The presence of ceramic raw materials in China led to the development of this art form around 11,000 years ago. Chinaware is often associated with the fine dining that occurs on very special occasions. These fancy plates, cups and other decorative items can be divided into several different categories depending on how they were made and what materials comprise them.
High-fired chinaware is a collection of ceramics that are fired in extremely high temperatures in a kiln. This temperature can be between 1,200 degrees Celsius (2,192 degrees Fahrenheit) and 1,400 degrees Celsius (2,552 degrees Fahrenheit). Hard-paste porcelain is one type of high-fired chinaware. The properties of this type of chinaware include strength, toughness and translucence.
Low-fired chinaware is still fired at a high temperature, but it is slightly lower than high-fired and then placed in an even lower temperature for the glazing process. Low-fired or soft-paste porcelain is fired at 1,100 to 1,200 degrees Celsius (2010 to 2192 degrees Fahrenheit) and then it is fired again at 1050 degrees Celsius (1920 degrees Fahrenheit). One type of chinaware created this way is bone china, which actually used bone ash in its original creation.
Earthenware is a type of chinaware that is made from refined clay plus other ingredients that give it a whiter body. This type of dinnerware resists chipping and has fewer breakages than pottery because it is less porous. Earthenware is also opaque.
Ceramics are chinaware made from unrefined earth materials like clay and sand. Ceramics are then processed by baking or cooking in a kiln. The clay is of lower quality than other types of chinaware and it does not become hard and glassy (vitrified) after it is fired. Ceramics are similar to earthenware but they are less durable.
Chinaware that is made of a single light clay and then fired at a high temperature is referred to as stoneware. This slightly gray cast is nonporous and extremely durable.
China is a nonabsorbent, nonporous clayware made of special white clay and cooked at an extremely high temperature. The finest china is typically thin, resistant to chipping, translucent and it will ring clearly when it is tapped.