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Porcelain is a ceramic material often used to make tableware, household items, decorative pieces, and fine arts. It is created by heating materials (such as clay) to incredibly high temperatures in an oven (or kiln). This process gives the object strength and a glossy appearance.

An early form of porcelain was found dating back to the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC) (45). Actual porcelain manufacturing peaked in the Tang Dynasty (618–906 AD) when it was exported to the Islamic world and was highly prized for its white luster. Only China understood the unique chemical process that turned brown clay materials into white ceramic. This was a key international trade secret of the time (46).

The trade secret was eventually found out, but recognition is still given to its origin. Since China was the birth place of porcelain, “china” became the common name for porcelain in some English-speaking countries. European porcelain, including blue-and-white pieces, developed directly from copying these Chinese styles.