From the Greek monokhromos, mono – one, khromos – colour, Chinese monochrome porcelain is considered to be one of the ceramic world’s great achievements.

Chinese monochrome porcelain is said to have its roots in the Song dynasty (960 – 1279). At the turn of the first millennium, China was the world’s most advanced civilisation and this epoch is known for the invention of movable type printing, bank notes, gunpowder, the compass and even the concept of the restaurant.

Early Chinese monochromes were black and white but very quickly, competition emerged. Kilns vied with each other to see who could make the most exquisite pieces of monochrome Chinese porcelain. In the Song dynasty, the emergence of Ge ware, Guan ware, Ru ware and Jun ware enabled a new burst of colour to appear within the ceramic production.

As the Song dynasty made way for the Yuan, dramatic advancements in the production of Chinese monochrome vases and indeed all forms of Chinese monochromes were developed.

While the production of monochrome Chinese porcelain continued throughout the Yuan dynasty, the Ming dynasty was when new glazing techniques were established. In the Ming dynasty, the most popular monochrome colours used by the imperial court were yellow, red and blue.

When the Qing dynasty arrived, monochromes were very much loved by the emperor and the court. New innovations within the Qing dynasty saw the arrival of new glazes such as peachbloom, teadust, robin’s egg, celadon and lavender, with Song-inspired glazes re-emerging such as Ge, Guan and Ru ware. Further development of enamelled glazes produced remarkable colours not seen before, such as pink, ruby, lemon-yellow, pale turquoise and lime-green.

Available Pieces
  • R1416


    A Chinese porcelain white glazed jardinière of rounded globular form with a short upright lipped rim, covered overall in an even white glaze, the slightly concave base with an unglazed centre.

  • 2. M5045


    Chinese pottery straw glazed ovoid jar and cover, guan, with four double-loop handles at the shoulder above an incised line repeated on the cover surmounted by a flat knop, covered overall in an even straw glaze falling short of the buff-coloured foot rim with a further incised unglazed line on the lower body, the interior covered in an olive-green glaze with three spur marks in the well.

  • 6. M4952


    Chinese pottery blue glazed jar, guan, of well-rounded globular form with flat base and short flared neck, covered overall in a rich and even royal blue glaze extending in large splashes on the interior which also has a clear glaze, the rim with three spur marks from the firing.

  • The Marchant Guarantee

    We take pride in all of the items that we list on our website. We guarantee the authenticity of all our products as described and you can also rest assured that prices on our website include packing, collection, shipping, delivery and insurance on orders over GBP £10,000 (applicable state, city or local import taxes or duties excluded).

  • 22. M4923


    –Chinese ceramic box and cover, he, with gently domed top encircled by two incised rings with flat sides each with a brown glazed dot to indicate correct alignment, covered in an even pale cream glaze falling short of the smooth flat white base revealing the body, the interior also covered in a pale cream glaze.

  • 29. M4751


    Chinese ceramic green glazed monochrome pillow, zhen, of ruyi-head form, incised on the gently concave top with outlines following the form, with further incised lines beneath the sloping shoulder, the fluted body covered overall in a rich and even deep apple green glaze, the flat predominantly unglazed base revealing the buff-coloured body, with an air hole from the firing beneath the ruyi-head point.

  • 31. R1075


    Chinese ceramic Ding ware cream glazed dish, pan, with flat base, short inverted foot and gently rounded sides, carved with a single lotus flower spray on a branch with leaves fitting neatly in the well with an incised outline, the flower and leaves with double and single outlines creating a three-dimensional effect, covered overall in a pale cream glaze gently pooling above the foot and creating a tear mark, the rim bound in copper.

  • 32. M5167


    Chinese ceramic Ding ware white glazed dish, pan, with gently flared unglazed rim, carved with a lotus flower spray and leaves in double and single outlines creating a three-dimensional effect, covered overall in a cream white glaze extending to the short foot rim and partially covering the base.

  • 33. M5166


    Chinese ceramic Yaozhou celadon glazed bowl, wan, of conical flower form, moulded with six lobes and gentle foliate rim, the interior with a pair of ducks swimming between lotus leaves on a wave ground, beneath a border of continuous lotus tendrils, covered overall in a rich olive-green glaze thinning towards the short unglazed biscuit foot rim burnt brown in the firing.

  • 34. M4730


    Chinese ceramic Yaozhou celadon glazed bowl, wan, of conical form moulded with two long neck geese between a central lotus bouquet with flowerhead branches, leaves, arrowhead, bud and pod on a dense comb-technique wave ground, the reverse incised with a single band and covered overall in an even olive-celadon glaze thinning towards the unglazed burnt brown foot rim, the base glazed brown in the firing, the foot rim with finger-nail marks.

  • 36. R1079


    Chinese ceramic Jun ware lavender glazed deep dish, pan, with shallow rounded sides, flat everted rim and gently raised lip, covered overall in a bright and unctuous glaze thinning in the cavetto and the lip, covering the base with a slightly recessed centre and falling short of the burnt brown knife-cut foot rim, the base with spur marks from the firing.

  • 37. M5212


    Chinese ceramic Jun ware lotus-bud form waterpot, jixin’guan, covered overall with a rich and even lustrous lavender sky-blue glaze, extending overall to the interior and the base thinning towards the light brown rim, all on a slightly splayed short unglazed brown knife-cut foot rim.

  • 38. M5176


    Chinese qingbai glazed box and cover, he, of melon form, fluted in twelve segments with naturalistic fold-over stalk, covered overall and on the interiors in a pale sky-blue glaze pooling in the folds, the base and rims unglazed revealing the high-fired white biscuit body, the rims of the cover and base each with an incised line to indicate correct alignment.

  • 39. M5184


    Chinese ceramic Longquan celadon glazed chrysanthemum-form wine cup, bei, of fluted form with foliate rim on a tall circular foot, covered overall on the exterior and interior with a pale olive-celadon glaze slightly pooling in the eighteen segments, the unglazed base and foot revealing the high-fired burnt biscuit body.

  • 40. R1114


    Chinese ceramic Longquan celadon glazed tripod washer, xi, or censer, lu, of circular drum form with two registers of relief drum- nail studs or bosses on three animal-mask feet with gently inverted rim, covered overall in a pale celadon glaze, with knife-cut biscuit foot rim burnt at the edges.

  • 41. R1115


    Chinese ceramic Longquan celadon glazed bottle vase, ping, with pear-shaped body cylindrical neck, everted rim and gently tapered foot rim, covered overall and extending to the interior and base with a pale light celadon glaze falling short of the brown burnt knife- cut rim.

  • 42. R1080


    Chinese ceramic Longquan celadon glazed bowl, wan, of deep form with gently rounded sides and short small foot rim, moulded with twenty-two relief lotus petals, covered overall including the base in a bright pale celadon glaze falling short of the burnt brown knife-cut foot rim.

  • M5120


    Chinese imperial porcelain yellow glazed bowl of deep form thinly potted with gently flared rim, covered overall in a rich and even yellow glaze.

  • M4942


    Pair of Chinese celadon glazed small vases and covers of guan form, each carved with flowerheads on a continuous scrolling branch amongst leaves above a wide lappet band with upright leaves and further flowerheads and scrolls on the shoulder, and beneath a triangular band on the gently flared neck, the covers with central raised flowerhead, again above a scrolling flowerhead band, the base glazed, the unglazed foot rim, rim and underside of the cover revealing the biscuit body.

Further information on Monochromes

Chinese monochromes took a starring role in state ceremonies because traditional Chinese beliefs assumed that ritual vessels must be Chinese monochromes of glazed porcelain of particular colours, representative of four temples in Beijing and the gods they represented:

Blue Chinese monochrome porcelain – Altar of Heaven (tiantan)

Yellow Chinese monochrome porcelain – Altar of the Earth (ditan)

White Chinese monochrome porcelain – Altar of the Moon (yuetan)

Red Chinese monochrome porcelain – Altar of the Sun (ritan)

The reign of Kangxi at the start of the Qing dynasty was when the techniques of Chinese monochromes began to mature.

The beauty of Chinese monochrome vases, indeed all Chinese monochrome porcelain was in the technical accomplishment, the finesse of the colours and the quality of the glaze. It’s testament to the processes developed to produce monochrome Chinese porcelain that the colours have remained as spectacular as they were the day they were fired.

Arguably the most famous of all the colours, not just of Chinese monochrome porcelain but of all Chinese porcelain, blue is almost infinitely varied and the cobalt used came from as far away as modern-day Iran – from the most pale clair de lune to the deepest shades known as Mazarine blue.

You should also check

Famille Verte

Objects containing underglaze blue with enamels of red, green and yellow.


‘Wucai’ Chinese five coloured wares, predominantly red, green and yellow enamels combined with underglaze blue and the white body.

Famille Rose

Objects of the aforementioned colour palette primarily identified by the use of a pink enamel.