Extract

An Odyssey in Blue and White

Chinese blue and white has had an unparalleled influence on taste in East and West for more than six centuries. Every self-respecting Islamic court had its collection of this precious porcelain, but the Topkapı Palace amassed one of the richest in the world. John Carswell began his own quest in a cathedral in Jerusalem and pursued it to the sands of the Gobi Desert. Here he tracks the march of blue and white from southern China to the Mediterranean and introduces the cream of the Topkapı collection.

  • Replete with Buddhist good-luck emblems this 14th-century Yuan bowl makes powerful use of optical effects. (Topkapı Saray)

Sometime in the early fourteenth century – during the Yuan dynasty that followed the Mongol conquest of China – an entirely new kind of porcelain appeared, painted in underglaze cobalt blue. With hardly any precedent, this blue and white porcelain sprang onto an empty stage, a platform which it was to dominate in the history of world ceramics for the next 400 years.

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Issue 25, 2002 The Abstract Heart
£12.00 / $15.82 / 58.63 TL
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Buy the issue
Issue 25, 2002 The Abstract Heart
£12.00 / $15.82 / 58.63 TL
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