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Extra resources for The pilgrim art : cultures of porcelain in world history
21 in contrast, Jingdezhen’s orientation to distant markets encouraged creative, resourceful enterprise. Change came from the outside world, forcing potters to look beyond their mountain fastness. The spread of buddhism in China in the Sui and Tang periods meant new ceremonial paraphernalia were required; hence Jingdezhen and other pottery centers produced ceramic versions of reliquaries, alms bowls, oil lamps, and stem-cups. 22 Jingdezhen potters also produced a range of unique products for the studies of Chinese literati (rujia), such as inkstones, water droppers, brush pots, wrist rests, paperweights, and chess sets.
Hemmed in by mountains, Jingdezhen looked across the river to tombs built by merchants and shopkeepers on low hills made up largely of porcelain shards dumped there over the centuries. dentrecolles records that bodies of the poor were thrown into a place known as “the pit to inﬁnity, the grave for all the world,” at the foot of a hill ﬂaunting the sepulchers of the rich. it distressed him to contemplate the generations of unfortunates ﬂung into that abyss, the ﬂesh on their bodies consumed by quicklime.
In the early eighteenth century, on top of other orders, imperial ofﬁcials annually sent a consignment of 50,000 bowls, dishes, and plates to the capital. in addition, the emperor often commissioned similar quantities as diplomatic gifts to kings and chiefs as part of the tributary trade with overseas polities that China regarded as clients. The founder of the Ming dynasty, the Hongwu emperor (r. 19 Some three hundred kilns won designation as suppliers for the emperor, with private producers also drafted into service when beijing’s demands outran the capacity of the imperial furnaces.