National Geographic : 1920 Nov
THE WORLD'S ANCIENT PORCELAIN CENTER BY FRANK B. LENZ With Illustrations from Photographs by the Author CHINA is a land of literature, art, and scholarship. It is also a land of ignorance, superstition, and misery. It is the country made famous by the printing-press, mariner's compass, gunpowder, the Great Wall, tea, silk, jade, paper, and ancient porcelain; it is the home of plague, famine, intrigue, flood, graft, and corruption. Conservative of the conservatives, it is also a radical among radicals. One sees in every city ancient, decaying temples, with their oriental systems of religion gradually giving way to the progressive, onward march of civilization. Change, change; nothing is permanent in China but change. Industrially the country is in the same state that Europe was in before the ap proach of the industrial revolution. It is in the handicraft stage of development; but in cities like Canton, Shanghai, Han kow, Changsha, and Tientsin the most modern machinery of the twentieth cen tury is seen in operation every day. This is not China. The real China has yet to learn the value of the machine. FOUR-FIFTHS OF CHINA'S POPULATION IS DEVOTED TO MANUAL LABOR Perhaps the only factor which permits China to compete in a commercial way with the rest of the world is its cheapness of labor. It has been repeatedly said that the cheapest and most abundant thing in the country is human life. The common man of the farm or of the city is the coolie, properly called "k'u li," or, better, strength. When we reflect that 80 per cent of China's vast population is forced to labor hard, barehanded, for a mere physical existence, we can begin to grasp the significance of its industrial situa tion. No modern inventions; no ma chines have come to set it free. Like Edwin Markham's "Man with the Hoe," the Chinese worker feels the weight of centuries of toil upon his shoulders. The economic problem today is tragic, and were it not for its natural character istics of patience, China would be in the throes of a bloody revolution. THE HOME OF THE WORLD'S PORCELAIN INDUSTRY The greatest industrial city of China is not one of the treaty ports, where the direct influence of Western progress is constantly felt, but a bustling interior city of Kiangsi Province-Ching-teh-chen.* This is the famous porcelain and pottery center of the nation-indeed, it is the original home of the porcelain industry of the world. There are few cities in America or Europe that are so completely given over to a single industry as this one. Though the methods of production are primitive, the city must still be classed as an indus trial center. It was my rare privilege to visit this conservative, but interesting, old place and see with my own eyes the fascinating process of pottery-making from beginning to end. Chinaware! What does the word con note? It is simply a ware made of clay and named for the country that first produced it. Whether it be a green tile from a temple roof, a dish, a vase, or a painted ornament from a wealthy Celes tial's home, it all has a traceable connec tion with Ching-teh-chen. With the Chinese, Ching-teh-chen and porcelain are synonymous. In order to get a fair understanding of the situation, it will first be necessary to let the reader know the location of this place and something of the difficul ties in reaching it. HOW TO REACH CHING-TEII -CHEN After locating Shanghai on the map of China, one should trace his way up the Yangtze River to Kiukiang, south of which lies Po Yang Lake. The quickest and surest way of reaching Ching-teh *The city is designated on many maps as King-teh-chen, King-te-chin, or Chang-nan chen.