Porcelain wares are produced in many towns throughout China, but none so famous as Jingdezhen. Known as the “city of porcelain”, this prefecture-level city in Jiangxi Province in southeast China has been producing porcelain for some 1700 years. Jingdezhen became a hotspot of producing Chinese porcelain primarily because it is situated in a mountainous region rich in kaolin mineral clay, the material used to make porcelain.
Jingdezhen’s porcelain history was immortalized in a poem by the Chinese scholar Guo Muruo, who is said to have written:
“China is well known in the world for its porcelain/ and Jingdezhen is the most well-known centre/ with the highest quality porcelain in China.”
Early emperors, such as Emperor Zhenzong of the Jingde Period (1004-1007), often commissioned porcelain items to be made by Jingdezhen potters, and over the years, they became highly prized and very valuable. One such piece, a blue and white porcelain jar, was purportedly sold for the equivalent of 230,000,000 yuan in the UK in 2005 – one of the highest prices ever paid for a porcelain piece. During the Cultural Revolution, many Jingdezhen potters created porcelain statues and badges that depicted Mao Ze Dong.
Jingdezhen is, today, a modern center of porcelain making, and one of China’s most famous porcelain towns. Much of the city’s economy relies on the making and export of porcelain, and visiting the town, one finds a plethora of both factories and individual potters creating porcelain items everyday. Visiting a Jingdezhen porcelain workshop, it is possible to take home a unique and often handmade piece, some extremely valuable, while others quite affordable.
Jingdezhen is also home to the Chinese Ceramic History Museum, which traces the history of ceramic and porcelain making in China. Here, visitors can see traditional and ancient ceramic making techniques at work, including historic kilns, as well as more modern techniques and demonstrations of Jingdezhen potters at work.