Science and Technology of The Han Dynasty - Ceramics


Further information: Chinese ceramics An Eastern-Han celadon ceramic bottle with a lid and lug handles

The Han Dynasty ceramics industry was upheld by private businesses as well as local government agencies. Ceramics were used in domestic wares and utensils as well as construction materials for roof tiles and bricks.

Han Dynasty grey pottery—its color derived from the clay that was used—was superior to earlier Chinese grey pottery due to the Han people's use of larger kiln chambers, longer firing tunnels, and improved chimney designs. Kilns of the Han Dynasty making grey pottery were able to reach firing temperatures above 1000°C (1832°F). However, hard southern Chinese pottery made from a dense adhesive clay native only in the south (i.e. Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan, Jiangxi, Fujian, Zhejiang, and southern Jiangsu) was fired at even higher temperatures than grey pottery during the Han. Glazed pottery of the Shang (c. 1600 – c. 1050 BCE) and Zhou (c. 1050 – 256 BCE) dynasties were fired at high temperatures, but by the mid Western Han (206 BCE – 9 CE), a brown-glazed ceramic was made which was fired at the low temperature of 800°C (1472°F), followed by a green-glazed ceramic which became popular in the Eastern Han (25–220 CE).

Wang Zhongshu states that the light-green stoneware known as celadon was thought to exist only since the Three Kingdoms (220–265 CE) period onwards, but argues that ceramic shards found at Eastern Han (25–220 CE) sites of Zhejiang province can be classified as celadon. However, Richard Dewar argues that true celadon was not created in China until the early Song Dynasty (960–1279) when Chinese kilns were able to reach a minimum furnace temperature of 1260°C (2300°F), with a preferred range of 1285° to 1305°C (2345° to 2381°F) for celadon.

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