Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating materials, generally including kaolin, inakiln to temperatures between 1.200 and 1.400 °C (2.200 and 2.600 °F). The toughness, strength and translucence of porcelain, relative to other types of pottery, arises mainly from vitrification and the formation of the mineral mullite within the body at these high temperatures.
Porcelain derives its present name from the old Italian porcellana (cowrieshell) because of its resemblance to the translucent surface of the shell. Porcelain can in formally be referred to as china or fine china in some English-speaking countries, as China was the birthplace of porcelain making.
The composition of porcelain is highly variable, but the claymineral kaolinite is often a raw material.
Other raw materials can include feld spar, ball clay, glass, boneash, steatite, quartz, petuntse and alabaster.
Porcelain originated in China. Porcelain manufactured during the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD) was exported to the Islamic world, where it was highly prized. Early porcelain of this type includes the tri-colour glazed porcelain, or sancaiwares.
By the time of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD), porcelainwares were being exported to Europe. Some of the most well-known Chinese porcelain art styles arrived in Europe during this era, such as the coveted blue-and-whitewares.