The art of pottery is one of the earliest human practices, and few other cultures have demonstrated more innovation, craftsmanship and design in this art form than the Chinese. Some 2,000 years ago marked one of the most important developments in pottery production for both China and the rest of the world, as the country became the first manufacturers of porcelain - hence the use of the name 'china' for this ceramic material in some Western countries. China has a number of desirable qualities, including strength, elegance, and a brilliant white colour which can easily be painted and glazed. The global demand for porcelain led to factories being set up outside of China, particularly in Europe, which is now home to some of the most renowned porcelain manufacturers in the world; these include Meissen, Wedgwood, Capodimonte and Sèvres. China has been used worlwide for a number of different products, such as dinnerware, decorative pieces and dolls.
Thinking of starting a collection of Chinese porcelain? Here are the periods, dynasties and styles to look out for.