Less than five centimetres in diameter, yet quite unique: a lidded jar made of imperial Chinese glass. This world heritage in miniature, which is frequently used in books and articles as an example of the earliest imperial Chinese glass, is one of the gems of Kunstmuseum Den Haag’s glass collection. It will be on display alongside other items of Chinese glass in a small exhibition entitled Chinese Glass – Imperial Treasure, which opens on 10 February.
Chinese glass is rare all over the world, as China does not have a culture of glass like in Europe, where glass has been used to make drinking vessels since the Roman period. Modern methods of glass production were introduced to China by French Jesuits in the late seventeenth century, as part of an exchange of techniques and materials. But unlike in Europe at that time, the Chinese did not attempt to produce colourless, transparent glass. They used it mainly to imitate other more valuable materials, like agate, quartz, garnet, jade, marble and porcelain.
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