China and china

My hometown,Jingdezhen is the capital of china. Of course, not China which denotes a country in Asia, but china, the porcelain form of “earthenware of a five semitransparent texture originally manufactured in China and first brought to European in the sixteenth century by the Portuguese, who named it porcelain.” The porcelain form of china has become so popularly known to have “physically originated in China” that its name becomes associated with its geographical birthplace.

China serving as decoration in homes have been prevalent as early as this country can remember. Auctions throughout the world have gained interest from both Chinese and non-Chinese people’s interests. Though china have many different decorations and forms, the most famous is the 青花瓷 (qing hua ci) which uses only white and blue colors to exhibit the most elaborate designs. Originated in the Yuan Dynasty, qing hua ci reached its peak during the Ming and Qing dynasties and since have been considered as the nation’s greatest treasure. Even famous pop artist, Jay Chou has sang about the beauty and illusive quality that qing hua ci represents for China.

I can proudly say that Jingdezhen is not only the capital of china, but also the creator of qing hua ci. In fact, when one says “qing hua ci,” one precedes the art with “Jingdezhen.” In my hometown, I have seen streets that sell china, featuring primarily the white and blue form. Some stores sell little trinkets that make cheap but valued gifts for friends; others sell expensive art in porcelain shape that I could only admire and not buy.

Jingdezhen also has three large kilns and china artists’ quarters, each of which have been recognized at one point in history by a famous emperor. Coincidentally, I have a relative who works in this quarter and who was a recognized artist and won a competition that brought him to an artists’ conference in New York. He was my father’s childhood playmate so when he heard that my father and I came back for a visit, he personally took us to his work place so that I could see his art. Interestingly, he was not only producing traditional art forms, but also exploring the intersection of modern art, Western art and Chinese traditional art in his creations. My father thought the modern art looked silly and cheap, to which his playmate laughed and told him those were his most expensive works.

“I could never understand modern art,” my dad shook his head.

I, for one, could understand modern art, but the beauty of Chinese ancient works continuously draws me with its intricate designs, powerful displays and artist representation of historical stories that I almost always prefer them over cracked pots and crude design of the statement-filled modern art.


Rujivacharakul, Vimalin. “China and china: An Introduction to Materiality And A History of Collecting.”