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Ancient pottery in China dates back to Paleolithic culture.In 2012, scientists announced that fragments of Xianrendong Cave Pottery (Jiangxi province) had been carbon-dated to 18,000 BCE, making them the oldest known pots in the world.(See: Oldest Stone Age Art.) The next oldest ceramic art from China (dating to 16,000 BCE) is the cache of Yuchanyan Cave pottery from Hunan Province.(For contemporaneous works outside China, see the independently instigated Vela Spila pottery from Croatia, and the Chinese-influenced Amur River Basin Pottery in Russia's Far East.By 3000 BCE, these Stone Age ceramics exemplified a craftsmanship and elegance which was quite exceptional for the time.Closely interlinked with social status, as evidenced by the presence of fine pottery, jade carving and other precious objects in the burial mounds of prosperous individuals, this ceramic form of Chinese art was further enhanced by the early development of bronze, and Chinese lacquering techniques.
For details, see: Neolithic Art in China (7500-2000 BCE).
Also, as prosperity increased and family groups coalesced to form new cities and principalities, a new market sprang up for the replacement of vessels and other objects cast in bronze to be made instead from cheaper clay, especially for home or funerary use.
This expansion of the ceramics industry led to the emergence of a more streamlined mass-production process involving a clearer division of labour and facilitating greater use of lacquerware, molds, stamps and more elaborate methods of decoration.
In spite of this, arts of the Six Dynasties Period continued to develop in the area of Chinese painting, calligraphy, printmaking (via the invention of woodblock printing), and sculpture.
In the field of ceramics, the Six Dynasties period is chiefly known for developments in the production of "Yueh ware" - a class of high-fired porcelaineous stoneware marked by a range of coloured glazes, varying from shades of green (known as Celadon ware), to hues of yellow and blue.
Potters created Yueh ware by using iron oxide as the glaze colouring agent and firing the clay in a reduction atmosphere over 1200 degrees centigrade.