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China's 'porcelain capital' shines in livestreaming spotlight amid hot demand

China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-02 09:43
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A seller promotes porcelain items via livestreaming during an expo in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, in October.  MA NING/XINHUA

NANCHANG — Holding a smartphone, 31-year-old Wei Lingyan maneuvers her way past several hundred stalls selling porcelain items, showcasing the goods to fans via a livestreaming platform.

"Welcome, new friends! Feel free to let me know your preferences," said Wei, a native of Jingdezhen, the renowned "porcelain capital" located in East China's Jiangxi province.

Wei has embraced the role of a "walk-streamer", a novel undertaking that is gaining traction on Taoxichuan Ceramic Art Avenue in Jingdezhen. Since launching her social media account last year, she has attracted over 5,000 fans, achieving monthly sales ranging from 150,000 yuan ($20,950) to 200,000 yuan.

Duan Haonan, head of the entrepreneurship business unit at the Taoxichuan management committee, said the emergence of walk-streamers has opened new sales channels for ceramic stall owners.

In the first 10 months of 2023, livestreaming e-commerce sales exceeded 2.2 trillion yuan in China, surging 58.9 percent year-on-year, driving the growth of total online retail sales by 7.5 percentage points.

The influence of livestreaming is also evident in Jingdezhen, with over 10,000 livestream hosts engaged in the ceramics industry. Last year, they collectively generated approximately 7 billion yuan in sales.

Another such marketer, Momo, oversees six livestreaming accounts. She has amassed a fanbase surpassing 1 million. Her livestreaming rooms generate a staggering annual revenue of some 200 million yuan.

"In addition to ceramic sales, my livestreaming sessions also delve into promoting ceramics culture. I often invite inheritors of intangible cultural heritage to share the stories behind ceramics," she said.

Jingdezhen's history of ceramics dates back over 2,000 years. Its past role as an official and imperial kiln has elevated the art of porcelain making to unprecedented heights.

Nowadays, the internet connects Jingdezhen's traditional ceramic culture with international elements and fashion trends, creating new opportunities for the handmade porcelain industry.

At 1 am, Emrah Hakan Caliskan, a Turkish online influencer based in Jingdezhen, stepped into a live broadcast room at a local ceramics industrial park, introducing new products to consumers worldwide.

On the smartphone screen before him, comments from customers kept rolling in, including: "Engrave my name on the bottom of the cup "or "Paint my pet on the front".

Caliskan's wife, Cheng Linyao, is a municipal-level inheritor of porcelain drawings in Jingdezhen. "We integrate Sino-Turkish culture into our ceramic works," said Caliskan, showcasing a teacup. "Turkish people often use this geometric pattern decoration in architecture and clothing, and it has a unique charm when painted on blue-and-white porcelain."

During the 2023 China Jingdezhen International Ceramic Expo, his ceramic works gained favor from fans from many countries.

While Jingdezhen represents ancient kilns and millennia-old porcelain craftsmanship for many, it also represents a realm of vibrancy for Liu Nan, head of the Phonbay Training Institute.

As night fell, a group of young people displayed their singing, dancing and musical instrument skills through livestreaming from Taoxichuan Ceramic Art Avenue.

They hail from the Phonbay institute, which was established in December 2021. Each of their roadshows draws approximately 100,000 viewers, with some watching online and others attending on site.

"I hope both domestic and international visitors can appreciate not only the static beauty of our ceramic culture, but also its dynamic essence," Liu said.

"In this place, everyone pursues what they truly desire, and this is not limited to pottery. Each person can discover a lifestyle and approach to work that suits them," Wei said.


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