Blue and white porcelain decoration in Ming Dynasty _ The aesthetic implication of endless aftertaste

The Ming Dynasty was the heyday of the blue-and-white porcelain development. On the basis of inheriting the advantages of the Yuan Dynasty’s blue-and-white porcelain, the craftsmen of the Ming Dynasty developed and innovated.

In the early Ming Dynasty, most of the cobalt used in blue-and-white porcelain was home-made cobalt, with a small amount of imported materials left by the Yuan Dynasty. Most of the blue-and-white porcelain in this period left black-and-blue markings, rough hand.During the Yongle period, Zheng He’s trip to the West brought high-quality “Sunny Brocade” from overseas, and the blue and white flowers were brighter and brighter.

(Ming Jia Jing · Qing Hua Fairy Crane Xiangyun pattern big plate)

In the late Jiajing period, the craftsmen tried to burn the blue and white porcelain with the blue and white material, making the blue and white porcelain more expressive. The blue and white porcelain in this period had a red and purple tint, that is, the top quality in the blue and white porcelain.In the late Wanli period, large blue-and-white porcelain appliances began to appear.The blue and white porcelain of the early Qing Dynasty basically followed the characteristics of this period.Today, we will say that the Ming Dynasty blue-and-white porcelain classical decoration.


Dragon pattern is an indispensable decorative pattern under the rule of feudal imperial power, which not only represents the supremacy of imperial power, but also has the meaning of auspicious and guardian.In the production process of the official kiln, the design of the dragon pattern is mainly complicated and gorgeous, and most of them are exquisite and incomparable.

In the early Ming Dynasty, the main status of the five-claw dragon pattern has been basically determined. During the Yongle Period, the sea water dragon pattern appeared, and the five-claw dragon pattern began to change into four-claw or three-claw dragon pattern.Xuande period, most of the dragon and phoenix lines co-exist, this period most of the dragon lines high-spirited, elegant body.Most of the dragon patterns in Yongxuan period were fierce in appearance, which was a way to carry forward the founding spirit of Emperor Taizu of Ming Dynasty.

(Ming Yong-le, Tsing Hua, Tao, Dragon Grail, Jubilee Tray, Taipei National Palace Museum)

The mid-Ming Dynasty dragon pattern has many changes, some show curly shape, Yongle Dynasty after the appearance of a fancy dragon pattern, Hongzhi years of dragon pattern is more special, is very lovely “myopic dragon”, because the dragon’s eyes do very rigid, basically are flat-sighted.The late Ming Dynasty dragon pattern gradually lost its majesty and ferocity, with the war of the environment and people’s mentality.The dragons had become round-headed and fat-brained, thin and weak, and less imperial.

The blue-and-white porcelain of the early Ming Dynasty was largely invisible to the unicorn and lion, and only gradually appeared on the blue-and-white porcelain of the Xuande period.The unicorn in the Yuan Dynasty looked similar to the dragon, and by the time of Xuande, the unicorn began to look like a wolf.During the Hongzhi period, the lion pattern appeared frequently because a large number of lions were given tribute to the palace and the observation of the lion was more careful.After the Wanli year, the lion’s appearance on the porcelain became less and the description of the lion was more concise because of the sharp decline of the lion’s import.

flower and bird landscape

In the early Ming Dynasty, blue-and-white porcelain was relatively simple in shape and decoration, mainly symbolizing the rich and auspicious flowers, after the year of Yongle, the theme of flowers gradually enriched.

(Ming Yongle · Astrophyllum arundinacea picture bottle)

Among the flowers, lotus is the most common subject matter.Since ancient times, the lotus flower is used by the literati to chant the theme of Gao Jie.Lotus conforms to the spirit of the ancient literati, and also contains the spiritual yearning of the secular people. Since the introduction of Buddhism, the high and clean meaning of lotus has added the concept of religion.For the rulers, the lotus represents the “wealth, incorruptibility” means they like to see.The lotus is the main theme of tangled branch lotus in the ming dynasty is the most common, tangled branch lotus continuous and has a certain pattern of rules, has the repeated and vivid aesthetic feeling.The pattern characteristic of tangled branch lotus, also let it can better adnate the modelling of various utensils, often appear as the pattern of edge.Blue and white twig tangling in any place can show elegance and quiet, will not appear abrupt.

(Tomorrow Kai. Green Monkey Steal Peach, Ruyi style plate)

Peony pattern, showing the magnificent, is also the Ming Dynasty from the official to popular favorite pattern.Jingdezhen porcelain in the Ming Dynasty used a large number of peony patterns, not only means wealth and good luck, but also the meaning of the king of flowers.After the introduction of the sea pomegranate grain from Iran, it was deeply loved by the people of Central Plains.The craftsmen often combine this pattern with the grape pattern, which is the meaning of many sons and many blessings.

Floral subject matter also can collocate bird’s pattern already insect’s pattern commonly, this is the interest of Chinese traditional literati painting, also is the continuation of the tradition aesthetic that the movement is appropriate.Blue and white porcelain decoration in the birds and flowers combination, most will combine the Chinese homophonic, meaning a good blessing and hope.


People painted on porcelain in the past are mainly “political and religious” for the purpose of promoting traditional virtues or loyalty and obedience to emperors.By the time the blue-and-white porcelain flourished, this idea had been gradually transformed, and with the expansion of the civil class, the decorative features of these characters began to turn to the nature of entertainment, has reached the purpose of increasing the interest of objects, let more people enjoy the purpose.

(Ming Jia Jing · Qing Hua baby play picture jar)

For example, the blue-and-white porcelain of this period has appeared the story of “The Story of the Western Chamber”, “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”,” Water Margin “and so on, which makes the blue-and-white porcelain more people-friendly.In addition, the popular children’s play pictures, fairy pictures and women’s pictures have also become the main theme.In Jiajing years, in order to reflect the child’s loveliness, the craftsmen will often highlight the child’s head, the characters appear to be light-headed, become a very prominent feature.

Of course, because the blue-and-white porcelain itself with an elegant taste, the literati landscape map of the expression is very strong, in the early blue-and-white porcelain on the landscape painting is very common.In the Wanli era, China’s printmaking art entered its heyday. In order to win over literati and painters, the booksellers spared no effort to promote the market price step by step.The creation of blue-and-white porcelain has also been affected, and many famous paintings in the print world have become the main materials for the creation of blue-and-white porcelain.

(Ming Xuande · Qing Hua Xixi Wen Qiao Tu Mei vase)

The craftsmen abandoned the traditional method of choosing the subject matter from the novel and drama or the landscape literati painting, but used the literati painting at that time, so the blue-and-white porcelain figure painting of this period will have the character of print, most of the characters are big and short.


After saying good-bye to the ancient time of the Uygur god, the decoration developed from initially pleasing to the gods into a symbol of a better life.In the Ming Dynasty blue-and-white porcelain decoration, no matter the composition of the ever-changing, all show a unified and harmonious picture, to convey auspicious meaning.

Before the production of blue and white porcelain, China’s porcelain decoration is mostly in the way of carving, printing, since the Yuan Dynasty, the brush has become a drawing pattern of tools, so that ink landscape painting and porcelain wonderful combination.White ground blue and white porcelain was widely loved because of the rich changes, Ming Dynasty as the heyday, began to pursue the innovation of shape and decoration.

Indeed, the blue-and-white porcelain with the style of the official kiln as the wind vane represents the aesthetic and ideal of the ruling class, each period will change according to the emperor’s preferences.But subtly, the psychology of the common people in the market and the craftsmen’s skills are also influencing the abundance and change of the blue-and-white porcelain patterns.In short, people’s pursuit of the beauty of life is the root cause of the continuous renovation of blue-and-white porcelain.

Chinese culture is extensive and profound, porcelain is popular with friends at home and abroad because of their endless creativity and positive feeling.The essence of blue-and-white porcelain is also the essence of the Chinese spirit _ excellence, good luck.

reference material

Feng Xianming _ “The Origin and Development of Blue and White Porcelain”

Wang Wenxiu _ “On the Decoration Combination of Lotus Pattern”

Ma Wenkuan _ “Chinese Blue and White Porcelain and Islamic Blue and White Porcelain”

Wudan _ A Study on the Dragon Porcelain in the Early Ming Dynasty