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Art Through Time: A Global View

Converging Cultures Compare: How Can Art Inspire Technical Innovation?

Dish with Grape Design

Dish with Grape Design
Artist / Origin: Unknown artist, Iznik, Turkey
Region: West Asia
Date: Ottoman period, late 16th century
Period: 1400 CE – 1800 CE
Material: Stone-paste painted under colorless glaze
Medium: Ceramics
Dimensions: H: 2 5/8 in. (5.9 cm.), W: 12 ¾ in. (32.5 cm).
Location: Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Credit: Courtesy of the Freer Gallery or Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC


Porcelain Plate

Porcelain Plate
Artist / Origin: Unknown artist, Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province, China
Region: East Asia
Date: Yuan Dynasty, mid-14th century
Period: 1000 CE – 1400 CE
Material: Porcelain with underglaze blue
Medium: Ceramics
Dimensions: Diam.: 18 in. (45.7 cm.)
Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
Credit: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art/Photo by Max Yawney

How can art inspire technical innovation?

When one group of people wants something that another has, they have several options for obtaining it. They can, for instance, buy it or trade for it. They can also attempt to create their own version of the item in demand. Various people around the world have at one time or another become enamored of Chinese blue and white porcelain. In places like Europe and the Middle East, these ceramics were not only imported, but also mimicked. The Netherlands had Delftware, England had Worcester ware, and Turkey had Iznik ware. In each instance, the manufacturers sought to imitate the prized qualities of Chinese ceramics, while at the same time catering to their home market with local forms and iconography.

Questions to Consider

  • Imagine that you did not know which of the plates seen here was created in China and which in Turkey. What factors would you consider in determining each object’s origin?
  • The exchange of goods as well as artistic ideas and aesthetic values went both ways between East Asia and the Islamic world in the pre-modern period. How do these two plates reflect that reciprocity?
  • What circumstances might have prompted people in Iznik and other parts of the world to attempt their own versions of Chinese blue and white ware? Can you think of any parallel examples in the world today?

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Art Through Time: A Global View


Produced by THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG. 2009.
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  • ISBN: 1-57680-888-2