Chinamania: Porcelain Production at Jingdezhen
Jingdezhen has been a center of China’s global ceramics industry since the fourteenth century. Trade expanded during the sixteenth century when manufacturers in Jingdezhen and trading companies in the West capitalized on the first documented cases of Chinamania among the European aristocracy.
Even after Europeans discovered the secret to making porcelain and began to produce their own Chinese-inspired wares, Jingdezhen retained its global preeminence. Its primacy as a ceramics center did not begin to wane until the latter half of the nineteenth century, when the Qing government weakened and trade agreements with Britain and Japan were aggressively implemented.
After World War II, the Communist Party in China restored Jingdezhen’s ceramics industry by opening state-run factories. Today, government sponsorship has all but disappeared, but the city continues to mass produce utilitarian and decorative porcelain for the world. A growing network of vocational and liberal arts educational institutions now trains Chinese students and offers fellowships and residencies to artists from abroad.