The period of Ming Dynasty was also renowned for its ceramics and porcelains. The major production center for porcelain was the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province, most famous in the period for blue and white porcelain, but also producing other styles.

The Dehua porcelain factories in Fujian catered to European tastes by creating Chinese export porcelain by the late 16th century. Individual potters also became known, such as He Chaozong, who became famous in the early 17th century for his style of white porcelain sculpture.

In The Ceramic Trade in Asia, Chuimei Ho estimates that about 16% of late Ming era Chinese ceramic exports were sent to Europe, while the rest were destined for Japan and South East Asia.

Carved designs in lacquerware and designs glazed onto porcelain wares displayed intricate scenes similar in complexity to those in painting. These items could be found in the homes of the wealthy, alongside embroidered silks and wares in jade, ivory, and cloisonné.

The houses of the rich were also furnished with rosewood furniture and feathery latticework.

The writing materials in a scholar’s private study, including elaborately carved brush holders made of stone or wood, were designed and arranged ritually to give an aesthetic appeal.

Connoisseurship in the late Ming period centered on these items of refined artistic taste, which provided work for art dealers and even underground scammers who themselves made imitations and false attributions.

The Jesuit Matteo Ricci while staying in Nanjing wrote that Chinese scam artists were ingenious at making forgeries and huge profits.

However, there were guides to help the wary new connoisseur; Liu Tong (died 1637) wrote a book printed in 1635 that told his readers how to spot fake and authentic pieces of art. He revealed that a Xuande era (1426–1435) bronze work could be authenticated by judging its sheen; porcelain wares from the Yongle era (1402–1424) could be judged authentic by their thickness.

We see explicit and stylish paintings in ceramic and porcelain articles.

Famous painters in the period included Ni Zan and Dong Qichang, as well as the Four Masters of the Ming dynasty, Shen Zhou, Tang Yin, Wen Zhengming, and Qiu Ying.

They drew upon the techniques, styles, and complexity in painting achieved by their Song and Yuan predecessors, but added techniques and styles. Well-known Ming artists could make a living simply by painting due to the high prices they demanded for their artworks and the great demand by the highly cultured community to collect precious works of art.

The artist Qiu Ying was once paid 2.8 kg (100 oz) of silver to paint a long handscroll for the eightieth birthday celebration of the mother of a wealthy patron.

Renowned artists often gathered an entourage of followers, some who were amateurs who painted while pursuing an official career and others who were full-time painters.

edited by staff

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