Monday, April 7, 2008

Connection with China - Delft Blauw

When we were planning to move to Delft, a Dutch-American friend told us about cities in the Netherlands, and Delft was special for its famous porcelain. After we came, I noticed the tourist stores selling all kinds of blue and white color porcelain products. I was wondering, it was so similar to Chinese Qing Hua Ci - Blue Flower Porcelain. However, I didn't question much further.

The past weekend was a Museum weekend, and most of the museums in the Netherlands are free to the public. We took the opportunity and visited several museums at Delft. In the Prinsenhof museum, I was really amazed to find out the origin of the Delft Blauw. There were several ancient porcelain containers, it depicted Chinese figures: with special ancient style costumes. It must be either from China, or imitated Chinese porcelain. It also displays some colored porcelain products that were claimed to learn from Japanese porcelains.

I then went on to check the history of Delft Blauw. Delft was famous earlier for its brewery. Later, due to the water quality decrease in the city, many breweries had to close. After that, ceramics was developed fast since potteries imported from abroad were very popular. Delft became synonymous with ceramics - ceramics have been produced in this city for many centuries. In many Dutch households you will find a bowl or a vase with a hand-painted motif.

In the 1600’s the beautiful white and blue Chinese porcelain came to Europe, with the Dutch East India Company. It soon gained major popularity and Dutch potters started to imitate the technique. At this time porcelain was an unknown material in the Netherlands. The potters aimed to copy the Oriental products with local clay, and they were successful. It became so popular that it turned into serious competition for the local potters. In order to save their trade, they imitated the porcelain and created Delftware. Although the Delftware potters liked to use the word ’porceleyn’ for the product they produced, this was technically incorrect. Porcelain is made from porcelain clay (kaolin), whilst Delftware is made from a clay mixture that is covered with a tin glaze after it has come out of the kiln.

Although sometimes I question whether those Delft blauw souvenirs sold in the market were actually made in China, I have to agree that the varieties and functions of these porcelain products are developed quite differently in the Netherlands. Blue tiles on the wall are very special in Dutch culture, which was absent in China. Similarly in both places, the plates decorated with blue paintings are very common. However, the display of plates in shelves might be more as a western culture, in which stories and real life scenes cover the full plate, still in contemporary times. Maybe it is necessary to visit Jingdezhen again, to really think about their differences.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanx for this post now I am waiting for next post.. we are porclainware manufacturers and Exporters