Pater Gratia Oriental Art

Chinese Chronology and Marks

Chinese Chronology

618 - 907 Tang Dynasty

 

907 - 960 Ten Kingdoms

 

907 - 1125 Liao Dynasty

 

960 - 1125 Nothern Song Dynasty

 

1127 - 1279 Southern Song Dynasty

 

1271 - 1368 Yuan Dynasty 

 

1368 - 1644 Ming Dynasty

 

1368 - 1398 Hongwu

1399 - 1402 Jianwen

1403 - 1424 Yongle

1425 - 1425 Hongxi

1426 - 1435 Xuande

1436 - 1449 Zhengtong

1450 - 1456 Jingtai

1457 - 1464 Tianshun

1465 - 1487 Chenghua

1488 - 1505 Hongzhi

1506 - 1521 Zhengde

1522 - 1566 Jiajing

1567 - 1572 Longqing

1573 - 1620 Wanli

1620 - 1620 Taichang

1621 - 1627 Tianqi

1628 - 1644 Chongzhen

  

1644 - 1911 Qing Dynasty

 

1644 - 1661 Shunzhi

1662 - 1722 Kangxi

1723 - 1735 Yongzheng

1736 - 1795 Qianlong

1796 - 1820 Jiaqing

1821 - 1850 Daoguang

1851 - 1861 Xianfeng

1862 - 1874 Tongzhi

1875 - 1908 Guangxu

1909 - 1911 Xuantong

 

1912 - 1949 Republic

 

1949 -         People's Republic

Marks

Many different marks can be found on Chinese porcelain. Best known are the Imperial marks that occur on pieces for the court and related institutions since the early Ming period (1368–1644). They usually consist of six characters (sometimes four) in two rows that read from right to left and from top to bottom. The first two characters indicate the dynasty (for instance Da Ming, the great Ming dynasty). The next two give the name of the ruling emperor, for instance Chenghua (1465–87), Jiajing (1522–66), or Wanli (1573–1619). The last two characters mean 'made during the period of' (Nien Hao). This tradition was continued during the Qing dynasty (1644–1912), but by then the Imperial name could be written in seal script in a square, too. Well-known Qing emperors are Kangxi (1662–1722), Yongzheng (1722–35) and Qianlong (1736–95). Imperial Ming and Qing marks also occur on non-Imperial wares and even on export porcelain, in particular during the Kangxi reign. Europeans valued marked porcelain, while in China it was regarded as a tribute to former craftsmen, or was used to make imitations resemble the original.

 

Other character marks (using 1 to 10 characters; over 2500 different marks are known) and seal marks may have many different meanings: a wish for good luck, a date, a quality comparison (for instance, the character yu means 'jade', an owner or factory, a recommendation, or an indication for use by a specific person or in a specific setting.

 

Furthermore, emblems or symbols are used as marks: a lotus flower, a heron (the 'stork' on Kraak porcelain), a hare, a plum blossom, a bat, etc. They symbolise happiness, prosperity, a long life and other good wishes. The 'Eight Buddhist' and the 'Eight Daoist' symbols have a similar meaning, as do the 'Eight Precious Objects'.

 

Individual potter's marks are very rare on Jingdezhen porcelain, but they occur much more frequently on Dehua (blanc de chine) and Yixing pieces. Marks are usually found on the bottom of a piece, sometimes on the edge, or in the centre.

 

2010371 Imperial reign mark: Da Qing Kang xi nian zhi. (Made during the Kangxi period of the Great Qing dynasty), in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010371 Imperial reign mark: Da Qing Kang xi nian zhi. (Made during the Kangxi period of the Great Qing dynasty), in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010817  Single character mark: Yu, (Jade, (Yuan to Qing)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010817 Single character mark: Yu, (Jade, (Yuan to Qing)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010947 Single character mark: Qing, Celebrate, congratulate, good luck (Ming and Qing), in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010947 Single character mark: Qing, Celebrate, congratulate, good luck (Ming and Qing), in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010819 Single character mark: Qiu, (Autumn, harvest time, (Qing)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010819 Single character mark: Qiu, (Autumn, harvest time, (Qing)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.

201099P General four-character mark: Qi zhen ru yu, (As rare and precious as jade, (Qing)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.
201099P General four-character mark: Qi zhen ru yu, (As rare and precious as jade, (Qing)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.

201099L Four-character mark featuring Zhi: Cheng hua nian zhi, (Made during the Chenghua reign (1465-1487)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.
201099L Four-character mark featuring Zhi: Cheng hua nian zhi, (Made during the Chenghua reign (1465-1487)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010168 Six-character mark: Da Ming Xuan de nian zhi, (Made during the Xuande reign of the Great Ming dynasty (1426-1435)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010168 Six-character mark: Da Ming Xuan de nian zhi, (Made during the Xuande reign of the Great Ming dynasty (1426-1435)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.

201022 Six-character mark: Da Ming Cheng hua nian zhi, (Prepared during the Chenghua reign of the Great Ming Dynasty (1465-1487)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.
201022 Six-character mark: Da Ming Cheng hua nian zhi, (Prepared during the Chenghua reign of the Great Ming Dynasty (1465-1487)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010856 Six-character mark: Qi Yu bao ding zhi zhen, (Precious object of rare jade among treasured vessels), in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010856 Six-character mark: Qi Yu bao ding zhi zhen, (Precious object of rare jade among treasured vessels), in a double circle, underglaze blue.

201090 Six-character mark  "Qi yu bao ding zhi zhen, (Precious object of rare jade among treasured vessels (Kangxi)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.
201090 Six-character mark "Qi yu bao ding zhi zhen, (Precious object of rare jade among treasured vessels (Kangxi)), in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010743 Symbol mark, Artemisia leaf, in overglaze iron-red, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010743 Symbol mark, Artemisia leaf, in overglaze iron-red, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010C7 Symbol mark: Artemisia leaf, underglaze blue.
2010C7 Symbol mark: Artemisia leaf, underglaze blue.

2011669 Symbol mark, Artemisia leaf, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2011669 Symbol mark, Artemisia leaf, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010462 Symbol mark: Swastika in a lozenge, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010462 Symbol mark: Swastika in a lozenge, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

201092 Symbol mark: Ding incense burner, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
201092 Symbol mark: Ding incense burner, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

201093 Symbol mark: Flower, the symbol for purity, in a double circle, underglaze blue,
201093 Symbol mark: Flower, the symbol for purity, in a double circle, underglaze blue,

2010942 Symbol mark: Sacred Fungus, the symbol of longevity, immortality, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010942 Symbol mark: Sacred Fungus, the symbol of longevity, immortality, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2011340 Symbol mark: Lotus. Symbol of purity and one of the eight Buddhist Emblems, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2011340 Symbol mark: Lotus. Symbol of purity and one of the eight Buddhist Emblems, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010C227 Symbol mark: Lozenge. One of the Eight Precious Symbols. Symbol of Victory and success, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010C227 Symbol mark: Lozenge. One of the Eight Precious Symbols. Symbol of Victory and success, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010555 Symbol mark: Mandarin mark of honour, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010555 Symbol mark: Mandarin mark of honour, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2011582 Symbol mark: Conch shell, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2011582 Symbol mark: Conch shell, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010111 Symbol mark: The Éndless Knot, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010111 Symbol mark: The Éndless Knot, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010973 Symbol mark: Moon hare, symbol of lovers reunion, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010973 Symbol mark: Moon hare, symbol of lovers reunion, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010454 Symbol mark: Hare, symbol of  intelligence and longevity, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010454 Symbol mark: Hare, symbol of intelligence and longevity, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010108 Symbol mark: Pair of fish, one of the eight Buddhist Emblems and symbol of marital bliss, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010108 Symbol mark: Pair of fish, one of the eight Buddhist Emblems and symbol of marital bliss, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2011138A Symbol mark: Chinese bee, symbol of industry and prosperity, underglaze blue.
2011138A Symbol mark: Chinese bee, symbol of industry and prosperity, underglaze blue.

2010461 Symbol mark: Lotus, symbol of purity and one of the eight Buddhist Emblems, in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010461 Symbol mark: Lotus, symbol of purity and one of the eight Buddhist Emblems, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010259 Square shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010259 Square shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010742 Square shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010742 Square shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010189A Square shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010189A Square shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.

201094 Square shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.
201094 Square shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010151 Square shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010151 Square shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010622 Square shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010622 Square shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.

2010783 Shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.
2010783 Shop mark in a double circle, underglaze blue.