The storied city of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province is known as the Porcelain Capital of China. In fact, the city has a history of making porcelain so well that people in the West simply named it “fine china” after the country itself.
Porcelain from Jingdezhen’s historical heyday was reserved for China’s imperial family. The first royal pieces were crafted for Emperor Jingde during the Song Dynasty (960–1279 C.E.) and new designs were created and fired in the city’s highly-regarded kilns for each subsequent ruler. You may have seen the blue and white style porcelain that gained popularity in the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), or the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) famille rose style. Jingdezhen’s imperial porcelain is so well-renowned that a rare “chicken cup” – considered the pinnacle of Chinese porcelain craftsmanship – from the Ming Dynasty sold for upwards of 200 million RMB (USD$30.1 million).
Luckily today, you don’t have to be an emperor to visit Jingdezhen. Here are just a few of the intriguing activities that await you in the region:
For those who love to hike, Gaoling Mountain is an area you’ll want to explore. The kaolin clay used in the city’s famous pottery is sourced here and there are several monuments placed along the trails to celebrate the traditions of the mountain. At the foot of Gaoling Mountain, a small town formed around a shipping port dealing exclusively in the export of clay. Your AsiaTravel guide will introduce you to the people who live there and help you get to grips with local cultures and customs.
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Tao Xi Chuan Art District
Though Jingdezhen ceramics were historically more popular and renowned than they are today, an art community that focuses on the crafting of porcelain and pottery still exists in the Tao Xi Chuan Art District. Rising from the ashes of burnt-out factories, you’ll find one of the hippest, ceramic-focused art districts in China. Here, enthusiasts from all over the Middle Kingdom and the world, sell their newest creations. It’s classical porcelain with a contemporary twist.
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Jingdezhen – Dragon Pearl Pavilion
The Dragon Pearl Pavilion, located on top of Mount Pearl, has been a symbol of Jingdezhen for centuries. In the Ming Dynasty it was used as a factory for producing fine porcelain goods and nowadays, there is a small exhibition detailing the city’s history. You may even stumble across an excavation site nearby as archeologists continue to search for, and discover, lost relics of imperial porcelain.
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Jingdezhen Ancient Kiln
As the name would imply, a number of the traditional kilns used for Jingdezhen’s world-celebrated ceramic work have been preserved through the ages. The Ancient Kiln is one of the best in town and where the emperor’s porcelain itself was fired. Even now, you can find craftsmen hard at work, replicating the techniques passed down to them through the generations. Although the majority of the kilns are no longer in action, you can walk around the structures and imagine what it was like to fire thousands of porcelain objects in one single batch.
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A Porcelain Masterclass
If you’d like to learn more about the art of porcelain then add the Ceramic Folklore Museum to your AsiaTravel Jingdezhen itinerary. In the museum, you’ll be guided through the delicate procedure of making porcelain fit for China’s emperors. If seeing these masters in action inspires you, AsiaTravel can arrange a private pottery class. You’ll learn how to throw your own pot using kaolin clay and then have a chance to paint it once it’s been fired.
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Jingdezhen is the ideal place to celebrate the history and expertise surrounding clay, pottery, and their related craftsmanship. Make sure to leave some room in your luggage if you decide to plan a trip with us to the porcelain capital! Let’s plan your Jingdezhen: The Art of Porcelain journey together.