Menu Icon


| Grand Auctions

Chinese Ceramics: Sancai Glazed Wares

The term ‘sancai’ refers to a kind of richly coloured glaze applied to ceramics initially produced during the Tang Dynasty period (618–907 AD) in China.

Three colours

Sancai, meaning ‘three colours’, predominantly consists of three glaze colours - amber, cream and green. However, this triple colour association is a somewhat stereotypical perception as many Tang dynasty sancai wares also include both black and blue glazes.

Camels and horses

Sancai glazed figures and vessels come in a variety of forms, perhaps the most commonly associated being models of Bactrian camels and horses. They were generally used for funerary purposes, the vast majority of which having been discovered at the burial grounds of Chinese emperors.


There are a considerable amount of sancai glazed wares on the market. However, a large proportion of these are later copies of Tang dynasty objects. A useful way of determining genuine examples is to closely inspect the cracks within the glaze. The cracks occur as a result of the ceramic object’s body temperature falling at a slower rate to the exterior glaze after being fired in the kiln, causing the glaze to pull apart through internal tension. Genuine Tang dynasty wares normally have a much smaller crackle glaze compared with later examples containing much larger fragments within the glaze.

If you have any Chinese ceramics that you would like to sell or have valued, please contactRobin Newcombe, Asian art specialist at Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent for further details.