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National Palace Museum

Pleasingly Pure and Lustrous: Porcelains from the Yongle Reign(1403-1424) of the Ming Dynasty (in Chinese)

  • Chief Editor: Huang Lan-yin
    Written by Huang Lan-yin
    Executive Editor: Hsieh Chen-hung, Huang Lan-yin
    translated (from Chinese to English) by Don Brix
  • Price: NT$850
  • ISBN: 978-957-562-788-1
  • Binding: softcover

The National Palace Museum houses a rich collection of high-quality porcelains fabricated during the Yongle reign, Ming dynasty. Porcelains are a symbol of human civilization. During the Ming dynasty, the superb craftsmanship and techniques, originally developed glaze colors, and artistic patterns of its porcelains facilitated frequent trades and exchanges, illustrating its unique artistic achievements (i.e., art containing the styles of different cultures being produced) and confirming the occurrence of cultural exchanges.

Firing techniques had matured in the Ming dynasty and featured unique characteristics. "Pure and lustrous, indeed pleasing to the heart" was how the Yongle emperor praised his own porcelains that he loved so much. The porcelains that best represent those made for the Yongle emperor are the so-called "sweet white," underglaze-blue, and red-glazed ones. Sweet white, an innovation of the Yongle reign, is notable for its tranquil and elegant character, injecting new vitality into the tradition of white-glazed porcelains. The forms of underglaze-blue porcelains, also known as blue-and-white, are particularly numerous with deep and magical colors. Red-glazed porcelains, with their lustrous and vibrant hue, became an object of imitation among later generations. Accordingly, literati stated "[Concerning works fired for the court during the Yongle and Xuande reigns]… ‘bristle hole' sweet-white glaze was common, [and] decoration done with cobalt-blue and bright-red glaze [was] precious," demonstrating the brilliance Yongle porcelains.

The Pleasingly Pure and Lustrous: Porcelains from the Yongle Reign (1403-1424) of the Ming Dynasty special exhibition introduces approximately 100 selected Yongle porcelains and offers specially made exhibition guide manuals that provide detailed descriptions of the classic styles of Yongle porcelains. This exhibition catalogue, divided into the themes of "Fired for the Court," "Interaction with the Outside," and "Tradition and Imitation," explains how porcelain-burning achievements attained during the Yongle and Xuande reigns influenced and mesmerized future generations, showcases replicas made during the Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong reigns (Qing dynasty), clarifies the impact of Yongle porcelains and subsequent replica porcelains on future generations, and elucidates the taste and preferences of Yongle emperor. By studying the diversified shapes, functions, and colors of the porcelains, readers will be able to learn about various lifestyles and cross-cultural exchanges, which will enable them to enjoy a multi-sensory experience and witness the uniqueness of porcelain culture.

Pleasingly Pure and Lustrous: Porcelains from the Yongle Reign(1403-1424) of the Ming Dynasty (in Chinese)
Pleasingly Pure and Lustrous: Porcelains from the Yongle Reign(1403-1424) of the Ming Dynasty (in Chinese)