"Blue and white pottery" covers a wide range of
white pottery and porcelain decorated under the
glaze with a blue pigment, generally cobalt oxide.
The decoration is commonly applied by hand
thgough brush painting but also by stencilling or
Stencilling is a technique which produces a
pattern by applying pigment to a surface over an
intermediate object with designed gaps in it
which permit to the pattern to be created by
allowing the pigment to reach only some parts of
Blue and white decoration first became widely
used in Chinese porcelain in the 14th century,
after the cobalt pigment for the blue began to be
imported from Persia. However, the origin of this
decorative style is thought to have initially started
in Iraq, when craftsmen in Basra sought to imitate
imported white Chinese stoneware with their own
tin-glazed, white pottery and added decorative
motifs in blue glazes. Such Abbasid-period "blue
and white" pieces of ceramics date to the 9th
century A.D., decades after the opening of a
direct sea route from Iraq to China.
Later a style of decoration based on sinuous
vegetal and floral forms spreading across the
object was perfected and became extremely
popular. Examples of such decorated porcelain
were widely exported, and inspired imitative
wares in Islamic ceramics and later European tin-
glazed earthenware such as Delftware and after
the techniques were discovered in the 18th
century, European porcelain.
The true development of blue and white ware in
China started with the first half of the 14th
century, when it progressively replaced the
century-long tradition of bluish-white ware, or
Qingbai. The main production center was in
Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province.
With the advent of the Ming dynasty in 1368, blue
and white ware was shunned for a time by the
Court, as being too foreign in inspiration. Blue
and white porcelain however came back to
prominence with the Xuande Emperor, and again
developed from that time on.
During the 16th century a number of blue and
white wares were characterized by Islamic
influences, which sometimes bore Persian and
Arabic script, due to the influence of Muslim
eunuchs serving at his court.