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First there was pottery, easily broken and porous. We were told that the early Europeans knew nothing of porcelain, now going by the name of china. We still call fine dinnerware china. Jingdezhen used to be called “Chang Nan”, hear the similarity? So how did the country we are visiting get the name “China”? From the Europeans trading with the country specifically for their fine porcelain and silks. Completely getting messed up with the name Chang Nan, they gave the entire country name “China”. Now, that makes a lot of sense. We were quizzed, outside of China, which country has the biggest collection of Chinese porcelain? The answer appears at the bottom of this page.
As early as 1004 during the Song Dynasty, the royal court decreed the city made porcelain for imperial use have the wording “Made during the Jingde Reign”. Hmm, the first “Made in China” labeling. We are all familiar with the wonderful pieces of china or porcelain of the Ming Dynasty. Well, from the Yuan Dynasty to the Ming and Qing Dynasty, emperors sent their officials to Jingdezhen to supervise the making of royal porcelain. They set up the Porcelain Office and built the royal kiln, which produced many wonderful ceramic articles. Among them were those particularly famous for the four classic decorations: blue and white, family rose, rice-pattern and color glaze.
Jingdezhen is not on the river. We had a two hour bus ride to Jingdezhen. On this ride as well as many others we notice buildings partially constructed as seen in these first two photographs. Arnold told us that houses are built a little bit at a time in China as the people do not have enough money to build it all at one time. The owner will obtain enough money to build, say the foundation and slab, maybe that is all. Owner then goes to the big city or somewhere to make some more money. When sufficient money has been saved, owner will return and put up the walls and the roof. It is then back to work to save for windows, doors, exterior and interior finishing, and so on. I takes a long time to build a house in this manner.
Also, traffic accidents happen there just as everywhere else. The turned over truck seems to have lost its load of sand.
On entering Jingdezhen, we started seeing the fruits of their labors in porcelain. It was every where, hill sides and light posts in the downtown area.
Soon we were at the porcelain factory and we found ourselves walking among some very fine piece and some very large pieces of beautiful ceramics. Surrounding a small courtyard where these finished pieces were on display were potters and artist making rice bowls. It was said that 500 bowls were made each day. One potter would shape the bowl while another would press a partially dry bowl over a mould to insure proper size and do some fine trimming (third photograph showing a man working). The bowls would then be further dried in the sun and finally glazed. The girl with a deft stroke of the brush would put on the design glaze. The accuracy of her brush was amazing.
Finally, the pieces would be placed in a wood fired kiln. This first photo is in the preparation room of the kiln. We also walked into the kiln but there was only one light bulb and no contrasting features so poor for photographing. The next photograph is the outside of one of the kilns.
From the porcelain factory we went ceramic museum that was set in a garden with ponds and streams. There was also a very old building like the ones we used to see in movies that were set in China years ago. And yes, as visitors we went forward from here.
We had a late lunch, groups of about 12 people to a private room. Very nice setting and very good lunch. Oh, yes. It was Chinese food. This wooden boat was in the lobby. Back at our boat, I see we were in Jiujiang.
I asked a question in the first paragraph. “Which country has the biggest collection of Chinese porcelain?” The answer, so we were told, is Turkey, the old world gateway to Asia.