Chinese Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties

Marks that contain the name of a Chinese dynasty or the reign names of Chinese emperors (a reign mark) may hint to the period of production, but are really quite unreliable due to the frequent use of non-period marks, that is marks of an earlier reign or period in which an item was made.

It is known that some marks of the early Ming dynasty can be found on porcelain made later in the Ming dynasty. Even porcelain of the early Qing dynasty frequently shows reign marks bearing the name of Ming emperors. In the late Qing dynasty and republican era the reign marks of earlier Qing periods often were added with the intention to increase the perceived value of the porcelain.

An overall judgment of the porcelain piece is always necessary to verify if its real age and period mark fit together.

In the table below the reign name is listed and the duration is shown in western years. In reality, with imperial year notation the year count started again with year 'one', each time a new emperor was enthroned.

Ming Dynasty


Qing Dynasty
Reign name
Reign name
Hongxi 1425 ~1425
Shunzhi 1644 ~1661
Xuande 1426 ~1435
Kangxi 1662 ~1722
Zhengtong 1436 ~1449
Yongzheng 1723 ~1735
Jingtai 1450 ~1457
Qianlong 1736 ~1795
Tianshun 1457 ~1464
Jiaqing 1796 ~1820
Chenghua 1465 ~1487
Daoguang 1821 ~1850
Hongzhi 1488 ~1505
Xianfeng 1851 ~1861
Zhengde 1506 ~1521
Tongzhi 1862 ~1874
Jiajing 1522 ~1566
Guangxu 1875 ~1908
Longjing 1567 ~1572
Xuantong 1909 ~1911
Wanli 1573 ~1620



Taichang 1620 ~1620



Tianqi 1621 ~1627



Chongzhen 1628 ~1644



No guarantee is given for accuracy of content.


For comparing the Chinese characters used in the marks of ceramics, the emperor's reign names for the Ming and Qing dynasties are given in Chinese on the following page: Chinese emperors' reign names (in Chinese)

Please note that the imperial year notation using the reign name of the specific Chinese emperors and the year in which something happened during that reign was the most common way of recording history, events, etc. in ancient China.
This was not limited to ceramics and their marks.





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