The Development of the Jingdezhen Kilns in the Yuan Dynasty

Yeung, Chun Tong 楊春棠
Supervisor: Prof. H.Y. Shih

This thesis is an attempt at examining the ceramic industry in the region of Jingdezhen in Jiangxj Province during the Yuan Dynasty (A.D. 1271-1358). The study consists of four major parts:
(1) the development of Jingdezhen kilns in relation to the economic growth and cultural background of Jiangxi Province.
(2) the setting up of the Fouliang Porcelain Bureau in Jingdezhen and the use of kaolin with china stone by Jingdezhen potters,
(3) the kinds of wares produced by Jingdezhen kilns and their characteristics in the Yuan Dynasty, and
(4) the sale of Jingdezhen wares in domestic and overseas markets.

After the fall of the Northern Song Dynasty, many Han people moved from North China to the southern provinces. The increase of population in South China led to the growth of a number of handicraft industries. It was during this period that Jingdezhen improved and increased its ceramic production to meet the demands of the increased population.

With the setting up of the Fouliang Porcelain Bureau in 1278, Jingdezhen began to produce high-quality wares for the imperial palace and government offices. Apart from official orders, large quantities of Jingdezhen wares were manufactured for commercial disposal. They were sold throughout the Yuan territories and to many Asian and East African countries.

As regards the kinds of ceramics produced in Jingdezhen, the study is based on
(1) many ceramic finds excavated in China, which came from the Jingdezhen kilns of the Yuan Dynasty,
(2) the Yuan ceramic collection in the Topkapi Sarayi Museum of Istanbul and the Ardebil Shrine Collection in the Iran Bastan Museum of Tehran,
(3) the qingbai wares recovered front the shipwreck off Sinan coast in South Korea, and
(4) the exhibits in the Exhibition of ‘Jingdezhen Warethe Yuan Evolution’ held in the Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong in 1984.

In comparison with Song wares, the Yuan wares of Jingdezhen show a marked increase in the variety of forms, decorative motifs and glaze colours. Despite the short life of the Yuan Dynasty, the Jingdezhen potters of this period certainly achieved important advances which occupy a significant position in the history of Chinese ceramic art.