Earthenware is glazed or unglazed nonvitreous pottery that has typically been fired below 1200 °C. Porcelain, bone china, and stoneware, all fired at excessive adequate temperatures to vitrify.
Earthenware comprises “most building bricks, almost all European pottery up to the seventeenth century, most of the wares of Egypt, Persia and the close to East; Greek, Roman and Mediterranean, and some of the Chinese; and the exceptional earthenware which forms the higher part of our tableware today” (“today” being 1962).
Pit fired earthenware dates back to as early as 29,000–25,000 BC, and for millennia, solely earthenware pottery was made, with stoneware progressively growing some 5,000 years ago, however then disappearing for a few thousand years. Outside East Asia, porcelain was once manufactured only from the 18th century AD, and then initially as an expensive luxury.
After it is fired, earthenware is opaque and non-vitreous, soft and capable of being scratched with a knife. The Combined Nomenclature of the European Communities describes it as being made of chosen clays occasionally combined with feldspars and varying quantities of different minerals, and white or light-coloured (i.e., barely greyish, cream, or ivory).
Earthenware is a form of pottery that has not been fired to the point of vitrification and is somewhat porous and coarser than porcelain and stoneware. The body can be fully covered or decorated with a slip (a blend of liquid clay applied before firing) or glazed. Earthenware is normally glazed for both practical and decorative reasons.