Ceramics exist on virtually every continent in the world, at least in some form. In fact, ceramics are regarded as a universal form of both practical, and artistic pursuits, embraced by countless cultures. From a beautiful vase meant only for display, to a rugged jug designed entirely for practical use, there is hardly a more versatile medium.
Let’s take a look at some fascinating facts about ceramics.
The Oldest Ceramic In Existence
There is no better indication as to just how old, and how widely used ceramics are than the Venus of Dolní Věstonice. The stunning artwork depicts a stylised female figure, though what purpose it served is up for debate.
Some believe the figure to have been part of a spiritual ceremony, while others suggest it is a fertility idol. Either way, this ceramic marvel is dated at around 30,000 years old. This means that not only did humans value ceramics 30,000 years ago, they also valued ceramics as an art medium.
A Foundation Of Chinese Culture
Ask anyone what China is known for and the answer will inevitably be ceramics and silk. Yes, Chinese ceramic art is extremely prized, so much so that the pieces are sometimes sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Of all Chinese ceramics it is the works produced in the Ming dynasty that the most valued. The era, between 1369 and 1644, gave us some of the most incredible ceramic art in human history. Not only was the porcelain used exceptionally pure, but the designs were so intricate as to almost be beyond belief. Next time you’re surfing the casino slots Canada loves on your phone, take a break, check out some Ming dynasty ceramics, and be amazed.
Most Expensive Ceramics In History
But just what is the monetary value attached to ceramics? Some of the artwork can be picked up for just a few dollars, perfect as a gift or souvenir. On the other hand some ceramic artwork is virtually priceless.
An 18th century vase, specifically designed for Emperor Qianlong, boasted an incredible price tag of €16 million. Though, astoundingly, that isn’t the most valuable ceramic ever sold. The most expensive ceramic happens to be an item that wasn’t even designed for royalty. A tiny vessel used in the 12th century served no other purpose than to offer a place for calligraphers to clean their brushes. It sold for an unbelievable €31 million.
3 Main Categories Of Art
So just how many styles of ceramic art exist? If you guessed 3, you’d be right. If you guessed hundreds, you’d also be right. Which is to say; although there are 3 main styles of ceramic art, porcelain, stoneware and earthenware, there are hundreds of deviations of each.
The core principles of ceramic art are based around clay quality and the temperature of cooking. A specific mixture of minerals and clay will produce different qualities of material, with porcelain being the highest quality. The temperature at which each material is cooked determines the final, overall product. Porcelain cooked at 1,400c, for example, is completely waterproof.