Skip to main content

Around the World in Blue and White

Selections from the William C. Weese Collection of Chinese Ceramics
Curated by: Natsu Oyobe, Curator of Asian Art
December 2021 — February 2024
Across UMMA's Asian Galleries


The technology and taste for blue and white porcelain originated in China in the fourteenth century, and quickly set off a worldwide craze that lasted five hundred years. Installed across four different galleries at UMMA, this exhibition explores that history and tracks the influence of blue and white ceramics across the globe.

Select Objects on View

circa 1660
tin-glazed earthenware (delftware)
1662 - 1722 (Qing dynasty, Kangxi reign)
porcelain with cobalt underglaze and clear glaze
17th century - 18th century
Ali ibn al-Hajj Muhammad
fritware with underglaze painting, and clear glaze


Visitors will find Blue and White ceramics throughout four of UMMA’s galleries:


Beaker vase, Ming dynasty (circa 1640), porcelain with blue underglaze painting, 17 3/4 in. (45.08 cm), Promised gift of William C. Weese, M.D., LSA ‘65


First commissioned by Muslim merchants living in China, blue and white porcelain found its way to Southeast and East Asia, the Middle East, the eastern coast of the African continent, and then to Europe and North and South America. In the Chinese gallery, see a grand display of these highly coveted items. Many of them traveled from China to the Netherlands via Dutch East India Company ships, along with tea, silks, paintings, and other luxury items.

Ceramic Screen in Wood Frame, Qing dynasty (early 19th century), porcelain with blue underglaze painting and wood, 17 x 11 3/4 in. (43.18 x 29.85 cm), Promised gift of William C. Weese, M.D., LSA ‘65


Chinese blue and white porcelains have been exported to Korea since the early 15th century. Korean kilns also produced regional porcelains with expensive cobalt imported from China. In the Korean gallery, see a magnificent dragon jar and scholarly implements used by social elites.

Japanese, Covered Imari jar with scene of young woman playing a koto, 1820-1850<br />porcelain, blue underglaze and enamel overglaze, 16 9/16 in. x 9 7/16 in. ( 42 cm x 24 cm ), Gift of the William T. and Dora G. Hunter Collection


Japanese blue and white porcelains rose to prominence as replacements of Chinese porcelains in the early 17th century, and continued to be popular exports in the European market. In the Japanese gallery, see porcelains in various forms and decorations that show mutual inspirations of the two global brands.

Kendi, 15th-16th century, stoneware with cobalt underglaze painting, 5 3/4 in. (14.61 cm), Promised gift of William C. Weese, M.D., LSA ‘65


Thailand and Vietnam long produced their own local versions of expensive Chinese blue and white porcelains. In the South and Southeast Asian gallery, find fascinating examples of these copies using clay and glaze local to those regions. In addition, salvaged pots from a late 17th century shipwreck tell the story of the vibrant global market and fervent demand for blue and white ceramics.


This exhibition celebrates the new William C. Weese Collection of Chinese Ceramics and the endowment to establish the William C. Weese Program for Ceramic Arts at UMMA.

About the William C Weese Collection of Chinese Ceramics

In 2020, UMMA’s collection of Chinese ceramics greatly expanded following a gift of art from long-time University supporter William C. Weese. Ranging from 3000 BCE to the mid 19th century, the Weese collection contains more than 1,000 Chinese ceramics and spans centuries, styles, trends, and technologies.

View the collection

Qing dynasty (18th century)
porcelain with glaze