blue print


BLUE PRINT Monographic Programme:

PHASE I (2016–2017), PHASE II (2017–2022) – PHASE III (2023–2028)

PHASE I (2016–2017)
Sample Groups 1.0–8.0, Topics I–III

Chinese Ceramics from the Estate of the Heirs of Yamashita Shintaro (山下新太郎) 1881–1966 and Yamashita Ichiro (山下一郎) 1913–2011

Including samples from collections of ASET Holdings, Bolourforoushan Family and the Estate of the Heirs of Rudolf Wissell (1869–1962) and Otto Friedrich Bach (1899–1981)

Summary introduction

While the main focus of the current scholarship rests largely on the origin and the use of underglaze cobalt blue, the manufacturing techniques, the provenance of the raw materials, the chronology and dating, the authentication, the cultural exchange and the trade contacts (Cowell, Zhang 2001; Guo, Qian 2005; Krahl 2011; Wen, Pollard 2009; Pierson 2012; Kessler 2012; Wen 2012; Rajput 2015)1, it overlooks the extraordinary history of a progressive evolution, the long-standing technological development of high-fired ceramics or ‘proto porcelain’, dating back as early as to 2nd millennium BC (Rehren, Zheng 2011)2, that has ultimately resulted in sophisticated alkali–calcium glaze porcelain productions at Jingdezhen kilns during the Yuan (1279-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties.

Objectives & Goals

The prime objective of the BLUE PRINT Programme is to conduct studies with an interdisciplinary approach on the origin, the development, the diffusion and the transmission of the knowledge and the technology of high-fired ceramics within and across Eurafrasia (see [hyperlink 4]  ATLAS, ‘PHASE I INAA, Isotope trace element provenancing’).

The programme aims to present detailed, comparative research investigations and studies that will contribute to a greater understanding of the synthesis of chemical, optical, and physical properties of high-fired ceramics, imitating the look and the shine of precious stones, such as jade, lapis lazuli, turquoise, emerald, ruby and sapphire and precious metals, such as gold and silver.

It aims to address aspects of the ceramic technology and its inextricable relation with Pyro-technological processes of glass production and metallurgy; conservation and preservation issues, and how glazed ceramics such as the Ru, Imperial Official Kiln (Guan yao Kiln),,, Jun (1.13.03, 1.13.04, 1.13.05, 1.13.00), Ge, Ding (1.00.01, 1.00.51), Yue and Longquan celadons (1.01.00), Qingbai wares, the Yuan (, 2.0.03,, 2.2.25, 2.2.24,, 2.1.01, 2.1.00, 20, 21, 22) and Ming blue-and-white (ZI: 23, 24, 25, 26) can be considered amongst the most chemically and physically stable synthetic materials ever created.

The programme will gather evidence from both historic textual sources, as well as samples from excavated deposits and strata, with verifiable archaeological contexts with an aim to investigate the history, the origin and the technological development of the blue glaze or glass paste (as early as Han dynasty) on pre-Ming iron, copper and blue decorated high-fired ceramics.

The program through PHASE I Sample Groups 1.0–8.0, Topics I–III, aims to develop research protocols for objective research investigations on samples, with and without verifiable archaeological contexts with a view to reconstruct the technology and sources of productions of the Yuan and Ming ceramics whose archaeological contexts are no longer known. This includes the programme’s current topic on the potential origins of colorants, in particular ore sources of cobalt PHASE I Sample Groups 1.0–8.0 Research Protocol. Topic II; Sample Groups 1.0–8.0, Topics I–III, Chinese Ceramics from the Estate of the Heirs of Yamashita Shintaro (山下新太郎) 1881–1966 and Yamashita Ichiro (山下一郎) 1913–2011).

The goal is to produce significant research results publishable in peer-reviewed academic journals and presentable at international congress and conference proceedings. The collective research results within these venues may then feed-into the in depth development of BLUE PRINT Research Protocol 14.0–2015.01.03 which is planned to be officially presented to Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, the German Research Foundation (DFG, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), the ESF (European Science Foundation) and European Commission’s relevant funding bodies for funding the undertakings described in the BLUE PRINT Research Protocol 14.0–2015.01.03, and the BLUE PRINT Monographic Publication PHASE II (2017–2022) – PHASE III (2023–2028), including the programme’s proposed definitive twenty-four volume monograph on the Yuan and Ming ceramics, encompassing a comprehensive body of comparative materials from the renowned collections in the United States, Europe and Asia, including the holdings of the Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul, and those of the Sheikh Safi al-Din Khanegah and Shrine Complex, Ardebil, now conserved in the Iran National Museum, Teheran. 

References Cited

Cowell, M., and Zhang, F. K.
2001 Analyses and source of the cobalt blue pigments employed on Chinese ceramics, in Catalogue of Late Yuan and Ming ceramics in the British Museum, 601–5, British Museum Press, London.

Guo, Yan-Yi, and Qian, Wei-jun.
2005 An investigation of some Yuan dynasty blue-and-white porcelain shards—about new discovery of cobalt colour pigment of Yuan blue and white wares, in Proceedings of an International Symposium on Ancient Ceramics, 157–66, Shanghai Science and Technology Literature Press, Shanghai.

Krahl, R.
2011 ‘Tang Blue-and-White’ in: Krahl, R., Guy, J., Raby, J., Wilson, K. (edited) Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds, Smithonian Books, Washington, DC.

Wen, R.
2012The cobalt blue pigment used on Islamic ceramics and Chinese blue-and-white porcelain, Unpublished D.Phil. thesis, University of Oxford.

Pierson, S.
2012 'The Movement of Chinese Ceramics: Appropriation in Global History.' Journal of World History, 23 (1). pp. 9-39.

Wen, R., Wang, C. S., Mao, Z. W., Huang, Y. Y., and Pollard, A. M.
2007 The chemical composition of blue pigment on Chinese blue-and-white porcelain of the Yuan and Ming dynasties (ad 1271–1644), Archaeometry, 49, 101–15.

Wen, R., and Pollard, A. M.
2009 Comparative study of cobalt blue pigment on Chinese blue-and-white porcelain and Islamic glazed pottery, thirteenth–seventeenth centuries, in Scientific research on historic Asian ceramics, Proceedings of the Fourth Forbes Symposium at the Freer Gallery of Art, edited by B. McCarthy, E. S. Chase, L. A. Cort, J. G. Douglas and P. Jett, pp. 24–32, Archetype Publications, London, in association with the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

Rajput, S. A.
2015– The Origin of Blue And White Ware and its Development During the 15th-18th Centuries in Iran (a work in progress).

1 It is widely believed to have appeared during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) (Krahl 2011) or possibly earlier (Kessler 2012), before reaching the level of sophistication characterizing the Jingdezhen kilns’ underglazed blue-and-white ceramics.

2 Yin, M., Rehren, T., & Zheng, J. (2011). The earliest high-fired glazed ceramics in China: the composition of the proto-porcelain from Zhejiang during the Shang and Zhou periods (c. 1700–221 BC). Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(9), 2352-2365.