Glassware

Glassware

Glass containing lead and barium emerged as early as the Western Zhou Dynasty. the lead-barium glass requites a relatively low melting temperature. It looks sparkling and crystal clear, but thin and brittle, and cannot resist sharp drop or rise in temperature. It is therefore unfit for making utensils or apparatuses. Often lead-barium glass was processed to make ornaments, ritual objects or funerary objects.

By the beginning of the Warring States Period, dragonfly –eye and jade-imitation glass was invented. Dragonfly-eye glass is prepared by adhering multicolor rings on top of glass beads, looking like dragonfly-eyes, thus the name. in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Period, glass techniques became mature and technical exchange with foreign country started. The technical process in making glass includes casting, twining, inlaying, etc. glass objects such as bi ( a round piece of jade with a hole in its center used for ceremonial purposes in ancient China), ring and sword are prepared by pouring melted glass into moulds.

In the Han Dynasty, glass manufacturing became poly centered, mainly in three regions. In the Central Plain region, Zhou Dynasty process was followed, producing chiefly lead-barium glass. In the Hexi Corridor region (in Northwestern Gansu, so called because it lies to the west of the Yellow River) lead-barium glass was also produced with traditional formula, adding sodium and calcium as flux. In the Linnan Region Guangzhou, potassium-silicon glass was produced in the Wei, Jin, Northern and Southern dynasties, regional separatist regimes hankered after importing foreign glass, in particular in the Northern Dynasties period, when the rulers not only imported glass, but also introduced western glass technology to China. In the Sui Dynasty, a eunuch named He Chou, drawing on the experience of green porcelain manufacturing, successfully produced glass. Glass in the Tang Dynasty was mainly high-lead glass without containing barium, but containing sodium sometimes.

Since the Ming and Qing dynasties, glass grew various in kind. In the Ming Dynasty, Yanshen Town (now Yidu of Shandong Province) was a hub of glass production, where the site of glass furnace ruins that had long fallen into oblivion has now been excavated. The Qing Dynasty was at the zenith of ancient glass manufacturing. Glass production at that time was double centered. In the south was Guangzhou while in the north was Yanshen Town. The imperial glass factory was known for merging together the glass process in the north and south with European techniques. The imperial glass was plain and unsophisticated, unusually exquisite, representing the achievements attained in glass making in the Qing Dynasty.

Beijing and Boshan of Shandong were the most famous places that produced glassware in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Glassware made in Boshan of Shandong was reputed as Boshan Artistic Colored Glaze and Boshan was famed for mimic jade, agate and corals. The glassware carving that combined practicability and decorativeness was especially famous for its fine design.

Glassware made in Beijing was carefully designed and was prismy and acclaimed as the peak of perfection. Mimic jade articles in Beijing looked genuine and the craft was really outstanding. The types of glassware covered traditional ornaments, daily decorative articles, birds, beasts, flowers, fruits, figural carving and so on, which were famous home and abroad.