The earliest glass containers discovered in China began in the late Spring and Autumn period and the early warring States period. During this period, there were only a small number of glass containers and a single variety, with only dragonfly eye-shaped glass beads and small pieces of glass embedded in the sword case. The number of glass containers increased in the early warring States period, still dominated by small beads such as dragonfly eyes.
The number and variety of glass containers increased in the middle and late warring States period, with the addition of typical Chinese-style glass containers, such as beads and tubes, as well as typical Chinese-style glass containers, such as swords and seals. During this period, taxis and commoners can also be buried with glassware.
Glassware in the Han Dynasty inherited the tradition of glassware in the warring States period, the number and variety of glassware increased, and began to make glass containers. Roman glass was also found in the tombs of the early Eastern Han Dynasty. The glass wall of glassware in the Western Han Dynasty has a wide range of distribution, and its shape is generally larger than that of the warring States period. In the Eastern Han Dynasty, most of the glassware were found in the tombs of Guangdong and Guangxi, mainly monochromatic glass beads and a small amount of glass earrings.
The period of Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern dynasties was an important period for Chinese glass manufacturing and Western glass import to China. According to archaeological materials, China had mastered the glass blowing technology and could blow large thin-walled glass containers in the Northern Wei Dynasty at the latest. The composition of the glass has also changed greatly. The common lead-barium glass in the Han Dynasty no longer appeared and was replaced by high-lead glass and potassium glass without barium. Glass ware in this period is more common is glass beads, rings and other small ornaments.
Chinese glassware in the Tang Dynasty inherited the tradition of the Sui Dynasty, which can be divided into two types: high-lead glass and alkali glass. The number and variety of glassware increased in the Song Dynasty, but the quality did not exceed that of the Sui and Tang dynasties, mainly high-lead glass and potassium glass. Western glassware is still popular with the upper class, especially in the late Tang and Song and Liao dynasties, when a large number of exquisite Islamic glassware were imported into China. The glass sherry bottle is a masterpiece of glass in the Tang Dynasty. Gourd bottle is the most common glassware in Song Dynasty. Typical Islamic glass was also unearthed in the tombs of the Liao Dynasty. The ruins of glass workshops dating back to the Song Dynasty have not been found in China.
Glass production became more popular in China during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. During the Kangxi period of the Qing Dynasty, the Qing Palace set up a glass factory, which gathered excellent craftsmen from Yanshen Town of Shandong and Guangzhou, used western missionaries and technicians, introduced glass manufacturing technology from Western Europe, and created a large number of new glass varieties. It is recorded in the literature of glassware production in Yuan Dynasty and Ming Dynasty. A government-run workshop for making glass was set up in the Yuan Dynasty, and glass production was maintained at a high level. The whole process of glass making at that time was recorded in the Tiangong Kaiwu written by Song Yingxing in the Ming Dynasty. There are not many glassware unearthed in the tombs of the Ming Dynasty, only glass go pieces and glass strips. This is because glassware has become popular among the people and dignitaries are no longer cherished.
In the Qing Dynasty, in addition to the glass factory of the Qing Palace Yangxin Hall, there are also known folk glass producing areas in Boshan, Shandong, Guangzhou, Beijing and Suzhou. During Guang Xu’s years, Boshan exported more than 7,000 piculs of glass products to other places, including green curtains, jade, screens, chess pieces, beads, fish bottles, hairpin, gourd, inkstone drops, Buddha’s eyes, and so on. Some glass beads were exported to Southeast Asian countries, and some beads were resold to North America and were welcomed by Indians. Qing Palace Yangxin Hall Glass Factory was established in the 35 year of Emperor Kangxi (1696). At the end of the Qing Dynasty (1911), it made a large number of glassware for more than two hundred years. Western missionaries Wang Zhizhong and Ji Wen all participated in and directed the glass production of the inner court. The glassware at the time of Kangxi was simple and simple, and it has been able to produce crystal glass, sprinkled gold blue glass and colored glass. today, the Palace Museum has a piece of glass Shuicheng with “Kangxi Imperial system” engraved. The glassware in Qianlong was gorgeous in shape and exquisite in pattern, which was the heyday of glass production in Qing Dynasty. At that time, it was able to produce Venus glass, filament-wound glass and three or four kinds of color glass. Decorative techniques are mostly carved, painted, clay gold and enamel color, representative works are “Gu Yuexuan” snuff bottle, winding glass bottle and so on. After Jiaqing, the glass of the Qing Palace went downhill, the color of the objects was muddy, the shape was incorrect, the carvings were rough, and the articles were scribbled. Because the Qing palace glassware has a unique Chinese style and exquisite craftsmanship, it is deeply appreciated by people all over the world. Some large museums in Europe and North America have collections of Chinese court glassware in the Qing Dynasty, especially works from the Qianlong period.