The beginning of faience in China: A review and new evidence

Publication date: May 2019

Source: Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 105

Author(s): Yi-Xian Lin, Thilo Rehren, Hui Wang, Xiao-Yan Ren, Jian Ma


Despite decades of research into faience artefacts in China, many questions remain about how, where and by whom this technology began. This study combines published and new results of chemical analysis, morphology and chronology of the earliest faience beads uncovered from Xinjiang, Qinghai, Gansu, Shaanxi and Shanxi to suggest that at the latest in the mid-second millennium BC faience was first imported from the northern Caucasus or the Steppe into Xinjiang. In the second half of the second millennium, the Kayue people in Qinghai began making high potash faience, before the Zhou people in Shaanxi and Shanxi learnt and distributed the technology more widely across central China, probably via contacts with their pastoralist neighbours.