Sep 15, 2017 05:20 PM

Jingdezhen: Where Emperors Got Their Porcelain

Immense detail goes into the hand-painted porcelain. Photo:
Immense detail goes into the hand-painted porcelain. Photo:

(Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province) — The clink of fine porcelain rings like a resonant bell to the ear; the colored paint shines as bright as a mirror, and the delicate ceramic clay is as thin as paper. This is what you’re told while you’re holding Jingdezhen porcelain in your hands for the first time.

Everything about the porcelain shops in this ancient city ooze refinement and elegance. A single traditional “chicken cup” — a basic cup with chickens painted around the circumference — from the Ming Dynasty can sell for more than 200 million yuan ($30.52 million). As you walk through the ancient kilns of Jingdezhen, fragments of chipped porcelain glitter in the dirt in various patterns and colors associated with different dynasties: the blue and white intricacies of the Song Dynasty and the famille rose hues of the Qing.

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