A Brief History of Zwiebelmuster
Onion Pattern Porcelain
In the fifteenth century a group of miners founded a small community, in what is now the Czech Republic, called Dubi-- so called because of the deep oak forests surrounding it. In 1800 Dubi had 64 houses, 9 sawmills and 3 mills.
One of the mills, Unter Buschmuhle, attracted the entrepreneur and industrialist Anton Tschinkel, who later bought it. In 1864 he introduced the production of majolica (earthenware) there. In 1874 he introduced china. Then from 1885 the factory was owned by the German firm Teichert.
The china, which is called "onion china," is porcelain with a blue inglazed decoration. The mark has been in continuous demand throughout the centuries even though its design has changed very little.
The origin of blue onion porcelain is closely connected with the beginnings of china production on the European continent. During the period from 1720 to 1739 Meissen china manufacturing gradually succeeded in discovering the the secrets of Chinese inglazed decoration painted with cobalt.
At that time there had originated a type of china which by its shape and decoration most closely reflected the European feeling for style of that time. The independent discovery of cobalt blue inglazing is attributed to Johann David Kretschmar of the Meissen porcelain manufacturing works.
An onion is a pomegranate.
The term "onion design" is erroneous. The design has nothing to do with the onion motif (and neither is that vegetable necessary for production!). Only one of the decorative elements on the plate edges, the pomegranate, remotely resembles the outline of an onion.
Actually, the whole design is an ingeniously conceived grouping of several floral motifs, with Japanese peaches and the pomegranates, and in the center of the product are found stylized peonies and asters --the stems of which wind in flowing curves around a bamboo stalk.
| ||The Blue Onion motif (saucer). || |
Judging from the number of various plant types mentioned, the ornament might arise from an east Asian model-- probably Chinese-- but it also demonstrates that the manner of strictly abstract stylization belongs to the sphere of European comprehension. And it is undoubtedly connected with the rhythm and rules of rococo ornamentation: for instance, the asymmetrical motif is composed according to type in various areas, and yet at first glance gives the impression of symmetry.
The longevity of the Onion.
Just what has caused the permanency of the onion design-- admired by generations and undaunted by the numerous revolutions and wars through which European china passed? The onion design is distinctly different, primarily by its quaint simplicity and restraint in shape and ornament. In its expression it is unusually intimate, it evokes family good cheer, and it abounds in those qualities which also have their appeal in our present times.
The History of Manufacture.
Let us change subjects from the history of china to the history of the plant. In 1895 a flourishing factory was sold to a new owner, an entrepreneur in the ceramic industry, Bernard Bloch, who, aside from china, introduced the manufacture of siderite products, tile stoves and tiles in general.
In 1925 ing. Schindler began to work in the factory. In 1927 Hugo Freund entered the firm with his capital. During the Second World War the factory was confiscated and subsequently sold to Dr. Horst Widera from Thuringia. The Czech production manager, Josef Simek, was discharged along with others.
After the war the plant returned to Czech hands and the production of china was resumed under the management of Josef Simek.
In 1955 a new stage of onion china production began. The plant started cooperating with the Viennese firm Thun-Hohenstein, which deserves credit for the assortment boom that brought the factory to its present position.
The activities of the export company Czechoslovak Ceramics must be appreciated as well as the work of the postwar generation of Dubi factory employees.
The Benchmarks of Blue Onion Porcelain.
With the takeover of onion motif china manufacture that took place after Dubi Manufacture was purchased by the German Teichert company in 1885 a modified mark of this firm was used until 1934. (See mark no. 1.)
Following the purchase of the factory by Bernard Bloch he used two marks he brought with him from his Uncin factory. (See 2 and 3.)
The basis of the currently used mark was created at the turn of the century and used until 1939. (See 4 and 6.)
At the same time, other marks incorporating Bloch's name were used. (See 5 and 7.)
During the period when the factory was under H. Widera's administration a mark was used which did not respect the direct lineage of the first benchmark. After 1945 the mark dating from the beginning of the century was modified by substituting the letter "D" for "E" and supplemented by the name of the glaze. (See 9, 10 and 11.)
The mark variant used from 1993 was created as a result of the partition of Czecholsovakia into two separate states. (See 12.)
From the year of 1997 the trademark of 1993 was supplemented by the name of the country of origin. To improve the trademark legibility this mark is now applied in a green-blue color.
In 1997 the joint stock company Cesky Porcelan, a.s. became the majority shareholder of Porcelanova manufaktura Royal Dux Bohemia, a.s. at Duchcov. This company is engaged in the manufacture of figurative and decorative china.
Genuine Old World artisanship-- manufacturing is still done by hand.
The Uniqueness of Blue Onion Porcelain-- a China for the Generations.
Zwiebelmuster means 'onion pattern' in German, and pronounced 'SVEE-bel-muster'. In Czech it's 'pravy cibulák", pronounced 'PRAH-vee see-bul-ACK') Zwiebelmuster china is a high grade material sculptured by human skill-- and women's tenderness. For centuries it has been given its strength by quartz, its whiteness by kaolin, transparence by feldspar, and its sturdiness by the heat of 1400 degrees Centigrade. The effort and aim of all the workers of the present joint-stock company Czech Porcelain is that their products, by their character, beauty and utility, become indispensable for people's living.
Read more fascinating facts about the versatility, use and care of Zwiebelmuster porcelain in our FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).
Who is European Blue?
We are manufacturer's representatives of the traditional Blue Onion porcelain with offices in North America, Central and South America.
We welcome inquiries from dealers, distributors and representatives who are interested in partnering with European Blue. You may e-mail us from our convenient online form.
Retail customers who would like more information plus register for timely specials and sales may contact us using the customer service e-mail form.
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