makes available new perspectives and the results of specialist research on many aspects of the history, design and production of Chinese ceramics.

This book just ought to be one of the best buys ever when it comes to substance. One slight drawback is that the book as such is compiled from a series of interesting articles.

Even if they so to speak covers the history of Chinese Ceramics, as a book, it lacks focus. But besides that, as a night table book, or the perfect reference look-up book if you are lucky enough to hit home on one of the topics covered. Very good.

Nobody hesitates about that this book is worth buying. Actually you should have subscribed to Orientation during 1982-2003 in the first place but if you didn’t; here’s a very good selection of the best of the best.

Format: Paperback, 430 pages
Published: 2004, Hong Kong, 2nd Edition
ISBN: 9627951325

March 28th, 2008

Kraak Porcelain: A moment in the history of trade
By: Maura Rinaldi

Blue and White // Chinese Export Porcelain // Ming Porcelain

kraakporcelain.jpgKraak Porcelain – A Moment in the History of Trade

This is the classic book on Kraak Porcelain and early Dutch market export wares. The time period is limited to the decades before and after 1600 but, this book is important for the understanding of late Ming porcelain in a similar way as David Howard Armorial Porcelain I+II give the keys to the dating of all common 18th century export porcelain.

This is not “better” than A D Brankstone, but while Brankstone explains the soul of early Ming, this is the key reference book on late Ming and a fundamental classic on “Kraak Porcelain”

CLASSIC – Fundamental reference on late Ming export “Kraak” porcelain

March 26th, 2008

Ming Ceramics in the British Museum by Jessica Harrison-Hall

Ming Porcelain

mingceramics.jpgMing Ceramics in the British Museum

Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, by Jessica Harrison-Hall, London, 2001. The world’s broadest collection of Ming Ceramics, here published in its entity. 640 pages and 1155 pictures of which 1025 in color. A well done book production. Hard to ever beat as a fundamental reference to porcelain from the Ming dynasty. You can find more books but not a single one better. This book also deals with the rarely discussed topic of funeral Ming figures and architectural ceramics.

This substantial study of the very diverse achievements in ceramics of the Ming period (1368-1644) draws on the world’s broadest collection, that of the British Museum. Authoritative background chapters on the history of the Ming period, the development of the ceramic industry, the roles of ceramic artifacts in Ming life and in burials precede the presentation of a thousand objects each with photograph and commentary. Appendices deal with forgeries, markings, tombs, shipwrecks, conservation, pigments and photography. Indexed, with bibliography, listing of Chinese names and maps. This work will be of major importance to student, collector and scholar alike.

CLASSIC – best individual book on Ming porcelain

Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, by Jessica Harrison-Hall

Format: Hardcover, 640 pages
Published: 2001, United Kingdom, 1st Edition
ISBN: 071411488X

March 26th, 2008

Yuan and Ming Blue and white wares from Jiangxi

By: Yau, Hok Wa

Min Yao // Ming Porcelain // Yuan Dynasty

This is a catalogue produced in conjunction with an exhibition jointly organized by the Jiangxi Provincial Museum and Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

It consists of 128 items of Yuan and Ming (14th to mid 17th centuries) provincial blue and white wares. Half of the exhibits, primarily specimens with datable contexts, come from Jiangxi Provincial Museum and the cultural institutions in Jiangxi. The rest, mostly products for local and overseas markets, are selected from the Art Museum collection and loans from private and public collections in Hong Kong and the Philippines. All exhibits are illustrated with colour plates and detailed entries in both Chinese and English. It contains also two scholarly essays, “Yuan and Ming Provincial Blue and White Ware from Jingdezhen” by Peng Minghan and Yin Qinglan and “Chinese Blue and White ware of the 14th to 15th Centuries: A Philippine Perspective” by Rita C. Tan, and an appendix of “A Selection of Dated Ming Blue and Whites”. The book provides indispensable reference materials for studies on the Yuan and Ming blue and white wares from Jiangxi. 8.5 x 11.8″, 238 pp., 151 color plates, text in Chinese and English, hardcover, Hong Kong, 2002.

Probably the best book on so called “provincial Ming” available in English. Worth trying to find.

March 26th, 2008

Chinese Ceramics
in the Topkapi Saray Museum

Ming Porcelain // Yuan Dynasty

Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, by Regina Krahl, et al., London, 1986. This is not really a book. This is a career. It is a heavy set of three books really and they are very expensive. Still they are a “must have” if you really want to understand early Ming blue and white.

The wares in this complete catalogue present a continuous review of porcelain made for export from the 13th to the 20th century which in it’s range of styles and designs is without equal in other collections. With some 4500 pieces dating from the Yuan and Ming dynasties and 5500 from Qing, this three volume set constitutes one of the most extensively illustrated works on Chinese ceramics.

Volume 1 : ‘Celadon Wares’, volume 2 : ‘Yuan and Ming’ volume 3 : ‘Qing’. The three volumes are in slipcases, limited edition of 1500 numbered copies. English text. 1986, fol., 1,384 pages, 5000 ill., cl.

Publisher: Sotheby Parke Bernet Pubns (May 1986)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0856671843
ISBN-13: 978-0856671845
Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 11.5 x 7 inches
Shipping Weight: cool 35.4 pounds !

There is also a recent edition of only two volumes available but I have not compared them and don’t know how much you loose in comparison with the first edition.


March 25th, 2008

Early Ming Wares of Qingdezhen
By: A. D. Brankstone

Imperial Chinese Porcelain // Ming Porcelain


This is the most charming book that is likely ever to be published on the subject of early Chinese porcelain.

This book is a collector’s item in itself and I highly recommend it for the understanding of early Ming.

The personal enthusiasm and brilliant mind of the author goes a long way to explain why we collect Chinese porcelain in the first place. This is a good friend to have in the book shelf. Go for a first edition if you can find one, for the “ambiance”.

CLASSIC – on understanding early Ming

March 25th, 2008

Chinese Pottery and Porcelain:
From Prehistory to the Present
By Shelagh Vainker

Chinese Porcelain (in general) // Ming Porcelain

Second edition

Covers ceramics from the Neolithic period to the present. This is a good “summary” and draws on pieces from the British Museum. The illustrations are good and the text consise and on the dot. There is something as too much, when it comes to information and this is “enough” in most cases. It is a good buy if you are looking into just one bok. I like it because I can trust the information, and the selection of illustration is good. It is actually hard to find just a few pieces that fairly well represent a whole period. The point of view is more humanistic than Valenstein’s (MET) book which is also a very good choice but which tends to do a lot of listings. I know, buy both. (LEFT: Second edition, 2005)

The publisher adds the following:

The art of Chinese ceramics encompasses prehistoric clay figurines of pregnant women, bronze ritualistic bells, exotic earthenware figures of merchants in the Central Asian silk trade, Ming writing-boxes bearing Arabic inscriptions, Taoist shrines adorned with lacquer and gilding, and pagoda tiles molded with monster masks. It’s an art as richly varied as Chinese civilization itself, as this resplendently illustrated survey makes abundantly clear. First edition 1991
Vainker, a curator at the British Museum, draws on the museum’s vast collection of Chinese stoneware, porcelain and religious sculpture in her absorbing narrative. Proceeding from the riotous gaiety of Tang “three-color wares” (A.D. 618-906) to the classical equilibrium of 12th-century Song pottery to a modern, softly glowing “eggshell” porcelain vase, Vainker vibrantly charts “a continued transformation of the contemporary into the collectible.”

Well this is not entirely the full truth. The author actually uses up close to 140 out of a total 216 (240 with appendixes) pages to approach actual porcelain and not before p 134 do we enter the world of blue and white porcelain. Still this is a splendid book which I highly recommended. (RIGHT: First edition, 1991.)

March 25th, 2008