Ming Dynasty Porcelain

Ming Dynasty Porcelain

Ming vases are well known internationally for their sophisticated design and simple, yet beautiful decorations. They originate from 15th century China, when the country was ruled by the powerful Ming dynasty and are made from the finest porcelain.

Ming Dynasty Porcelain

Ming porcelain is highly prized around the world and it is easily recognized as one of China’s symbols. During the Ming dynasty, ceramic technique evolved quickly and kilns were able to develop a more refined type of porcelain. During the reign IMG_4648_resizeof Xuande, one of the biggest innovations was the preparation of cobalt, the element that gives Ming vases the beautiful blue nuances. Enamelled decoration was also perfected during the reign of Emperor Chenghua.

Another technique that appeared during the Ming dynasty is known as cloisonné and was borrowed from the Near Est. This technique meant that the forms of a vase were first made from bronze or copper, thus creating compartments (cloisons in French) which were then filled with a mixture of glass paste and different oxides, like the cobalt we mentioned before. The metal oxides fusion with the porcelain material and create beautiful enamels that decorated Ming vases.

This was a complicated process that required several fillings as the enamel shrunk. But artisans quickly found a solution and they devised a hybrid of porcelain and cloisonné called Duh, after the place in which it was first created.

These innovations made Ming dynasty porcelain famous around the world as China started exporting these beautiful vases to other countries. Now, they are sought by collectors everywhere because of their beauty and value.

 

Ming Vases

Probably, the most famous Ming vases are those made from blue-and-white porcelain, a distinct style that flourished during the 15th and 16th centuries. The blue color was achieved by using cobalt oxide, a technique developed during this time period. The images can be drawn by hand, by stenciling or by transfer-printing.

IMG_0256_resizeBlue became a popular color in Ming dynasty art (and is still used by porcelain manufacturers in China and Japan) because at the time, it was the strongest color that could resist the high heat required to create porcelain.

Ming vases feature a blend of different cultures: Chinese, Islamic and later on, European. The vase patterns often borrow elements from other cultures and soon, Ming dynasty porcelain became famous all around the world. This caused a big boom in the Chinese porcelain industry as the demand for Chinese pottery greatly increased, especially because of Europeans who started collecting the beautiful Ming dynasty pottery.

Common patterns included lyrical verses, different sceneries and images of birds, animals, insects or plants.

But apart from the well known blue-and-white models, there are many other types of Ming vases just as beautiful.

IMG_3043_resizeBlanc de Chine, as the name suggests, is a white Ming porcelain that was and is still use to manufacture pottery. It was first made at Dehua in the Fujian province and shortly became very popular in Europe where it first copied at Meissen and from there in other parts of Europe too.

Blanc de Chine is famous among other types of Ming porcelain for its perfect blend of glaze and body, giving it a milk-like texture, from which its original name came: “ivory white” and “milk white”.

Ming dynasty art featured even more styles, but blue-and-white and blank de Chine are the best well known. A French classification puts Ming vases into different “families” according to their color patters. Ming Dynasty porcelain can be colored green, black, red and yellow.

Ming Dynasty Ceramics

Ming dynasty ceramics were developed mainly in the Southern part of the country in royal kilns. One of the best known provinces for its high-quality porcelain is Jingdezhen. Here, the materials required to make Chinese ceramics were abundant as the province was rich in petuntse (china stone) and kaolin (china clay) and the many forests provided much needed wood to keep the heat up.

Ming dynasty art was not oblivious to its neighbors, but instead borrowed important techniques and art motifs. The Islamic influences are notable in Ming ceramics as there are many Ming vases that feature Islamic-inspired images such as the Arabic script and lyrical verses. Blue-and-white Ming vases and the cloisonné enamelware techniques have also been influenced by Islamic art.

Ming Dynasty Pottery

Ming dynasty pottery features some of the most unique ceramic art in history. Highly praised, Ming vases, tea and wine cups as well as plates and other types of pottery developed during this amazing period: the 15th and 16th centuries.

Here are some of the most famous types of Chinese pottery:

Sancai or three-colors. This type of pottery ware was mainly used in ceremonial burial and featured three main colors: green, white and yellow. Although these are the best known patterns, the number of colors used is not always limited to three. These Ming vases and jars were decorated with flower motifs using turquoise, red and green colors. The lines were bolded to imitate the metal strips used in cloisonné.

14_resizeSincai originated in the North and were made from kaolins and fire clays, fired at lower temperature that contemporaneous ware. Some of the most used burial wares feature camels and horses and were cast in sections which were then connected using clay slip.

Chenghua pottery. Developed during the reign of Chenghua, this style of Ming dynasty porcelain was often used to decorate small wine cups with chicken motifs. These “chicken cups” as they were nicknamed were highly appreciated by Chinese scholars and later on, by collectors.

Wucai (Five-colors). Unlike the more modest Sincai style, Wucai wares are bold, vivid and colorful , and feature floral and intricate patterns. Images of fish and dragons often appear on these Ming vases. The use of red and orange shades is also notable.

Yixing Ware. A list of the most important Ming dynasty pottery could not be completed without a cup of tea, or better yet, without a teapot. As Chinese scholars developed a taste for tea, proper Ming pottery appeared to fill the need. Yixing wares do not feature colorful Ming dynasty art, but they are famous for their nice precise shape and simple designs.

Ming Dynasty Vase

A Ming dynasty vase is highly praised in today’s market. Purchasing an authentic one could cost from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Collectors everywhere compete with each other to get the best prices and most importantly, the best wares.

Because of the high demand for Ming dynasty porcelain, many industrial produced fakes started to appear. Those who sell fraudulent Ming vases rely on the poor knowledge of their victims and on the “attractive prices” they offer.

Knowing how to recognize a unique Ming dynasty vase is now an important skill that every collector must poses. A good understanding of Chinese culture along with a solid knowledge of technical details is needed in order to become an expert.

Those who do not have the time and the resources to devote years of their lives learning about Ming dynasty art and pottery, can follow some simple instructions that will help them distinguish a fake Ming vase from an authentic one:

  1. Translucent and not opaque. True Ming porcelain made in the 18th century has one important quality: it is translucent and not opaque. Many people forget about this important easy to verify property of Ming vases.
  2. Look at the motifs. Ming dynasty vases will usually have some specific motifs, meaning that on them, you can see certain patterns and images. A most common image is that of a dragon. Flowers and fish are also well known and used images.
  3. Study the mark on the vase. Ming dynasty porcelain was strictly controlled to ensure maximum quality. The best porcelain was reserved for the nobility and featured an “imperial mark”. The mark was the name of the Emperor during whose reign the Ming vase was manufactured and they were written using Chinese characters. If you see something like “made in China” on your “Ming vase”, it is probably a fake and not worth your money.

Noel_2005_Pékin_tombeaux_Ming_voie_des_âmes_resizeMing Dynasty Art

Ming dynasty art is responsible for most of the beautiful porcelain vases we have today. Although it is mainly known for the ceramics it decorated, Ming dynasty art was developed in other fields as well such as painting and architecture.

But of course, it excelled in ceramics. Ming dynasty art is easily recognized, even by outsiders and armatures, thanks to its repeated use of some unique motifs, such as the dragon and the lotus flower. The colors are also important. If someone sees a blue and white vase, he/she will instantly associate it with Chinese art.

Ming dynasty art can be defined by finesse. The patterns were carefully drawn on the porcelain, most often by hand. Major artists contributed to Ming ceramic artwork and before the European caught a taste for it, Ming porcelain was already famous among Chinese countrymen scholars, nobles and merchants who collected the wares themselves.

Ming dynasty art used mainly four colors and their shades to create beautiful drawings on porcelain: blue, green, red and white.

Ming Vase Price

Nothing is more beautiful than a Ming vase adorning your coffee table in your living room. If you want to buy a Ming vase or other type of Chinese ceramics, you have plenty of options. There are many markets that specialize in Ming porcelain. However, as we have already pointed before, you need to know some basics about Ming dynasty porcelain to distinguish a fake from a genuine vase.

Ming vase prices can vary greatly, but in most access you should expect to pay a few hundred dollars. One of the biggest online markets for Ming vases is on Ebay, where you can find many models put up for auction.

You can determine the price of a Ming vase by looking it at its mark and then searching for more information online. If you cannot recognize the symbols (which are written in Chinese), consult a web catalogue or visit your local library for one. Look through the pictures until you can identify your vase.

After you know what type of vase you have, research its history. See where and how many were made. A Ming vase price can be very high for older wares. If you have an original Ming vase, you can sell it for a few thousand dollars.

Buying a Ming vase online can be a bit risky as it is easier to pass something fake as real just by showing some photos. We do not want to discourage you, in case you see a great deal, but it is important to be cautious. Here are some simple guidelines for purchasing a Ming vase online:

    1. Ask for many pictures showing important details. You should be able to clearly see every inch of the Ming vase you want to buy. Ask the seller to provide detailed pictures of the vase’s mark. The picture should be high quality and not blurred.
  • Make sure you only buy things that you can easily return. See if the seller agrees to give you a refund in case you are not happy with the product. This will make shopping for antique Ming porcelain a lot safer as you will not lose money if you buy something fake.
  • Be well informed. Always know what to buy! The strongest advantage a collector has is his/her knowledge about the product. Make sure you visit different auction websites to read about the history of the vase you intend to buy. Also, you should spend time learning to recognize different patterns used in Ming dynasty art.

 

 

If you have decided to buy a Ming vase, being well informed is essential. And doing research about these beautiful vases is rewarding in itself as you will come across some of the most beautiful ceramics ever created. Ming vase prices will probably go up in the future as they become rarer, so if you have one at home, you may try to sell it or just keep it for your own pleasure.

 

 

Southern Ming Dynasty (1644-1662 A.D.)

Southern Ming Dynasty (1644-1662 A.D.)

Southern Ming DynastyIn 1644 A.D. Beijing the capitol fall to the hand of the rebel Shun dynasty, some remnants from the Ming imperial family and court ministers has fled the capitol before its fall and moved to Nanjing, after word of emperor Chongzhen death, they established their power in south of china, declaring Nanjing as their capitol.

In order to prevent crisis the southern Ming court has chosen the Prince of Fu (Zhu Yousong) as the protector of the state, as he was the successor in the line after emperor Chongzhen sons, which their fate was unknown.

Eventually after getting more support from the strongest allies he was declared as emperor Honguang, after a year of reigning the southern area of China, internal conflicts involving a former warlord who sent his forces to clear the corruption officials in the Honguang court, Ming troops who were supposed to be defending against the Qing dynasty forces was sent to deal with him.

The Qing dynasty forces which started their conquest of south China, has arrived to Yangzhou, the city of Yangzhou with half their troops scattered tried to resist the Qing empire, but the city has fell, and was massacred, including the defending commander Shi Kefa, it is said that in the massacre more than 800,000 people has died, the Qing forces has arrived to Nanjing, who has subdued to her with no resistance, Emperor Honguang fled Nanjing but was captured after and was sent to Beijing to the Qing dynasty court, he died a year later.

Early Qing dynasty Porcelain VaseAfter the fall of Nanjing, Prince of Tang has fled to Fuzhou, brought under the protection of a sea trader name Zheng Zhilong, the prince of Tang was crowned as emperor Longwu in 1645 A.D. and lasted a year, after he was captured by the Qing dynasty and executed.

The southern Ming dynasty power has been divided and few emperors were raised in different regions,

After the death of emperor Longwu, his brother succeeded him as emperor Shaowu, he fled to Guangzhou when Fuzhou was captured at 1646 and was declared as emperor only few days before prince of Gui declared himself as Yongli emperor, both emperors claim to be the legitimate heirs to the Ming dynasty, what has created war between the two new emperors, after 40 days, Guangzhou fell to the hand of the Qing dynasty, and emperor Shaowu committed suicide.

In 1658 A.D. Emperor Yongli (the 7th son of emperor Wanli) who was pressed back by the Qing army over the years moving to the south west of china, and ending in the Yunnan province, he was helped by region warlords and supporters, in 1661 he was granted refuge in Burma by King Pindale of the Taungoo dynasty of Burma, and was permitted to live in the city of Sagaing.

After moving to Sagaing, King Pindale started to see emperor Yongli wanted to make Burma as his kingdom, and war broke between the two sides, the Chinese who have lost and was murdered in the order of Pye Min, King Pindale brother, all except to Zou Youlang (emperor Yongli) and his family.

The End Of The Southern Ming Dynasty

In 1662 an army from the Qing dynasty led by Wu Sangui has entered Burma and demanded Youlang to be submitted to them, the Burmese who didn’t seek for another battle, delivered the emperor, his sons and grandsons to Wu Sangui who was a Chinese general that played a major rule in the fall of the Ming dynasty, he is blamed for opening the gates of the great wall to the Manchurian forces, and after the fall of Beijing leading troops against the southern Ming.

Emperor Yongli was the last known claimant to the Ming dynasty throne, was strangled by Wu Sangui in 1662 A.D.

That was the true end to the  Ming dynasty including their last resistance as the Southern Ming dynasty, the empire of China was now controlled by the Qing dynasty.

We have some rare antiques from the southern Ming dynasty period offered for sale in our shop.

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Late Ming Dynasty (1590-1644 A.D.)

Late Ming Dynasty (1590-1644 A.D.)

Late Ming DynastyThe Late Ming dynasty period begins in the middle rule of Wanli emperor,

Three major wars that have happened through 1590-1600 A.D. are:

First, one leader of the outer regions in china has rebelled the Ming dynasty and allied with the Mongols to attack the Ming empire, emperor Wanli sent a force led by Li Chengliang who defeat the rebel forces and the Mongols and this campaign was over with overall success to the Ming.

Second, Japan has launched an invasion campaign against Korea, which involved 200,000 Japanese soldiers, emperor Wanli send forces to help the Koreans, he gave Koreans who came to china a shelter and defended them, and ordered his troops to be ready for battle against the Japanese army, in the first two battles his forces were crashed by the Japanese army, as they had an overwhelming force, in the third battle he has assembled 80,000 soldiers, this battle was over with negotiations in the favor of the great Ming empire, after two years another campaign from Japan to invade Korea was launched but after the great daimyo “Toyotomi Hideyoshi” has died, Japan lost its will to fight, and their army was crushed by allied Ming and Korean forces.

Third, another rebellion was raised inside the Ming borders, but was crashed by Wanli forces and the rebel leaders were captured.

In 1600 A.D. emperor Wanli has left the state affairs and stopped seeing his advisors and participate in morning meetings, he became occupied with building his own tomb and building his own personal wealth, taking funds from the empire and its people, his self centered late rule was the beginning of the fall to the Ming empire.

In 1616 a rebellion in Jurchen area, which was mostly occupied by the Manchu tribes, was led by Nurhaci who united all the tribes and conquered Manchuria from the hands of the Ming Empire, establishing the Later Jin dynasty.

In 1619 A.D. the Ming Empire sent an enormous force of 200,000 soldiers to fight the Later Jin dynasty smaller force of 60,000 strong, this epic battle is known as “Nun Er Chu Grand Battle” which resulted after 5 days of fighting with more than 100,000 casualties for the Ming forces and almost all of their food supply stolen.

Late Ming Dynasty VaseEmperor Wanli died a year later at 1620 A.D. buried in the special tomb he built for himself in Dingling, located outside of Beijing.

Wanli death, was the beginning of the end for the late Ming dynasty and from here things were about to go worse…

Emperor Wanli son ascended the throne at 1620 A.D. as emperor Taichang but has died less than a month after, leaving his eldest son to rule china as emperor Tianqi.

Emperor Tianqi ruled china from 1620-1627 A.D. he was 15 when becoming emperor, and like his grandfather late life, he showed no interest in state affairs and left all the governing to the eunuchs and ministers, having no living heirs, he died at 1627 A.D. and his younger brother was chosen to inherit him as Emperor Chongzhen.

In the beginning of his rule, he eliminated the eunuch Wei Zhongxian and Madame Ke who took control over the empire during emperor Tianqi reign.

With his treasury empty and corruption in the government he tried to rule by himself, what proved as a difficult task, emperor Chongzhen was very suspicious in the few talented people he left to rule china, and even executed his trusted general who basically held by himself the late Jin dynasty forces in the northeastern border.

The End of The Late Ming Dynasty

Uprising rebellions and the forces of the Manchurian led by Huang Taiji in the north eventually led to the collapse of the Ming dynasty empire,

The rebel forces led by Li Zicheng who established his own Shun dynasty, was ready to attack Beijing in 1644 A.D. , emperor Chongzhen sent his three sons to hide outside of the capitol and forced his empress Zhuang and her sister in law along with grand consort Li to commit suicide, while he tried to kill grand consort Yuan and the two young princess with his sword, Princess Changping and the consort both survived, but the young 6 years old princess Zhaoren died, both survivors has stayed in the Qing dynasty court.

Emperor Chongzhen has commit suicide in 1644 A.D hanging himself from a tree in Jingshan, the Shun dynasty forces took over Beijing but kept it less then a year when it was conquered by the Manchurian forces who proclaimed the Mandate of heaven and founded the Qing dynasty.

Those events resemble the collapse of the great Ming dynasty empire, and end the Late Ming dynasty.

although loyal forces kept the resistance against the growing Qing Empire.

read more about the Southern Ming dynasty (1644-1662 A.D.)

We have some rare antiques from the late Ming dynasty period offered for sale in our shop.

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Later – Middle Ming dynasty (1505-1590 A.D.)

Later-Middle Ming Dynasty (1505-1590 A.D.)

Antique Chinese Porcelain  Ming dynasty vaseThe later-middle Ming dynasty period starts at 1505 A.D. after the death of emperor Hongxi and the beginning of emperor Zhengde reign.

Emperor Zhengde, was the eldest son of Hongxi, but unlike his father he has disregarded all of the empire affairs, his empress and was reckless and irresponsible emperor, who was more interested in women and exotic animals, it is said he built an harem for pets, which he brought from other countries such as tigers, leopards, bears and others, and later he has housed many beautiful women, since his women harem was overfilled with women, lack of supplies has caused one time to the death of some women from hunger.

Rising of corrupt eunuchs during Zhengde period was common and continued on later period of the Ming dynasty, since Zhengde has rejected his duty as emperor the power of ruling the empire was in the hands of eunuchs and ministers.

Emperor Zhengde was fascinated by foreigners, and established relations with many Muslims and Persians, in 1518 A.D. he has launched a successful campaign against the Mongol raiders who attacked north of china, he declared himself as general Zhu and personally led an army of thousands, surrounded the Mongols raiders and defeat them, after this battle, raiding from Mongolia has stopped for a while, Emperor Zhengde died at 1521 A.D. from illness, he has died with no heirs to inherit the throne, so the new emperor Jiajing was his cousin.

Emperor Jiajing succeeded the throne at 1521 A.D. when he was only 14 years old.

He was known to be as a cruel and he has rejected all state affairs, residing outside of the forbidden palace and refusing to give audience to his officials.

He gave the empire affairs to be controlled by some individuals who eventually abused their power and corrupted the court, until they gain so much power over the empire that they have controlled all of the government.

Chinese Antique Plate Ming Dynasty Jiajing MarkIn 1542 A.D. an assassination of emperor jiajing was planned by few of his concubines who were tired of his cruelty, they have tried to strangle him by hair ribbons while he was held by other palace girls, they made a grievous mistake by tying a knot on his neck which would not tighten, the plot was discovered after one of the girls ran to the empress, this incident has caused all the women involved and other concubines including their families to be put to the slow slicing death.

Also in 1542 A.D. the Mongols from the north started to arras the Chinese in the north border and launched raids, until in 1550 A.D. the Chinese curt has subdued and gave them special trading rights in order to appease them.

Jiajing reign period was quite peaceful for china, and he ruled china for 46 years, until he died at 1567 A.D. apparently he drank overdose of mercury which he thought to be the elixir of life, his style of ruling, by rejecting state affairs and leaving the empire at the end of government officials and eunuchs is what brought the beginning of the end to the Ming dynasty, and was followed by his grandson and other emperors.

Jiajing successor was his son Emperor Longqing who ascended to the throne at the year 1567 A.D. after realizing all the chaos his father reign has caused to the empire he started to put things right, but as well as his father he gave to much power at the hands of the eunuchs and after a while, has proffered to chase after personal pleasures then be involved in state affairs, although he has reopened the trade with Europe and Africa, and even made a peace treaty with the Mongols agreeing to trade silks for horses with them.

Longqing reign lasted only for 5 years, and he has died at 1572 A.D. when he was only 35 years old, leaving his 9 year old son Emperor Wanli to inherit the throne, he appointed his minister Zhang Juzheng to be in charge on state affairs and be the dedicated advisor of his son Emperor Wanli.

Emperor Wanli was the longest ruling emperor in the Ming dynasty, and ruled china between the years 1572-1620 A.D.

In his early reign, he was still a child and the empire was truly controlled by his advisor Zhang Juzheng who showed great skill in ruling the empire, during those 10 years being emperor Wanli mentor and minister, china has prospered both military and economically in a way that was remembered only during Yongle emperor reign.

Ming Dynasty Antique Porcelain Charger Plate

In 1582 A.D. Zhang Juzheng has died, Wanli has decided to take full control over the government, he showed skill in ruling the empire and the economy continued to prosper.

By most of history books The Later-Middle Ming dynasty period ends at 1590 A.D. in the middle of emperor Wanli reign, however this dividing is unclear, there are some assumption, that the dynasty period is divided like the life of a human, First 20% is considered as Early period, second period is 60% considered as Middle period and last 20% is considered as Late period, however that is only a suggestion.

We have some rare antiques from the middle Ming dynasty period offered for sale in our shop.

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Middle Ming Dynasty

 

Early – Middle Ming Dynasty Period (1425-1505 A.D.)

The middle Ming dynasty begins at 1424 A.D. When Emperor Hongxi succeeded his father throne (Emperor Yongle), his reign was short and he died a year later after he ordering the moving of the capitol from Beijing back to Nanjing.

His own older son succeeded the throne at 1425 A.D. As Emperor Xuande which reversed his father decision and moved the capitol back to Beijing.

Middle Ming dynasty Plate Xuande PeriodIn his early reign, Emperor Xuande has assembled a 20,000 soldiers to fight his uncle, Zhu Gaoxu, who rebelled against him. The battle was over and Zhu Gaoxu has surrendered and died from fire torture along with his sons, it is said Emperor Xuande didn’t want to execute him, but his uncle arrogance has forced him to.

In 1427 A.D. Emperor Xuande has ordered his forces to withdraw from Vietnam, after a battle with severe casualties, along with raids from the western Mongol tribes in the north, which he successfully blocked, he maintained good relations with Korea, which sent tribute of virgin girls to his Harem, and improved relations with Japan.

In 1434, Toghon’s Oirat tribes in Mongolia has succeeded in their war with the eastern tribes and took over east Mongolia, then the Ming court tried to establish friendly relations with them.

Emperor Xuande has died at the year 1435 A.D. and his eight years old son ascended the throne as Emperor Zhengtong.

Because of his young age, he was easily influenced, especially by the eunuch “Wang Zhen”, and was looking for guidance and advice, the Empire in his early reign was prosperous and peaceful.

When he turned 22 years old, in 1449 A.D. he took the advice of Wang Zhen and led an army against the Mongols by himself, the battle was a disaster, and considered as the worst battle in the Ming dynasty history, which in result Emperor Zhengtong was captured by the Mongols and was kept as an hostage.

This was a point when the Ming dynasty almost collapsed, but the emperor brother  was installed to the throne as Emperor Jingtai, who haven’t paid the ransom for his brother, after four years in captivity the Mongol has released Emperor Zhengtong back to china, where he was granted a title of “Grand emperor” and was forced into house arrest by his new emperor brother.

Emperor Jingtai has invested his attention in inside matters, and as a result of his rule, the Ming economy has prospered and the empire was strengthen.

Emperor Jingtai has replaced Zhengtong son (Chenghua) as the crown prince and installed his own son, Zhengtong, which was in the forbidden palace at his house arrest was furious, after a short while, in 1457 A.D. emperor Jingtai heir has died in mysterious circumstances, and the Emperor was devastated, that was the time when Emperor Zhengtong has made a plot to overthrow his young brother from the throne, and he installed as emperor again, he took the name of Emperor Tianshun, he put his brother Jingtai In house arrest and demoted his rank, and after a month he has died, some sources say he was murdered by Emperor Tianshun command to the eunuchs, Emperor Tianshun as ruled the empire until he died in 1464 A.D.

Middle Ming Dynasty Porcelain VaseHis own son took the throne as Emperor Chenghua, who ruled china from 1464-1487 A.D.

During Chenghua reign in the middle ming dynasty, new government policies were made in order to strengthen the dynasty and reduce the taxes on the common people, however it did not last when the governmental affairs came back to the hands of the eunuchs.

Some peasant revolts were threatening to rise, but they were dealt with a fierce hand and were suppressed very violently, Chenghua start to establish spying institutions that were dealing in punishment and torture to whoever they suspected in treason.

Chenghua had an imperial concubine name “Lady Wan”, when she got pregnant from him, she became his favorite consort, but the child died soon after, little did Chenghua knew, that Lady Wan and the eunuchs has conspired against him, preventing him to bear any children, and even going as far as poisoning mother and child if a birth had accured.

In 1475 A.D. Emperor Chenghua discovered he has a living son who survived and was raised in secrecy, when Chenghua died in 1487 A.D. after ruling China for 23 Years, his son was installed as Emperor Hongzhi.

Emperor Hongzhi is considered as very wise and peaceful Emperor, he was monogamist and had only one empress and no concubines.

He Ruled China between 1487-1505 A.D. and was involved personally in all states affairs, ruling wisely and strengthening the Ming empire economically and the populace has prospered, he is considered as one of the greatest emperors during the Ming dynasty along with his ancestors Emperor Hongwu and Emperor Yongle.

The middle ming dynasty is divided by some into two periods, the early – middle ming dynasty (1425-1505 A.D.) and the late – middle Ming dynasty (1505-1590 A.D.).

We have some rare antiques from the middle Ming dynasty period offered for sale in our shop.

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Early Ming Dynasty

Early Ming Dynasty (1368-1424 A.D)


The early Ming dynasty was the beginning of a revolution to change China and free it from the mongol suppressor.

The Ming dynasty was founded at 1368 A.D. by Zhu Yuanzhang who was the leader of a peasant rebellion against the Yuan dynasty.

Zhu Yuanzhang was a peasant who joined the forces of the rebels against the Mongols, he has advanced in the ranks and when the warlord “Guo ziyi” died, Zhu has took over the rebel army, establishing a military base in the conquered city Jiqing at 1356 A.D.

Early Ming DynastyThrough the years of the rebellion Zhu Yuanzhang army force has been increased as well military and economically, while the Mongol forces of the Yuan dynasty was decreasing, in 1368 he has conquered Dadu (today Beijing), which was the capital of the Yuan dynasty, and proclaimed the Mandate of Heaven, declaring himself as Emperor Hongwu, and founding the Ming dynasty.

After seizing power from the Mongols and conquering all of china, Emperor Hongwu has established new rules to ease the burden of the peasants, his new society rules was build upon punishment and prevention of corruption especially by the court officials, he has given lands to young farmers who arrived to adultery and order to reconstruct canals, buildings and plant trees.

Being a rebel leader, he knew that the threat from the Mongols is not yet finished, so he has invested in the military as well, using a system that has been used during the Sui and Tang dynasties, he kept a powerful army that consisted more than 1,000,000 soldiers, divided to “guard battalions”, each military unit consisted 5600 soldiers divided to five battalions and ten companies.

In times of war the troops has been sent all around china by the war ministry orders, only than commanders were appointed and once the war was finished the army was divided again into small groups which were sent to their districts, while the commander returned his authority to the empire, what has prevented from those individual warlords to hold too much power.

During the early Ming dynasty, Emperor Hongwu was infamous for massacres of many people, he was very paranoid of a rebellion to rise up against him, and so wherever he saw doubt he used to order the killing of the so called threat, it is said he used many torture methods such as flaying and slow slicing of humans, he expected everyone to obey and respect his rule, and even his advisors who criticize him, sometimes found their death.

Emperor Hongwu tried to keep all the power over the empire in his hands, and dismissed and execute many eunuchs from the court, preventing others from administrations roles, he has succeed to establish a lot of power in his hands, and took control almost over all state affairs.

During his late years he became very paranoid and order to execute so many people that were close to him, including their families, he has distribute his own written warnings to the Chinese people demanding them to behave or they will feel the horrible consequences if not.

Emperor Hongwu has died at 1398 A.D. leaving his grandson as a successor to the throne, Emperor Jianwen.

Early Ming Dynasty VaseEmperor Jianwen reigned for short period over china from the years 1398-1402 A.D. in the beginning of his reign he has suppressed many feudal lords including his uncle Zhu di, who arrived to Nanjing to offer respect to his father emperor Hongwu and was prevented of that by emperor Jianwen, he left Nanjing and raised an army leading a rebellion with a self defense slogan which earned him popular support from the commoners and generals as one, he was a great experienced military commander, and used many tactics defeating Jianwen armies.

In 1402 Zhu di has decided on a bold action and start marching to Nanjing (capitol city), he has conquered Nanjing at the same year and declared himself as emperor, the fate of Jianwen is unknown and full with rumors.

Zhu di was the fourth son of Emperor Hongwu, he has declared himself as Emperor Yongle at 1402 moving the capitol from Nanjing to Beijing constructing the Forbidden palace, and repairing the Grand canal of china.

Emperor Yongle has secured the northern border of china against the Mongols, using the help of general Xu Da who was his father in law.

During earlyMing dynasty while emperor Yongle  was on the throne, he used his power to heal china from the late rebellion, suppressing jianwen supporters and stabilize himself as the legitimate emperor.

Emperor Yongle was perhaps the only emperor who ever ordered the “Extermination of the ten agnate”, so horrible punishment, inflicted on jianwen supporter “Fang Xiaoru”  for insulting the emperor and refusing to write inaugural address, he was threatened with the Extermination of nine agnate, meaning killing him and his family up to nine agnates.

“Fang Xiaoru” told the emperor, why only nine? Make it ten, and his wish was granted including his students and peers as the 10th circle, it is said that 873 people were executed as a punishment.

Emperor Yongle is also known for sponsoring the eunuch “Zheng He” expeditions overseas, establishing good relations with Tibet and his economic, military and educational reforms had a great benefits for the people.

he is remembered very much for his cruelty like his father, it is also said that in 1420 A.D. after his favorite concubine was poisoned, he has ordered 2800 ladies for the slow slicing death, while he sat and watch.

Even Though all of this, Emperor Yongle has been successful with holding back the Mongol threat, he is remembered for preserving the Chinese culture, building incredible monuments such as the porcelain tower in Nanjing, and working hard to preserve his father work.

He Died at 1424 A.D. leaving his son Emperor Hongxi to rule china.

The Ming dynasty period is divided into Three or four periods in most scholars and history books, the reason for the division into those period of years is not quite known, there are some estimations, but as far as most history books refer, this period above, from 1368-1424 is considered as Early Ming dynasty.

We have some rare antiques from the early Ming dynasty period offered for sale in our shop.

Click here to see our early Ming dynasty porcelain items.

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The Empire of the Great Ming (1368-1644 A.D.)

The Empire of the great Ming, started as a rebellion against the Mongols from the Yuan dynasty, the rebel leader “Zhu yuanzhang” also known as “Emperor Hongwu” was the founder of the dynasty, This is the last dynasty in the history of china that was ruled by ethnic Han people.

 Zhu Yuanzhang was born as a poor peasant and joined the rebel army, “the Red turbans”, during the years he was promoted to be a commander, and his army joined forces with other rebels against the Yuan dynasty, conquering much of china from the hands of the Mongols.

in 1368 A.D. he has claimed the mandate of heaven, announcing a new dynasty “The Great Ming Dynasty”.

Emperor Hongwu has ruled china between the years 1368-1398 A.D, he made Nanjing as his capitol, after razing to ground the Yuan palaces in Dadu.

 he has created a new Confucian laws, and reestablish some laws and military system similar to the Tang dynasty, after his death, at 1398 A.D, he had announced his grandson to be his successor as “emperor Jianweng”, which ruled china from 1398-1402 A.D.

 when emperor jianweng started to rule, he had a conflict with Zhu Di one of Hongwu strongest sons, jianweng has arrested many of his associates, and Zhu Di plotted a rebellion which started a civil war for 3 years, until the palace in Nanjing was burned to ground along with emperor jianweng,

Zhu Di has announced himself as the new Emperor and ruled as “Emperor Yongle”, he established his new capitol in Beijing, and reversed many of his father rules, expanding the Chinese trade, he had order to build a new fleet, Emperor Yongle reign has lasted from 1402-1424 A.D. his son Emperor Hongxi was his successor, although he died a year later at 1425 A.D, and Emperor Xuande, his son, became the ruler of china, his ruling time is considered as a peaceful and successful, it lasted until the Year 1435 A.D, when his own son proceeded him, as Emperor  Zhengtong, which his reign lasted until 1449 A.D, when he was captured by the Mongols at a battle he led himself, and his own brother took the throne, the Mongols who saw no advantage in keeping him as captive while his brother “emperor Jingtai”  rules china, has set him free, and he was put in house arrest, and got a title has grand emperor, Emperor Zhengtong has took back the throne from his brother after 7 years of house arrest, and renamed himself as Emperor Tianshun, his reign lasted from 1457-1464 A.D.

His own son was his successor as “Emperor Changua”  from 1464 A.D. until he died at 1487 A.D, the story says there were a conspiracy in the imperial court by Lady Wan (Changua Concubine)  and some of the eunuchs to eliminate the heir for the throne, they used to do abortions for the ladies emperor Changua was having, and went as far as poisoning them if a birth of a child would threat their plans, Changua discovered at the year 1475 A.D. that he does have a son and he announced him as his successor, “Emperor Hongzhi”, who ruled peacefully over china between 1487-1505 A.D, leaving one living son to take the throne as “Emperor Zhengde” who died childless at 1521 A.D, leaving the throne to his cousin, “Emperor Jiajing”  who was known to be a cruel ruler and a self centered man, leaving the internal affairs of the kingdom to his advisors, and moved to live in isolation outside of the forbidden palace, his reign was the 2nd longest in the Ming dynasty history, and he ruled china until 1567 A.D.

“Emporer Longqing” the son of “Emperor Jiajing” took the throne at 1567 A.D, realizing his father left china corrupted and in disarray, he tried to reform a new government that would improve the bad situation the empire has got into, unfortunately he died 5 years later at 1572 A.D, leaving his son the 9 year old “Emperor Wanli” to rule china.

Emperor Wanli period was the longest in Ming dynasty history, he ruled china for 48 years, during his first years of reign he was aided by a nobleman name “Zhang Juzheng” and china prospered economically and military, in the middle years of his reign he helped the Korea in a fight against Japan.

In the end of his reigning, Emperor Wanli has left the court affairs, and refused to see his advisors, even for important meetings, in 1619 A.D, Jurchen people was united under Nurhaci, he tried to create the Later Jin dynasty, winning a great battle against the Ming dynasty forces.

After emperor Wanli death at 1620 A.D, his eldest son took the throne only he died one month after, leaving the throne to his own son “Emperor Tianqi”, who died 7 years later at 1627 A.D. leaving his younger brother to rule china as Emperor Chongzhen who was the 16th and last emperor of the Ming dynasty, he ruled china until 1644 A.D, during his reign a rebellion was growing while a threat from Manchuria in the north, the Ming army forces was having difficulties, eventually a treachery from within the city of Beijing led to the collapse of the empire, when someone opened the gates to the rebel army led by Li Zicheng, Emperor Chongzhen had hanged himself from a tree in the forbidden palace garden, while the Shun dynasty took over Beijing, only to lose it a year later to Manchurian forces, who has founded the Qing dynasty.

Although the Ming dynasty resistance lasted until 1662 A.D, as Southern Ming dynasty, they have lost the control over china in the year 1644 A.D.