Chinoiserie Chic: The History of Blue and White Porcelain

The technique of cobalt blue decorations seems to have come from the Middle-East in the 9th century through decorative experimentation on white ware. Cobalt blue pigments were excavated from local mines in central Iran from the 9th century, and then were exported as a raw material to China.

In the early 14th century mass-production was fully developed of fine, translucent, blue and white porcelain started at Jingdezhen, sometimes called the porcelain capital of China. This development was due to the combination of Chinese techniques and Islamic trade. The new ware was made possible by the export of cobalt from Persia called Islamic Blue, combined with the translucent white quality of Chinese porcelain. Cobalt blue was considered as a precious commodity, with a value about twice that of gold.

Chinese blue and white porcelain was once-fired: after the porcelain body was dried, decorated with refined cobalt-blue pigment mixed with water and applied using a brush, coated with a clear glaze and fired at high temperature. Production of blue and white wares has continued at Jingdezhen to this day.

Oriental blue and white porcelain was highly prized in Europe and America and sometimes enhanced by fine silver and gold mounts, it was collected by kings and princes.

In time the traditional blue and white Chinoiserie style was highly coveted and collected by commoners after transferware patterns were introduced in the 17th century.

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Deeply rooted in our collective conscious the elegance, timeless color and stylized patterns have continued to influence and inspire the design world to this day.

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If you found Chinoiserie Chic inspirational please spy on my pinterest board for more design secrets.

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