The Ceramic Art is the oldest and most universally practiced of all the arts. It was admired before any knowledge or experience of Sculpture or Painting existed. It has affected the taste of every people with or without a claim to culture. From the prehistoric age to the present time it has been continuous ; in the history of all nations it has been where art began. When the Egyptian or Indian smeared his earthenware with poor color and drew a zigzag line with a stick around his clay vessel, he revealed the incipient symptoms in the direction of art in decoration as well as in form.
The period which elapsed between the time of the formation of these first simple vessels from dried clay, and of the highly fused and refractory porcelain, has been thou-sands of years, and the steps of progress slow and uncertain ; nor can any date be fixed for the origin of baked clay pottery. Its production was primeval with the earliest dates of historical records, the oldest and most valuable of which are burial places and tombs; of these many have remained unopened and undiscovered for decades of centuries. Rudely shaped vessels of baked clay are found in the lake dwellings of Switzerland and in the sepulchres of the primitive inhabitants of Northern Europe. Dates can only be affixed to these by approximation, and doubtless many belong to the Stone Age. The earliest dates which can be affixed with any degree of precision are to vessels of burnt clay discovered in Egyptian tombs built 2500 years B. C.