Porcelain is a material made from well-chosen porcelain clay or pottery stone through technological processes like proportioning, molding, drying and firing. Although porcelain developed from pottery, the two are different in raw material, glaze and firing temperature; compared with pottery, porcelain has tougher texture, more transparent body and finer luster. It excels pottery in both pragmatic and artistic terms. That's why it gradually replaced pottery in the ceramic history. It is called china in English because it was first made in China, which fully explains that the delicate porcelain can be the representative of China.
The earliest porcelain, commonly called "primitive porcelain", appeared during the Shang Dynasty, but the first porcelain in real sense was not produced until the Eastern Han Dynasty. The techniques for making porcelain matured in the Tang Dynasty. During the Song Dynasty, famous kilns emerged in multitude, including Jun Kiln, Ge Kiln, Guan Kiln, Ru Kiln and Ding Kiln which are known as the "Five Great Kilns". In the Yuan Dynasty, Jingdezhen, the Capital of Porcelain, produced blue and white porcelain which later became the representative of porcelain. Porcelain of the Ming Dynasty inherited and developed traditions of porcelain of the Song Dynasty. Doucai porcelain created in the Chenghua period and full color porcelain fired during the Jiajing period and the Wanli period are well-known treasures. Porcelain of the Qing Dynasty is classical, graceful, delicate and gorgeous. Plain tricolor porcelain and five color porcelain of the Kangxi period and powder doped color decorated porcelain and enamel porcelain of the Qianlong period are choicest goods renowned both at home and abroad.
Distinguished porcelain production areas in China include Jingdezhen in Jiangxi, Liling in Hunan, Dehua in Fujian, Shiwan in Guangdong, Tangshan in Hebei and Zibo in Shandong, etc.. Blue and white porcelain, blue and white rice pattern porcelain, powder doped color decorated porcelain and colored glaze porcelain are known as the "four great porcelains". Besides them, some others are also characteristic, such as statuary porcelain, eggshell porcelain and five-color porcelain.
Porcelain is the creative fruit of the working people of ancient China. Since the Han and Tang Dynasties, porcelain has been exported worldwide. It promotes economic and cultural exchange between China and the outside world, and profoundly influences the traditional culture and lifestyle of people from other countries.