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June 20, 2019

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Beautiful porcelain from the ‘Dark Period’

AN exhibition featuring blue-and-white porcelain from the Zhengtong, Jingtai and Tianshun reigns of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is underway at the Shanghai Museum and will run through September 1.

Combining the museum’s own collections, newly discovered imperial porcelain wares from Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province and items on loan from other museums and institutes, the three-month show aims to shed some light on imperial porcelain from this period — known as the “Interregnum Period” or “Dark Period” in the history of Chinese porcelain.

Over 30 years in the Dark Period, the dynasty was torn by political turmoil as two brothers battled for succession to the throne. Porcelain made during this period bore no emperor’s name.

The absence of historical records makes it difficult to know how much porcelain was produced during these years, which causes great confusion in the market assessment over these wares.

In 1988, an imperial kiln was discovered at Mount Zhushan in Jingdezhen.

Together with many important porcelain shards excavated in 2014, antique experts became engaged in great debates about this period, leading to significant advancements in archeology.

In addition to the porcelain made during the three reign periods, visitors also get to see some exemplary designs for the Ming royal families and civilian kiln products during the preceding Xuande reign (1426-1435) and the following Chenghua reign (1465-1487), when blue-and-white porcelain entered its golden era.


Date: Through September 1 (closed on Mondays), 9am-5pm
Venue: 2/F, Shanghai Museum

Address: 201 People’s Ave


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