Antique Chinese Pot Buying Guide

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Antique Chinese Pot Buying Guide

Chinese culture is widely-regarded as one of the oldest human civilisations. When pottery was invented in the Neolithic period (5000-2200BC), the Chinese were quick to use and develop the technology to create pottery, black pottery and carved pottery.

In modern day, Chinese pots are mainly used for decoration for the home or museums and are considered to be works of art. This has not always been the case. Although pot-making did become recognised as a way of producing more decorative pieces, in the early days, it was seen as a practical means of making containers to transport all types of materials and foods.

Antique Chinese pots can be bought for investment purposes as well as for purely decorative reasons.

History of Antique Chinese Pots

Pottery is considered to be one of the first practical creations of mankind, and this creation led the way for thousands of years of human development. The earliest historical evidence of man using materials from the earth to create tools and utensils can be seen from archaeological finds of pottery. After the initial stage of pot-making when the focus was mainly on practicality, people did start to produce more decorative pieces. These decorative pieces included ornaments and figurines and were often inspired by the aesthetics of everyday life.

Antique Chinese pottery was sometimes made of clay, moulded into shape and then placed into a kiln for the purpose of strengthening, waterproofing and decorating it.

Porcelain, which is also a type of ceramic that is placed in a kiln, was also widely-used in Chinese pot-making. Porcelain tends to have a more of a shiny, brilliant finish due to the fact that it has high levels of kaolinite - a smooth, grained mineral - which is also used in the production of glossy paper.

After a time, the ancient people discovered that firing their pots and placing them under intense heat, would increase the strength and durability of the earthenware. This directly led to the discovery of a method called glazing which is still widely-used in pot-making today. Glazing was an important development, it meant that that the pots could now be waterproof and this was essential for the transportation of liquids. Glazing at high temperatures also has the ability to create patterns on the pot.

The pots made by the Chinese during the Tang dynasty (618-908 AD) look similar to many pots that are manufactured today, with the main difference being that these pots were not multi-functional. They were only used for tea-making, and the handles were often very small, making it difficult to pick up to use.

It was during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 AD) that the creation of more multi-functional pots came about.  These pots were used for all sorts of household tasks and were also much more beautiful to look at. The development of skills in using porcelain had helped this development.

Discover Antique Chinese Pots

As with many early Chinese creations, the invention of pots can be seen as one of the most important parts of human development. It is an obvious sign of how far ahead of their time ancient Chinese culture was. They were searching for the solutions to everyday domestic challenges, everyday challenges that we still face today. This is why the legacy of the antique Chinese pot has lasted so long and shows no sign of ending.

Being the owner of an antique Chinese pot is something that will give you a unique insight into how the ancient civilisation experienced their domestic lives. The ancient Chinese faced the problem of how to move food, water and other materials from one place to another.

Chinese culture has always been advanced. The antique Chinese pot is a perfect example of this forward-thinking mindset. The fact that the pot developed so much and that improvements were constantly being made in design, style and form are also signs that the Chinese were not happy to settle for the inventions already made.

The result of this need for improvement is to the benefit of the antique pot buyer today, as there is a large, varied market for Chinese pots.

The development of the pot differs from other Chinese antiquities because it manages to combine two conflicting yet valuable traits - style and functionality. The advances in antique Chinese pot-making during the Ming dynasty reflected this. The pots were more reliable and functional than ever before, while also pleasing to the eye.

Materials Used in Antique Chinese Pots

Ancient Chinese cultures used various different types of materials when creating art and wares. Below is a list and short description of some of these materials.





It is mainly made of the clay, Kaolinite. Makes up a large part of porcelain.

Gives porcelain its shiny, glossy exterior.


Consisting of tectosilicate minerals, it helps make up Chinese porcelain.

Feldspar acts as a flux, meaning that firing temperatures can be lowered.


Makes up part of Chinese porcelain. Common mineral in the earth’s core.

Has chemical stability, not affected by glazing.


Used alone, it can produce useful ceramics if moulded and put in a fire or a kiln.

Can be strengthened by firing and made waterproof.

Types of Antique Chinese Pots

Ancient Chinese cultures made different types of pots. Below is a list and a short description of some of these types.




Earthenware Pottery


Not very durable, it must be fired to be made waterproof.

The earliest type of pottery, evidence of it being used 10,000 years ago in early civilisations.

Tang Dynasty Pots


A coloured type of stoneware, sometimes called ‘Sancai’, which means ‘three-colours.’

Originated in Northern China, during the Tang Dynasty (618-911 AD).

Celadon Ceramic Pots

English translation of Celadon is green glaze.

Originated in seventh century China.

White Porcelain


Has a smooth texture that is similar to jade. Many of these pots have moulded decorations.

Made in large amounts during the Song dynasty (960-1280 AD).

Blue and White Porcelain Pots

Smooth, shiny texture. Very decorative.

First evidence of these types of pots being produced during the Yuan dynasty (1127-1279 AD).

Factors to Consider When Buying an Antique Chinese Pot

There are a lot of things that the buyer should think about before making a final purchase of an antique Chinese pot.

The condition of the pot is extremely important. Chips or cracks will mean that the value of the piece is significantly lower than if it were in a pristine condition. Look closely at the photos that the seller has provided and study those photos for damage or marks.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. In fact, it is advised that buyers do ask as many questions as possible so that they get a clearer picture of the age, value and condition of the piece. Sellers are used to receiving a multitude of questions, and are, more often than not, very willing to assist by offering helpful answers.

Check the seller’s feedback rating and feedback. From this information, insight can be gained into how the transaction with the seller may pan out.

Research the type of pot to be purchased. It is always good to be equipped with the most knowledge possible when buying any antique.

How to Care For Antique Chinese Pots

As with most antiques, Chinese pots require delicate and specialised care to ensure that they remain in pristine condition. They should be handled as rarely as possible. Too much handling of antique Chinese pots can weaken them significantly and may even lead to cracks or breakage.

When cleaning antiques, it is best to use a soft cloth or sponge. It is advisable to take a delicate piece to a professional for cleaning.

Accessories for Antique Chinese Pots

Once the antique Chinese pot has been purchased, there are certain products to consider buying that can protect the pot from breakage or damage.

  • Carry case - If the antique pots are going to be transferred from one place to another, it is advised that that be done safely, in a secure case.
  • Display case - Many antiques are bought for the sole purpose of decoration and they can really add something to a home or gallery. It is advisable to display antique Chinese pots in a glass case.
  • Cleaning products - A soft cloth for dusting and a soft sponge for cleaning are the best things to use for antique Chinese pots. A cleanser using a mix of detergent and water can also be used for stains and other blemishes that are difficult to remove.

Finding Antique Chinese Pots on eBay

Once you determine the type of antique Chinese pot you want to purchase, visit the Antiques portal on eBay, click on ‘Chinese’ and start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search.

Searching for Antique Chinese Pots on eBay 

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for antique Chinese pots. For example, to find an antique Chinese porcelain pot, type ‘Antique Chinese porcelain pot’ into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customise the results. Also visit eBay’s Search Tips page for more advice on searching for antique Chinese pots with keywords. If you can’t find the antique Chinese pot that you want, try shopping eBay Stores.


Pot making has been ingrained in Chinese culture for thousands of years. It is a big part of Chinese history and there are many antique Chinese pots in good condition on the market. Owning a piece of Chinese cultural history is possible with an antique Chinese pot. Once you have collected the information that you need, you can buy an antique Chinese pot safely and securely on eBay.

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