Wucai Chinese porcelain
Wucai porcelain wares are referred to as 'five coloured' wares. The significance of using five colours is most likely related to numeric symbolism in China. The combination of colours usually consists of red, green and yellow enamels painted over washes of underglaze cobalt blue against a white porcelain ground. This ornamental technique was created and developed during the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1642 AD) gaining interest from the Chinese emperors who commissioned a wide variety of wucai decorated objects. The finest examples are generally considered to be from the reign of the emperor Wanli (1572 - 1620 AD).
The wucai and doucai techniques are very similar in that they both combine overglaze polychrome enamels against underglaze blues. The primary difference between the two stems from the application of the underglaze blue. With doucai porcelain wares the underglaze blue consists of more controlled outlines effectively working as a guide to the application of the overglaze washes of pale coloured enamels.
With wucai porcelain wares the dark underglaze blue is more boldly applied often as a more prominent underglaze wash to complement more vibrant overglaze enamel colours often enclosed within overglaze painted outlines in black, brown or red. Comparing wucai and doucai examples side by side, Wucai porcelain wares are generally larger in size with more intricate patterns and designs resulting in less of the white ground being visible.
If you have any porcelain that you would like to sell, then please contact Robin Newcombe, Asian art specialist at Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent.