The Sancai technique dates back to the Tang Dynasty. However, the colors of the glazes used to decorate the wares of the Tang Dynasty generally were not limited to three in number. In the West, Tang sancai wares were sometimes referred to as ''egg-and-spinach'' by dealers, for their use of green, yellow, and white .
Sancai wares were northern wares made using white and buff-firing secondary kaolins and fire clays . At kiln sites located at , Neiqui county in Hebei and Gongxian in Henan , the clays used for burial wares were similar to those used by Tang potters. The burial wares were fired at a lower temperature than contemporaneous whitewares. Burial wares, such as the well-known representations of camels and horses, were cast in sections, in moulds with the parts luted together using clay slip. In some cases, a degree of individuality was imparted to the assembled figurines by hand-carving.
Sancai travelled along the Silk Road, to be later extensively used in , , and then pottery from the 13th to the middle of the 15th century. Sancai also became a popular style in Japanese and other East Asian ceramic arts.