Dating of domestic china ceramics
The earliest pottery marks found on Chinese pottery are from the Qin dynasty (BC248-207), the Han dynasty (BC206-AD220) and the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280).Marks found on Chinese ceramics are significantly different from those on European antique ceramics.In China porcelain marks or pottery marks on antiques had mostly a different purpose and way of expression than those used in the west since at least the 17th or 18th century.Marks on antique porcelain - Differences between East and West Chinese antiques porcelain marks should be one of the last things looked at when trying to identify the age or authenticity of Chinese ceramics.Too often they do not indicate the actual period of manufacture and can only be a part of the overall evaluation. Pottery marks as used in Europe are basically a "logo", showing the buyer or user who made it.
If you are looking for information on Chinese porcelain you purchased, do yourself a favour and read this page first, before posting to internet forums trying to find out if it is antique or valuable, you could save yourself a lot of time.
Only very few examples of Chinese marks are known to exist on ceramics from times prior to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Marking on porcelain really started not before the Yongle reign of this dynasty, but more frequent marking did not begin until the following reigns.
The issue of Chinese marks can be summarized as follows: So how can we know where or when some ceramic item was made?
More often than not it is difficult to impossible to locate where in China a specific item was made.
The number of ancient kilns is staggering, and so is the number of marks - and the latter do not mention the kiln they were manufactured at.
With some specific items or decoration types, especially pre-Ming this might be possible, but with the majority of Ming and Qing porcelain items it is difficult.