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Jingdezhen Porcelain

An Introduction to Jingdezhen Porcelain

Porcelain, they say, is China's 'gift' to the world. Hailed as one of the must-haves in many households, porcelain has found its way into many countries across the globe. Porcelain made in Jingdezhen is the most famous one both at home and abroad.

Jingdezhen formerly spelt Ching Teh Chen and known as the "Ceramics Metropolis" of China, is a synonym for Chinese porcelain. Variably called Xinping or Changnanzhen in history, it is situated in the northeastern part of Jiangxi Province in a small basin. There is rich in fine kaolin, hemmed in by mountains which keep it supplied with firewood from their conifers.

Ever since the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) people in Jingdezhen began to produce ceramics as early as in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). In the Jingde reign (1004-1007) of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Emperor Zhaoheng decreed to produce the porcelain used by the imperial court. From then on, people began to call this place as Jingdezhen. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Jingdezhen and other three towns, Zhuxianzhen in Henan Province, Hankouzhen in Hubei Province and Fushanzhen in Guangdong Province, were listed as the Top Four Towns of China.

"The best porcelain of the world is in China, and China's best is in Jingdezhen", the Chinese writer Guo Moruo once said. The ceramic industry experienced a long-time development at Jingdezhen. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the technique started to mature. Jingdezhen became a major porcelain producer in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The kiln in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) boasted the highest porcelain-making techniques. Thereafter, the Liangfu porcelain office was set up. Since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), it has been the center of the ceramic industry. In the Ming and Qing dynasties when skills became perfected and the general quality being more refined; governmental kilns were set up to cater exclusively to the need of the royal families.

During the long-time development, the artists and craftsmen in Jingdezhen brought their full talent into play and created numerous masterpieces. Jingdezhen porcelain has formed four special features, which are "white like jade, bright as a mirror, thin as paper, sound like a chime." With its elegant form and unique technique, the art of Jindezhen porcelain is a bright jade in the Chinese civilization.

Most Jingdezhen porcelain is valued by collectors of antique porcelain throughout the world. The porcelain found in this province is famed as the White porcelain and many superlatives have been used to describe it. It is known be as white as jade, as bright as glass, as thin as paper and as sonorous as a chime stone. The blue and white porcelain is a trademark of this region and has been around since the Yuan Dynasty. Also renowned is the celadon rice-pattern drawings found on the porcelains from this province. Experts believe that the blue and white Yuan Dynasty porcelain has a dominant position in the history of Chinese ceramics. It represents the pinnacle of the development of Chinese blue and white porcelain.

Today Jingdezhen, the ancient ceramics metropolis, has been regenerated with new vigor since the founding of the people republic of China. It now boasts a ceramic research institute and a ceramic museum in addition to five kaolin quarries, 15 porcelain factories, two porcelain machinery plants, one porcelain chemical plant, two refractory materials factories and dozens of porcelain processing works.

The leading centre of the porcelain industry, Jingdezhen has been put under state protection also as an important historical city. With unique porcelain culture, Jingdezhen is attributed to the abundant porcelain relics, the valuable porcelain art, the excellent porcelain techniques and the intelligent porcelain artists. This culture was, is and will be a treasure for Jingdezhen's tourist industry.

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