This Online Lesson is based on the pieces of Chinese ceramics that can be found on display in Gallery 274 and 275 of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The composition, function, and style of the Chinese ceramic pieces will be explored.
Chinese Ceramics: Temperatures and Glazes
This Online Lesson is based on the pieces of Chinese ceramics that can be found on display in Gallery 274 and 275 of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It is a display of works from the Charles B. Hoyt collection and Paul & Helen Bernat collection. Temporally, the works range from the late Han Dynasty (~300 C.E.) to the beginning of the Communist Era in China (1916). The pieces themselves range from earthenware vases to intricate porcelain decorative pieces meant to resemble finely painted bronzes.
Chinese ceramics are known the world over for being of such high quality that the term used in modern English for an impressive piece of pottery or fancy dinnerware is “Fine China”. The reason for this is the great technological advancements China made in the baking, glazing, and decoration of ceramics long before other cultures. These pieces gained a fantastic reputation in the West as they traveled to Europe via the Silk Road.
This lesson can be adapted for students in grades 6-8.
In exploring this lesson, students will:
- Consider the aesthetic and utilitarian importance of glazes in ceramic construction
- Learn about the varying classification of ceramics based on the temperatures baked
- Explore the beginnings of a long enduring Chinese art style
This discovery will require students to:
- Look closely at the art
- Examine the objects with prior scintific knowledge in mind
- Compare and contrast details in the objects
- Generate hypotheses based on observations and prior knowledge
Using this Resource:
- Art teachers and students will learn how the technological advancement of glazes allowed for experimentation in form without compromising function in Chinese ceramics.
- Science teachers and students will learn how Chinese ceramics changed as kiln technology and glaze composition developed and improved over time.
- World History teachers and students will have the opportunity to examine ceramics of cultural significance from the Han Dynasty to the Communist Era.
- Chinese Language teachers and students will have the opportunity to describe objects and imagery of the culture they are studying.
For sample and related classroom activities, download the PDFs available under Related Resources.
The objects in this lesson are just a beginning. We encourage you to explore the Museum's online collection through this web resource—or even better, to visit the Museum and walk through the physical galleries—to look for other objects that will provide further insights into Chinese ceramics.