Porcelain City of World, Dehua of China
“When the Chinese tea is tasted, the silk rotted, the dust wiped away, only the Chinese porcelain still shines, with grand and flowery light.” The history of communication between ancient West and East is carved on Chinese porcelain. “BLANC DE CHINE”, means the “White of China”, filled with Oriental artistic scene, is the reputation of the white porcelain produced by Dehua Fujian among European Countries in the 17th Century. In the history of World Porcelain, “White of China” has long been a byword of Dehua White Porcelain, which manifests its exquisite workmanship.
Thousand Years of Passing of the Flame of Porcelain Kiln
As one of the origins of Chinese Porcelain Culture, Dehua Kiln holds an important historical role in the development of Chinese Porcelain. The history of Dehua Kiln could be traced back to Neolithic times, which was 4000 years ago, derived from Shang and Zhou Dynasty, merged from Tang and Song Dynasty, flourished on Ming and Qing Dynasty.
The world earliest Law of Porcelain was published at Dehua County in Tang Dynasty. Meanwhile, Meiling, the world earliest planning map of porcelain factory, was designed. Entering Song and Yuan Dynasty, along with the rising of Citong Port, Dehua Porcelain became well sold abroad as one of the most important goods on Maritime Silk Road. The production of Dehua porcelain reached its first peak in Ming Dynasty. The “White of China” from Dehua Kiln became world famous for its pure, sparking, ivory-white, clothed-cream glaze. It represented the highest production level of white porcelain at that time and fully deserved the reputation of “Oriental Art Treasure” and “Superior-Quality of Chinese Porcelain”. Ming Dynasty is also a prosperous period of porcelain sculpture art of Dehua kiln. A group of great artists including He Chaozong, Zhang Shoushan, Lin Chaojing and Chen Wei promoted the porcelain sculpture art to a level without parallel in history. Their pieces of work are viewed as the “Unparalleled Precious Treasure of the World” and the “Shared Treasure of the World”.
In Qing Dynasty, the Dehua Porcelain entered its period of great prosperity. Blue-and -white Porcelain replaced the main-stream status of White-Glaze Porcelain in Dehua Kilns. The kilns scattered every place among the county. A box of white porcelain equals a box of silver. The 350 thousand pieces of Dehua blue-and-white porcelain found in the Taixing wrecks, further proved the time of great prosperity of the production and foreign trade of Dehua Porcelain. During the time of the Republic of China, the Dehua Porcelain hit its lowest point in history, but still a few of folk artists kept resisting on this career, such as Su Xuejin and Xu Youyi. They stock to the tradition but forged ahead in creation. Their works including “Porcelain-Carving Plum Blossom”, “Mulan” and “Guan Gong” won Golden prizes on International Exhibitions held in Panama, England and Japan.
After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the Dehua Porcelain had a new birth and enjoyed a fast and strong development. As an important origin of Chinese Porcelain Culture, experiencing the change of dynasties, thousand years of vicissitudes, the song of “White of China” is still sung among the porcelain kilns of Dehua. The porcelain culture is still passed on generation after generation. It is the hard-working spirit and wisdom of Dehua people that forges a distinctive porcelain culture with dust and fire, and the thousand-year Soul of Porcelain of Dehua County.
“White of China” Starting Out Again and Continuing Creating New Brilliance
Recent years, Dehua County insists on a business philosophy of “high-quality of traditional porcelain carving, daily-use of porcelain for artistic, art-ware of porcelain for daily-use”, regards porcelain industry as a pillar industry and tilts resource to promote and cultivate its development which leads to a new era when a hundred of flowers in bloom together while new pieces of porcelain keep springing up. The former prime-minister Li Peng put “Marvelous Porcelain of Dehua, Treasure of the Porcelain World” in 1993.
Smart Dehua people carry on the traditional culture, inherit the crafts. Numerous famous porcelain masters including Ke Hongrong, Qiu Shuangjiong, Chen Guiyu and Su Yufeng emerge from generation to generation. The porcelain culture has deeply implanted into the genes of each member of the Capital of Porcelain. The porcelain artistry of Dehua has already been listed into the List of National Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection. The modern masters of porcelain-carving dexterously use the eight skills including kneading, molding, carving, cutting, shaving, peeling, jointing and nestling, which are created and passed by “Master He”, to make all sorts of works which are so skillfully imitated as to be indistinguishable from the original. Vast of their works are collected by the Palace Museum, China National Museum, and the Great Hall of the People, meanwhile, many porcelain-carving arts become national gifts.
At present, the Duhua country has a population of only 330 thousand, but there are over 2600 porcelain enterprises, over 200 porcelain institutes and over 100 thousand porcelain industrial employees in Dehua County. 80% of the porcelain products are traded to over 190 countries and regions. The total output value of porcelain industry in 2017 reached 22.8 billion yuan. An industrial professional cluster of tradition porcelain-carving, exported porcelain arts and porcelain for daily-use has already been cultivated and constructed. Dehua has become the largest production and export base for porcelain arts in China. The World Crafts Council speaks highly of Dehua as the origin of Chinese porcelain, and awarded Dehua the one and only title “The Capital of Porcelain for the World”.
A Five-year Plan for porcelain industry has been submitted by Dehua to support enterprises to participate into the world trend of development for porcelain industry. The total industrial output value will reach 50 billion yuan in 2022.
With thousand-years of kiln flame and ten-thousand miles of porcelain history, a new mission from 20 billion to 50 billion is not only a call to the new beginning for “White of China” along with the East wind of “the Belt and Road”, but also the soaring aspiration and ambition for porcelain enterprises of Dehua to measure up to advanced world levels.