Is Pottery An Art? (the truth)

Is pottery art because it dates back to ancient times and has been elaborately decorated? Take, for example, the Chinese Jun stoneware bowl (see image below).

The bowl is magnificent and dates from the Jin dynasty, which ruled from 1127 to 1234. Is this, in fact, art? Isn’t this pottery? After all, it is a stoneware bowl thrown on a potter’s wheel when you look at it. And it has a purpose. Or can it be both art and pottery?

Is Pottery a Form of Art?

Pottery is considered to be a decorative, industrial art object. Think of pottery as a decorative mass-produced functional object. Pottery is industrial because it’s massed produced.

Pottery is utilitarian because it has a purpose. Pottery is decorative art where the design and creation purpose is both beautiful and functional.

Chinese Jun ware wheel-thrown stoneware bowl with blue glaze and purple splashes, Jin dynasty, 1127–1234
Chinese Jun ware wheel-thrown stoneware bowl with blue glaze and purple splashes, Jin dynasty, 1127–1234

The Applied Arts

All of the arts that apply design and ornamentation to common and essentially useful objects to make them aesthetically beautiful are referred to as applied arts. The applied arts are very different as opposed to the fine arts. And the two are often combined or overlap. One is more design, and the other is more decorative.

Perfect examples of applied arts are industrial design. These are mass-produced objects.

The Fine Arts

Fine arts are artifacts that have no practical purpose other than to be attractive or to excite the mind in some way. Fine art, as defined by European academic traditions, is created largely for aesthetics or beauty, as opposed to a decorative or applied art, which must also serve a useful purpose, such as pottery or most metalwork.

The Visual Arts

Painting, drawing, printing, sculpture, pottery, photography, video, filmmaking, design, crafts, and architecture are examples of visual arts. Many creative disciplines, such as performing arts, conceptual art, and textile arts, incorporate elements of visual arts as well as other sorts of arts.

The Decorative Arts

The decorative arts are arts or crafts whose goal is to design and create products that are both beautiful and useful. It encompasses the majority of the arts that create products for building interiors, as well as interior design, but not usually architecture. Ceramic art, metalwork, furniture, jewelry, fashion, diverse textile arts, and glassware are some of the primary categories.

Pottery is one of the oldest and most popular decorative arts, consisting of clay items that have been solidified with heat. Pottery artifacts such as jars for holding liquids, plates, or bowls from which food can be served are among the items created.

Contemporary Art

Contemporary art is art created now, in the second part of the twentieth century or in the twenty-first century. Contemporary artists live in a world that is internationally influential, culturally varied, and technologically advanced.

Modern Art

Modern art encompasses creative work created between the 1860s and the 1970s, and it symbolizes the styles and ideologies of the art created during that time period. The word is typically linked with art in which old conventions have been abandoned in the sake of exploration.

Pottery Development Throughout the Centuries

Prior to the 14th century

Recent excavations at Angkor Borei (southern Cambodia) have found a massive amount of pottery, some of which is thought to be old. The majority of the pottery, on the other hand, is pre-Angkorian, consisting primarily of pinkish terracotta pots that were either hand-made or thrown on a wheel before being decorated with etched motifs.

Glazed pottery first appeared in the archaeological record around the end of the 9th century, when green-glazed pot pieces were recovered in the Angkor area’s Roluos temple complex. Brown glazes became popular in the early eleventh century, and several brown-glazed items have been recovered in Khmer sites in northeast Thailand.

Animal designs were a popular technique to design pottery from the 11th through the 13th century.

Archaeological digs in the Angkor region have revealed that as the Angkor period proceeded, indigenous pottery production plummeted while Chinese ceramic imports increased dramatically.

Stoneware had been a prominent talent in Islamic pottery by the 9th century, with manufacturing spanning Iraq and Syria. Raqqa, Syria, produced ceramics in the eighth century. Fustat (near modern Cairo) from 975 to 1075, Damascus from 1100 to around 1600, and Tabriz from 1470 to 1550 were additional Islamic cities with creative ceramics.

15th Century

The albarello jar, a type of maiolica earthenware jar originally intended to hold apothecaries’ ointments and dry remedies, was invented for the first time in the Islamic Middle East. It was brought to Italy by Hispano-Moresque traders, and the first Italian replicas were manufactured in Florence in the 15th century.

16th Century

The oldest evidence of glazed brick is the discovery of glazed bricks in the Elamite Temple at Chogha Zanbil in the 13th century BCE. Low reliefs were made in Ancient Mesopotamia using glazed and colored bricks, the most famous of which was the Ishtar Gate of Babylon (c. 575 BCE), which is now partially restored in Berlin with fragments from other locations. Mesopotamian artisans were brought in to work on the palaces of the Persian Empire, such as Persepolis.

Colored and frequently painted glazed bricks or tiles were an essential feature in Persian architecture during the Islamic conquest of Persia, and spread from there across much of the Islamic world, particularly the znik pottery of Turkey under the Ottoman Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Until the 16th century, little volumes of quality Chinese porcelain were imported into Europe. Attempts to imitate it were attempted in Europe beginning in the 16th century, including soft-paste and Florence’s Medici porcelain.

None were successful until 1710, when the Meissen factory in Dresden invented a hard-paste porcelain recipe. Porcelain factories sprang established at Nymphenburg, Bavaria (1754), Capodimonte, Naples (1743), and many other places within a few years, sometimes with the backing of a local king.

From the 11th through the 16th century, Japan purchased a lot of porcelain from China and a little from Korea.

Iznik pottery, made in western Anatolia, is a form of ornately decorated ceramics that was popular during the Ottoman sultans’ reign in the late 16th century. Originally, Iznik vases were designed to resemble Chinese porcelain, which was highly valued. During the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent (1520–66), demand for Iznik items skyrocketed. Following the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman sultans embarked on a massive building project that made extensive use of Iznik tiles.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul (built 1609–16) contains 20,000 tiles, and tiles were extensively used in the Topkapi Palace (commenced 1459). As a result of this demand, tiles dominated Iznik potteries production.

Until the 16th century, little volumes of quality Chinese porcelain were imported into Europe. Attempts to imitate it were attempted in Europe beginning in the 16th century, including soft-paste and Florence’s Medici porcelain. In 1712, the French Jesuit father Francois Xavier d’Entrecolles revealed numerous complicated Chinese porcelain production secrets around Europe, which were quickly published in the Lettres édifiantes & curieuses de Chine par des missionnaires jésuites.

A hard-paste porcelain recipe was invented shortly after 1710 at the Meissen porcelain company in Dresden, and it was on the market by 1713. Porcelain factories sprang established at Nymphenburg, Bavaria (1754), Capodimonte, Naples (1743), and many other places within a few decades, sometimes with the backing of a local king.

17th Century

Conditions in China caused some of its potters to migrate to Japan in the 17th century, bringing with them the knowledge of how to make fine porcelain. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Dutch East India Company began importing Japanese porcelain into Europe.

During the era, Kakiemon goods were created in Arita factories and had a lot in common with the Chinese Famille Verte style. The superb quality of its enamel decoration was highly recognized in the West, and it was frequently copied by notable European porcelain craftsmen. In 1971, the Japanese government recognized it as a significant “intangible cultural treasure.”

In the 17th century, Stoke-on-Trent, in North Staffordshire, became a notable pottery hub. Wedgwood, Spode, Royal Doulton, and Minton all made important contributions to the evolution of the industry.

18th Century, 19th Century and Late 19th Century

Earthenware is a type of pottery that has not been vitrified and is hence water permeable. It has been used to manufacture a wide range of pots since antiquity, and it was the most common type of pottery outside of the Far East until the 18th century.

Clay, quartz, and feldspar are typical pottery materials. Terracotta is a porous clay-based pottery that can be unglazed or glazed. Its applications include vessels (especially flower pots), water and waste water pipes, bricks, and surface decoration in building construction. Terracotta has been a popular ceramic medium for a long time.

China painting or porcelain painting is the decorating of glazed porcelain objects such as plates, bowls, vases, or sculptures. The body of the piece might be constructed of hard-paste porcelain, which was invented in China in the 7th or 8th centuries, or soft-paste porcelain (usually bone china), which was invented in Europe in the 18th century.

Glazed ceramics played an important role in Islamic art from the seventh through the seventeenth centuries, primarily in the form of sophisticated pottery, and were based on strong Persian and Egyptian pre-Islamic traditions. Tin-opacified glazing was created by Islamic potters, with the oldest examples dating from the 8th century and discovered as blue-painted pottery in Basra.

Many Chinese aesthetic aspects were eventually adopted by the Islamic world as a result of interaction between the Islamic world and China. Persian artisans progressively relaxed Islamic restrictions on figurative embellishment, and painted figurative pictures gained popularity.

The introduction of white, or near-white, firing bodies in Europe, like as Josiah Wedgwood’s Creamware and porcelain, in the late 18th century, reduced demand for Delftware, faience, and majolica. Tin oxide is still used in glazes (glaze firing) nowadays, although it is combined with other, less expensive opacifying chemicals. Tin glazes are generally utilized in low-temperature applications and by studio potters, such as Picasso, who used them in his work.

Soft-paste porcelain was first created in Rouen in the 1680s, but letters-patent were granted in St.Cloud in 1702. The Duc de Bourbon established the Chantilly porcelain factory in the grounds of his Château de Chantilly in 1730; in 1740, craftsmen from Chantilly established the Vincennes factory, which moved to larger premises in Sèvres in 1756.

Sèvres’ exceptional soft-paste drove it to the forefront of Europe in the second half of the 18th century. The first soft paste, based on the Saint-Cloud recipe, was presented in England in 1742. In 1749, a patent was granted for the first bone china, which was further developed by Josiah Spode. The main English porcelain factories in the 18th century were Chelsea, Bow, St James’s, Bristol, Derby, and Lowestoft.

By the end of the 18th century, porcelain tableware and decorative objects had become necessary among Europe’s wealthy middle classes, and producers could be found in virtually every country, many of which are still in operation today. Early European porcelain reintroduced the need for just decorative figures of humans or animals, which had been a feature of different ancient societies, usually as grave goods as well as tableware.

Many of these religious figurines were still being manufactured in China as white de Chine religious figures, and many of them had made their way to Europe. Figures in Europe were almost entirely secular, and they were quickly boldly and artistically drawn in groups, usually with a realistic situation and a strong tale component.

20th Century

Bone china is a soft-paste porcelain manufactured from bone ash, feldspathic material, and kaolin. It is defined as pottery with a translucent body and at least 30% phosphate derived from animal bone, as well as calculated calcium phosphate. The English potter Josiah Spode produced bone china, which is known for its extraordinary levels of whiteness and translucency, as well as its excellent mechanical strength and chip resistance.

Because of its high strength, it may be manufactured with thinner cross-sections than other porcelains. It is vitrified in the same way as stoneware is, but the mineral properties make it translucent. From its creation until the latter part of the twentieth century, bone china was nearly entirely an English product, with production centered in Stoke-on-Trent.

Mintons, Coalport, Spode, Royal Crown Derby, Royal Doulton, Wedgwood, and Worcester are just a few of the well-known English businesses that produced or continue to produce it. The phrases “china” and “porcelain” can both apply to bone china in the United Kingdom, and the term “English porcelain” has been used to describe it both in the UK and worldwide. Fine china is a term that refers to tableware that does not include bone ash and is not necessarily bone china.

In the twentieth century, the Mingei folk movement, led by potters Shoji Hamada, Kawai Kajiro, and others, reignited interest in the village potter’s art. They investigated ancient methods in order to rescue native wares that were on the edge of extinction. Modern masters use old methods to raise pottery and porcelain to new heights of accomplishment in Shiga, Iga, Karatsu, Hagi, and Bizen.

A few prominent potters have been designated as living cultural treasures. The Raku family kept making the rough tea bowls that had delighted Kyoto’s experts. Potters in Mino then re-created the ancient formulas of Momoyama-era Seto-style tea cups, like as Oribe pottery, for ornamental and functional purposes. By the 1990s, several master potters had abandoned conventional kilns and were manufacturing classic items around Japan.

Raku Firing Technique Definition – What Is Raku Firing Technique? – Raku fire is a sort of low-temperature (low temperature) firing that is rather prevalent. While the pots are still hot and the glaze is still molten, they are withdrawn from the kiln and placed in flammable materials (raw materials), after which they are removed.

Studio pottery is made by artists who labor alone or in small groups to make one-of-a-kind or limited-run goods, with all steps of production often carried out by one person. It is represented by potters all over the world, but its roots may be traced back to the United Kingdom, with potters such as Bernard Leach, William Staite Murray, Dora Billington, Lucie Rie, and Hans Coper.

Bernard Leach (1887–1979) created a ceramic style that was influenced by both Far Eastern and medieval English forms. After briefly dabbling in earthenware, he changed his concentration to stoneware fired at high temperatures in large oil or wood-fueled kilns. This style dominated British studio pottery in the mid-twentieth century.

Hopi potters Nampeyo, Elva Nampeyo, and Dextra Quotskuyva; San Juan Pueblo potter Leonidas Tapia; and San Ildefonso Pueblo potters Maria Martinez and Julian Martinez are all well-known. Martinez and her husband Julian rediscovered the old San Ildefonso Pueblo Black-on-Black pottery production method in the early twentieth century.

What Is The Importance Of Pottery?

Archaeologists use pottery as a sort of artifact because it was significant to the past.

In addition to being used to prepare and serve food, pots were also a means of expressing one’s artistic self.

A multitude of methods were used by prehistoric potters to create and decorate their containers.


Rawson, P. (1984). Ceramics (Vol. 6). University of Pennsylvania Press.

Peterson, S., & Peterson, J. (2002). Working with clay. Laurence King Publishing.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments