Ancient Porcelain Arts Thrive Again in a Chinese River Town


JINGDEZHEN, China — For centuries, the most coveted china from China came out of Jingdezhen’s workshops — fashioned from clay made smooth by trained hands, fired in kilns and then transported across the world.

The works graced the courts of the Persians, Mongols and French. Some craved blue-and-white vases. Others admired jade-green celadon bowls. This was China’s greatest export, the rival of silk.

The fall of the Qing dynasty and war and revolutions in the 20th century broke the artisan culture, unless one counts Communist statues as an important stage in China’s hallowed porcelain tradition.

Now that tradition is being revived at the roots. Young people are moving to study in Jingdezhen, a river town in the southern Chinese province of Jiangxi. Studios and workshops have popped up around town and in the surrounding valleys. Some of the new artisans hope to profit from their skills, since the country’s middle-class boom of recent decades has meant a greater demand for porcelain.

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