Antique Chinese and Japanese Porcelain collector's help and info page


Ming dynasty, Chenghua period (1465-1487) porcelain

Collectors and connoisseurs alike have revered the Chenghua (1465-1487) reign of greater refinement of raw materials and better preparation. The fact that it had as little iron impurity resulted in whiter body material. According to studies there was also slight adjustment in the composition with the proportion of clay (kaolin) to baidunzi (china stone) being increased so that so that there was more alumina and less calcia to produce honey white body which could be fired at a slightly higher temperature than previous porcelains and was thus more vitrified.

The glaze was improved by reducing the amount of flux in the glaze which allow it to mature at a higher temperature enabling more of the residual batch material to be dissolved in the glaze during firing. This produced a smooth glossy glaze with minute bubbles evenly distributed.

This gives the glaze its much admired unctuous jade like texture, while the tiny bubbles produce a soft appearance without masking or distorting any decorating beneath. A reduction in the amount of iron in the glaze resulted in a cleaner clearer glaze.

The persistence of colour texture and style of painting of the cobalt blue is another feature of the Chenghua style.

From my personal experience the Ming Dynasty Chenghua wares are very similar to Kangxi period porcelain save being slightly sturdier and a bit more 'tooled' as to make the pieces truly perfect. To put this in words; with Chenghua pieces it appears that a lot of work has been put into them to make their beauty to appear effortless.