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Jingdezhen - Craftmanship of artisans in China's Porcelain Capital

Like many ceramics artists in Jingdezhen, China's "porcelain capital," Ali gets fired up when he talks about his ceramic dreams.

Ali was born in 1948 in Nanchang, capital city of east China's Jiangxi Province. His mother was Chinese and his father was a member of the royal family of the Ottoman Empire who fled to China in 1925 after the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923.

He started studying Chinese painting and calligraphy when he was five, and Ali, or Wu Jinhai by his Chinese name, has grown into a famous artist who owns a studio in Beijing.

But after drawing on paper for half a century, last year Ali decided to apply his talents to pottery. Fascinated with the medium, he chose to settle in Jingdezhen to further develop his passion for ceramic art.

Pottery has been made in China for over 1,000 years -- the abundance of loess provided the ideal raw materials that could be fired in high-temperature kilns. But it was not until the Song Dynasty (960-1,279) that potters in Jingdezhen created true porcelain by adding the mineral kaolin to China-stone and cranking the kiln temperature above 1,300 degrees Celsius.

Jingdezhen became famous for the production of blue-and-white porcelainwares, once among the most precious and desirable objects in the world.

For Ali, Jingdezhen is undoubtedly a ceramics paradise because of its Chinese traditional ceramic crafts, materials and variety of professional talents and resources.

"The plentiful resources of ceramics production materials and skilled craftsmen in Jingdezhen have no comparison elsewhere in the world," he said.  "I want to devote the rest of my life here, studying and making blue-and-white porcelain," he said.

Besides offering opportunities for established ceramics artists like Ali, Jingdezhen also helps blossoming artists achieve their dreams.

In the suburb of Jingdezhen, many ceramics craftsmen gather in the Pottery Workshop, or the Letian ceramics community, with hundreds of ceramics workshops and pottery studios.

The workshop provides lectures on the ceramic arts on Friday nights. There is also a pottery market on the weekends where young artists can sell small pieces of ceramic art they produce, such as tableware and jewelry.

"If I'm lucky, I can get orders and earn my first pot of gold," said Yu Bingyou, a fresh graduate from the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute whose booth is tucked into a cluster of ceramics outlets lining the streets.  "Artists can communicate and learn from each other while selling their handmade porcelain items in my market, which also helps them come up with new ideas," said Zheng Yi, who set up the workshop in Jingdezhen in 2005.

Looking ahead, Ali said he plans to set up a China-Turkey research institute in Jingdezhen, which will focus on the collection of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain being stored in Istanbul's Topkapi Palace Museum.

Ali also plans to build a plant in Jingdezhen to produce his own brand of pottery. "If I cannot fulfill the dream during my lifetime, my son will carry on," he said.

jingdezhen ceramic culture


jingdezhen ceramic culture


jingdezhen ceramic culture


jingdezhen ceramic culture


jingdezhen ceramic culture


jingdezhen ceramic culture

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