How Porcelain Changed China - 5 world-reaching effects of the china trade

How Porcelain Changed China - 5 world-reaching effects of the china trade

By Fercility JiangUpdated Mar. 18, 2021
Chinese porcelain

Porcelain changed China by 1) improving quality of life, 2) catalyzing industrial progress, 3) promoting international trade, 4) generating prosperity, and 5) making China famous.

China made porcelain strong and attractive, and china in turn made imperial China stronger and more attractive. There's no other product in the world that has achieved such a lasting influence for hundreds of years.

1. Porcelain Improved Flavors and Hygiene

Before porcelain's usage, pottery bowls, pots, jugs, etc. were the main things used to serve and store food and drink.

Porcelain's applicationWontons in porcelain bowl

While pottery was cheap, it had a big disadvantage: permeability. This meant it absorbed liquids, so that it took on the flavor of whatever was last in it. It couldn't be cleaned very well, leaving smells and germs…and it scratched and cracked easily.

With its toughness, thinner, lighter, more-elegant shapes, durability, and easy-clean glassy finish, porcelain was instantly accepted by people as the better alternative to pottery, and quickly improved people's lives, especially eating and drinking.

2. Porcelain Snowballed China's Industrial Development

Bamboo weavingBamboo weaving

Generally, a new industry's birth promotes associated industries' development - porcelain went beyond that…

Porcelain's invention not only created new jobs in the kilns, but also spurred on everything around them: from quarrying, forestry, shipbuilding, and transportation, to kiln and workshop construction and tool-making, to printing, design, and painting.

Also, porcelain attracted lots of foreigners to China's ports, who normally purchased other Chinese products with their must-have porcelain, from silk to handicrafts to tea. In this way, many other seemingly totally unrelated industries were promoted.

3. Porcelain Promoted China's International Trade

Chinese porcelain's export

Since the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), Chinese porcelain was carried to the West on the Silk Road routes. But in the Song era (960–1279), Chinese porcelain was exported in unprecedented quantities thanks to the prosperous maritime trade. China was then the most prosperous technologically advanced country in the world.

There was no shortage of demand, as china was not only something every Chinese household wanted, but also anyone who had heard of it from abroad.

4. Porcelain Meant Prosperity

Porcelain has brought amount wealth for ChinaPorcelain has brought amount wealth for China

From the Song Dynasty, the mass export of porcelain brought an enormous amount of income to imperial China. Alongside businessmen's commercial profits, the government and Chinese nation also profited from it.

Vast revenue was delivered to the imperial court through taxes, which funded things that enhanced China's status, from military campaigns and Great Wall building to palaces, entertainment, and imperial life.

5. Porcelain Boosted China's Image and Diplomacy

Chinese porcelain is literally synonymous with China (albeit with a small 'c'): china was China's ambassador.

ChinaChinese porcelain

Through the Silk Roads and maritime trade, porcelain was introduced to the world, and the world was introduced to China. It then won over merchants and monarchs alike with its excellent characteristics: practicality, toughness, and beauty. "Made in China" didn't mean cheap and low-quality in those days!

Porcelain became the representative product of China, giving many all over the world their first interaction with China. Today, most Chinese people are still proud of the Chinese invention of porcelain.

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