Is the blue that bleeding out of the picture intentional?
The bleeding occurred during the firing of the vessel, in this case. Cobalt blue is a hard pigment to work with and potters outside of China often struggled with mastering it. If you look closely, there are black outlines on this vessel. That was supposed to keep the blue from moving!
Why is the blue bleeding on to the white part of this vase? Was that intentional in the original work? Or is it damaged over time?
The bleeding is not intentional, but it is something that happened during the firing process. The pigment you see is cobalt which can be quite a difficult pigment to work with. The black outlines you see were actually supposed to keep the blue in place!
Oh wow how interesting.
Isn't it! I love that this vessel was included to paint a realistic picture of working with complicated materials.
Wow as an example of how difficult it was/is. Makes the other pieces stand out more.
Absolutely! There is such a high degree of skill involved in the creation of these ceramics, but they appear so effortless due to that skill.
What is fritware?
Fritware is a type of ceramic material similar to the ancient Egyptian faience. "Frit" is a finely ground, glassy substance often made from quartz. Potters add an oxide to the frit which functions as a "flux" and lowers the melting point of the frit. This mixture can then be melted into a more fluid state and formed into tiles or vessels like you see in our gallery.
Fritware is stronger than traditional clay meaning that it can produce a greater variety of forms with thinner and more decorative walls. Fritware is also naturally white which, of course, takes color much more easily than a brown, earthenware body.
Why is the cobalt bleeding on this piece?
Quite simply, cobalt can be a very difficult pigment to work with. The black lines on this vessel were meant to help keep the cobalt in place, but perhaps the artist used too much blue or not enough black and it ran in the kiln.
Does that make it less impressive or valuable?
I would say that depends on the consumer. From a production standpoint this would certainly be considered a defect.
As someone who is most interested in cultural heritage, I love that we have this representation of the difficulty of the process itself.
We really love the 'Jar with Architectural, Figural and Floral Designs.' It says it is 'Fritware,' what does that really mean?
Fritware, which is also known as stonepaste, is made from finely ground quartz which is then mixed with small amounts of molten glass and refined clay as binders.
The material is naturally a brilliant white and so it was popular for the way it took color and provided a white ground.
Do you know if it was thrown on a wheel?
I believe that this particular jar was indeed thrown on a wheel. Fritware can be wheel thrown, hand modeled, or mold-made. The regularity and symmetry of the surface of this one would suggest that it was indeed created using a potter’s wheel.
Do you know what fruit one of the people may be holding? Or if the palace depicted is a real place or a fantasy/story?
My educated guess on the fruit is that it could be an apple or orange. As far as the architecture, it may be based in reality, style-wise, but I don't believe it depicts the layout of any real place.
Thank you for all this information! Have a lovely day.