European forms such as mugs, ewers, tazze, and candlesticks were unknown in China, so models were sent to the Chinese potteries to be copied.
While silver forms probably served as the original source for many of the forms that were reproduced in porcelain, it is now thought that wooden models were provided to the Chinese potters.
The popularity of polychrome enameled decoration painted over the glaze seems to be a result of the growing interest in porcelain decorated with coats of arms.
An unusually early example of export porcelain is a ewer decorated with the royal arms of Portugal; the arms are painted upside down, however—a reflection of the unfamiliarity of the Chinese with the symbols and customs of their new trading partner (61.196).The blue-and-white dishes that comprised such a significant proportion of the export porcelain trade became known as dishes were decoration divided into panels on the wide border, and a central scene depicting a stylized landscape (1995.268.1).As the export trade increased, so did the demand from Europe for familiar, utilitarian forms.With the appearance of porcelain factories in Europe in the early eighteenth century, the demand for Chinese export porcelain began to diminish, and by the second half of the century the trade was in serious decline.
New geographical markets, however, revitalized the export porcelain industry.
Polychrome enamels allowed for detailed, accurate coats of arms, and the trade in armorial porcelain became the defining aspect of Chinese export porcelain in the eighteenth century.