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Chinese blue and white transitional jar, Chongzhen (1628-1644), the body decorated with a continuous scene of floral sprays and grasses, with lappets to the neck.
By the mid-sixteenth century, Chongzhen was not able to defend the northern frontier against the Manchu. When the rebels reached the capital Beijing in 1644, he committed suicide, ending the Ming dynasty. The Manchu formed the succeeding Qing dynasty. The 'transitional' period, considered to have started with the death of the Wanli Emperor in 1620 and lasting until the Manchu takeover, was a period of great creativity within the ceramics industry. Without official imperial patronage, potters diversified and focused on other markets, including scholars and traders (both European and Japanese), and thus the tumultuous Transitional period before the formation of the Qing represents an innovative and dynamic chapter of Chinese ceramic production.