Class 03 of 16 Sept 2015
Reeves Center lecture by Dr. Ron Fuchs, Curator
• T-shirt “Made in China” but
= designed by Land’s End, made with cotton from the US, spun in one place, woven in a second, made into a shirt in a 3rd.
› made in Japan but silk is Chinese, wool is English, red cochineal dye is American. 19th century
» but I would argue 1700 is likely, 1800 is highly unlikely
• China Trade: generic for “over there” as poor grasp of geography.
= spices (modern Indonesia), tea (China), silk, cotton, and far down the list porcelain
› history written by / about survivors: don’t have old examples of most on this list
= porcelain = clay compounds embedded in a glass matrix due to high firing temperature. translucent, strong.
» cf. earthenware fired at lower temperatures, often reddish before glazing due to residual iron in the clay.
› China had a monopoly on this technology for 1,000 years.
= Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province has been center of global porcelain production for over 1,000 years.
› Kaolin (Mt Gaoling) large source of ancient clay (= white, iron leached out)
› rivers for transport
› forests for fuel
› specialists numerous
› Imperial kilns effectively government-financed R&D
› management skills:
» mass production with division of labor (perhaps 70 people for a seemingly simple piece)
» able to turn out a volume of essentially identical plates.
» known due to [unsuccessful] industrial espionage. successful British espionage was how tea got to India – only for the locals to point out to early plantation owners that the plant was growing wild all around them.
– affordable luxury, and they just kept getting better
= example of vase for domestic market: scene of emperor offering throne to someone presumed his better
= “moth-eaten” example of deliberate crudeness for tea ceremony market in Japan
= kraak: type of export porcelain under Ming 1575-1644. first type exported on a global basis
› terminal date known as Ming Dynasty collapsed in 1644, production and trade ceased for some years.
– blue-white aesthetic specific to export markets, large round shape likewise specific to middle eastern market (Persia / Ottoman Empire): cobalt sent from central asia to enable. by Ming Dynasty accepted as aesthetic in China.
– example a melange: motifs mixed in way not sensible if know Chinese context: cricket in a garden just a design to consumers in the final market
• impact on Europe
= huge impact on pottery industry (industries!) in Europe. copied glaze but still heavier [to compensate for low strenth], less dense.
= porcelain almost worth its weight in silver. and it was indeed paid for in silver.
» China eventually lost its monopoly by mid-19th century. could no longer sell into high end of market given long supply chain.
• impact on US
= all early American millionaires made their fortunes in the China Trade.
• impact on China
= helped monetize South China where Mexican Dollar was the closest thing to a standard money unit
= opium trade when silver more expensive, Opium War weakened Qing Dynasty
• Society of Cincinnatus plate
= George Washington paid $150 for the service
– part of the first shipment to make it to the US on the first “China” trader to sail under an American flag
= everyone who dined with Washington would have known the reference
• subsidiary discussion on taxation