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European Attempts to Create Chinese Porcelain



During the Tang Dynasty (618-906 C.E.), China began to export china to the Islamic world, but it wasn't until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 C.E.) that china came to Europe. Isolated examples of Chinese porcelain that found their way to Europe during Medieval times were highly valued, principally because of their translucency. European potters made numerous attempts to imitate the pieces, but, since there was no exact body of chemical and physical knowledge whereby the porcelain could be analyzed and then synthesized, experiments proceeded strictly by guesswork.

Generations later, Renaissance alchemists were still baffled by the composition of the Chinese porcelain. Out of all the attempts, the Medicis of Florence and French princes of Saint Cloud, Chantilly and Vincennes were by far the closest to discovering the formula. Their attempts gave birth to a "soft-paste" porcelain that lacked the durability and resonance of Chinese porcelain. The formula was missing the base element of kaolin, still unknown in Europe.