Porcelain was invented in ancient China, so it's not at all surprising that Asian antique vases are especially coveted. Early on, Chinese and Japanese artisans mastered the art of making stunning vases from the strong, white clay. Before porcelain was perfected, the ancient Chinese potters also invented the celadon glaze, used to make ceramics and stoneware replicate jade's greenish glow.
During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) in China, illustrations based on lyrical poems and stories about birds, animals, fish, and insects adorned the vases in cobalt blue—that was the only color available at the time for their particular porcelain-painting technique. That's why blue-and-white designs have become a tradition in Chinese and Japanese porcelain.
The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), however, brought an explosion of colorful and innovative polychrome porcelain designs, with images drawn in fine lines of dragons and animals like l...
During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), painted porcelain began to be classified by its color palette: famille verte (green and iron red dominate); famille jaune (yellow ground); famille noire (black ground); and famille rose (mostly pink and purple). Around the same time, cloisonné enamel was used to decorate porcelain vases with chrysanthemum, lotus, peony, and rose flowers.