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The art or process of making useful and ornamental articles from clay by shaping and then hardening them by firing at high temperatures. Ceramics are generally known as pottery, but the term also refers to the manufacture of any product from a nonmetallic mineral by firing at high temperatures. The exceptional porcelain and stonewares of China are very well known, from as early as the Yang-Shao Neolithic culture, c 4500 BC.