Zangzhou porcelain is a Ming Dynasty export ware.

Zangzhou (Changchow) is a major production centre for this type of distinct porcelain body, and appears to have been focused on the export market to South-East Asia in the 16th-17th century. Older literature discusses them as ‘Swatow’ or  ‘Provincial’ Ming, but excavations in the 1950’s in Fujian Provence located numerous ceramic production centres, with Zangzhou on the Jiulong River giving the name to this category of ceramics.

The wares are varied, with blue & white, celadon, and polychrome enamels all appearing. The best way to examine the product is through the Binh Thuan Shipwreck, which was filled with tens of thousands of pieces from this source. This ship went down in circa 1608, and contained a large number of blue & white pieces, as well as enamelled wares and pieces with blue underglaze and enamelled colours overglaze. This rarely survives in good condition as it is vulnerable to wear, especially in the context of a shipwreck….

One way to recognise this product is through the firing technique; dishes & bowls were placed onto rough granitic sand, which allowed the pot to be safely removed from the kiln without sticking. In the shipwreck examples, this still survives in its original extent; in pieces that made it to market, this has been carefully removed prior to sale as it is extremely sharp!


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