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Porcelain of Chairman Mao
As the name suggests, Mao porcelain is the porcelain made exclusively for Chairman Mao. It generally refers to all the porcelain products once used by Chairman Mao since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. In a narrow sense, it is the eggshell porcelain for Chairman Mao’s daily use that was produced in Liling of Hunan Province and Jingdezhen of Jiangxi Province since the 1970s. Exquisitely designed and assiduously refined, they were meticulously produced on high quality regardless of cost. Liling porcelain made in 1974, with a high level of rarity, was highly favored by Chairman Mao.
Mao porcelain has developed the technical characteristics of “snow-like purity, jade-like gentleness, mirror-like brightness, paper-like thinness and chime stone-like sound”, representing the highest level of China’s porcelain craftsmanship in specific periods of history. It has set many records, such as the clay for porcelain making, raw materials for porcelain painting, and delicate painting. The rare clay used to make Mao porcelain, called Daqiuni which takes the shape of balls in different sizes, was only distributed in Hunan’s Hongjiang and can no longer be found now. The porcelain adopted the under-glaze colored pigments as raw painting materials, such as uranium oxide in agate red, sea blue, grass green, black, brown which can bear high temperature. Bold innovation has been made on porcelain making in which the under-glaze method is even applied to the bottom of the porcelain to get the effect of fine-grained body. In addition, patterns of each flower on the porcelain bowls are identical, all of which are noble, elegant, and breathtaking.
From 1958 to 1974, Liling Kiln was assigned the mission of designing and making porcelain for Chairman Mao for four times. Liling-made Mao porcelain has four distinctive features. Firstly, bringing together the most excellent porcelain makers at that time including porcelain masters and artisans, the unprecedented Mao porcelain is the masterpiece of their painstaking efforts, close collaboration, and collective wisdom. Secondly, the porcelain, like products from government official kilns in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), is acclaimed as the greatest masterpiece of Chinese porcelain. Even superior to the two kilns in craftsmanship, it is highly valued by collectors. Thirdly, tailor-made for Chairman Mao, the porcelain pieces not only contain the great man’s personal symbol but also imply rich political, historical, and cultural connotations. In this way, any other porcelain cannot be comparable. Finally, the double-faced patterns of plum blossoms, Chinese rose, lotus, chrysanthemum, and blue chrysanthemum are fresh, refined and unique, carrying deep meanings and epoch characteristics. There is no doubt that “Chairman Mao” porcelain is of great appreciation and collection value. The porcelain is as crystal as jade. The thickness of the bowls is less than one millimeter. Under the shining rays, they are nearly transparent. The structure is firm and dense. The sound is like pleasant chime music. The craftsmanship is unrivaled and the appearance is extremely exquisite.