Business / Economy

China's ceramics capital seeks to build global brands

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-10-23 09:33

NANCHANG - During his first visit to Shanxi, a 1,000-year-old town in Jiangxi province known for porcelain-making, Eric Kaplan from the United Kingdom received a blue and white plate bearing his family's insignia.

He received the gift at the ongoing 2015 China Jingdezhen International Ceramic Fair. Bearing the serial number 001, it is one of five newly fired porcelain plates that imitate pieces originally manufactured by Jingdezhen craftsmen some 600 years ago for European aristocrats.

Having grown up with a lot of fine china in his home, the descendant of a noble family in Leicestershire said it felt amazing to obtain something similar to a piece collected by his ancestors.

"We appreciate this art very much, and I am extremely honored to be here and very thankful," said Kaplan.

Master pottery maker Huang Yunpeng, who presented the plate to Kaplan as a gift, has collected more than 300 antique ceramics tailor-made by local craftsmen for special clients in Europe, including aristocrats, high-ranking officials, wealthy merchants and social organizations.

His son, Huang Bin, president of the Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Company, said he hopes these antique porcelain pieces can attract people to revisit Jingdezhen's ties to the British nobility and boost the town's handmade porcelain industry.

A royal heritage

Hu Yinjiao, a resident of Jingdezhen, takes pride in the town's history as a royal porcelain supplier, not just for Chinese emperors but also European royals and nobility.

In the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Jingdezhen was not only the home of imperial kilns dedicated to Chinese emperors, but also saw strong exports in porcelain. It is estimated that some 100 million pieces of china were sold to Europe from the 16th to the 18th century.

"In overseas museums, quite a number of exquisite porcelain antiques for European royals and aristocrats were made in Jingdezhen. To understand how famous the city is, just look at the mark below each antique. Oftentimes, I've found it mentioned just the city -- adding the country was seemingly unnecessary," said Hu.

"When browsing armorial porcelain antiques in overseas museums, I do feel the town's strong connection with the royalty there," said Hu.

In Exhibition Hall A at the ceramics fair in Jingdezhen, Chinese swarmed the stands of royal suppliers to appreciate the designs.

Moorcroft, an 118-year-old brand based in Stoke-on-Trent of Staffordshire in England and an appointed "potter to H.M. The Queen" until 1978, is one of the most popular ceramics makers at the expo.

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