East Asian Studies collection

Art from Clay

The dense presentation of ceramics from the East Asian Studies collection enables a wide variety of objects to be brought to light, which otherwise remain hidden in the museum store. In addition, it offers the opportunity to exhibit art-historical comparisons and to display cultural-historical contexts.

The history of ceramics goes back a long way. It was already widespread in various Neolithic cultures of China several thousand years ago. Ceramics were used in daily life, as decorations for living spaces and grave ornaments. However, early on people began to appreciate these pieces for their aesthetic value, which encouraged the development of the materials used, technical sophistication and the variety of styles of the artefacts. Mass-produced since the 14th century in Jingdezhen, the first genuine porcelain worldwide became an important trading good and global conveyor of East Asian culture and artistic brilliance.

Above all, the porcelain flourished with cobalt blue underglaze painting. Its popularity contributed decisively towards the development of European porcelain. The Chinese blue-and-white porcelain had a big influence on ceramic production in the Netherlands especially, as illustrated, for example, by a 17th century Chinese bowl and an 18th century bowl made in Delft. Both show fields similar to flags on the edges with ornamental and figurative representations. The decoration with an elephant and two monks of the Chinese Kraak bowl was replaced in the Delft piece by a lion in front of a temple.

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Room 319 – Art of China and Korea, Study Collections