Fragments of a Global Past: Ceramics Manufacture in Song-Yuan-Ming Jingdezhen

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Anne Gerritsen Asia Research Institute (NUS) and History Department, Warwick University, Great Britain

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This essay explores textual genres related to the production of ceramics in Jingdezhen, including maps, literati collections, the literature of connoisseurship, local gazetteers, and merchant manuals. An analysis of these genres brings the Chinese textual record of ceramics into sharper focus and reveals what has remained unwritten. Whereas European writings on Chinese ceramics from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries dwell on modes of manufacture in a global context, Chinese writers generally ignore matters of technology and commerce beyond the confines of the Chinese realm. These omissions emerge in part from the peculiarities of the genres within which these writings have been transmitted. Cet essai examine les différents genres de textes qui ont trait à la production de la céramique dans Jingdezhen. Parmi ces textes, il se trouve des cartes géographiques, des collections d'écrits de 'literati', des monographies locales et des manuels de commerce. L'analyse de ces genres permet d'approfondir notre compréhension de la tradition écrite au sujet de la céramique, tout en révélant en même temps, ce qui reste implicite en ces textes. Les auteurs chinois ne s'attardent pas aux questions de technologie, ni au commerce au-delà des confins de l'Empire chinois. Le présent essai suggère que ces omissions s'expliquent par les conventions des genres auxquels ces écrits appartiennent.

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