Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China
National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO
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Central Point Coordinates of Yue Kiln Sites at Shanglin Lake: N 30°07′50″, E 121°19'35''
Central Point Coordinates of Longquan Kiln Sites at Dayao:
Dayao (N 27°56′16″, E 119°0′08″)
Xikou (N 27°54′35″, E 118°59′07″)
Jincun Village (N 27°48′50″, E 119°0′03″)
Yangqiaotou (N27°51′10″, E 119°1′55″)
The Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China includes the serial representative sites of ancient Chinese celadon-producing kilns from the 1st to the 17th century. They are located in Zhejiang Province, a concentrated area of celadon production in China, with Yue Kiln Sites at Shanglin Lake and Longquan Kiln Sites at Dayao as two quintessence. The colossal scale and profuse historical remains of the sites substantiate the invention and lineage of the time-honored celadon making tradition of China.
The Yue Kiln Sites at Shanglin Lake are situated in the northeast of Zhejiang Province in China’s southeast coastal region. The sites include the Shanglin lake area and Silongkou kiln ruins extending to an area around 231.69 ha, surrounding the water system of the Shanglin Lake and Guyinding Lake, where 116 sites have been discovered so far. There are abundant remains of porcelain shards accumulated on the ground, buried workshops, kilns and other remains of production facilities, as well as historic settings related to porcelain production including porcelain clay zone, firewood resource zone, slopes where kilns were located, water sources and transport waterways. Yue Kiln Sites at Shanglin Lake established in the Eastern Han Dynasty (1st century) was one of the earliest cradles of porcelain making of China, representing the best art form of China’s celadon production during the Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (8th-10thcenturies), and was celadon production center of the Tang and the Song dynasties. As the extraordinary artisanship of the ancient Chinese porcelain, the Yue Kiln Sites at Shanglin Lake is one of significant kiln complex in Chinese celadon production history, and had a profound impact on the development of celadon making across China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula.
Following Yue Kiln, the Longquan Kiln Sites at Dayao is a celadon production center emerged during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. Occupying an area around 511.9 ha, it is situated in the regions of today’s Xiaomei Town and Chatian Town of Longquan City in Zhejiang Province, where 126 sites have been found by far. There are abundant porcelain making remains including accumulation of porcelain shards, remains of workshops, kilns, porcelain-making tools, and celadon related historic settings including porcelain clay zone, firewood resources zone, slopes where kilns were located, water sources, and transport waterways. They evidence the kiln’s prime time, scattering a broad area, abundant workshops and kilns and other production facilities, as well as large numbers of products of high quality. Flourishing in the Northern Song Dynasty and reaching its prime from the Southern Song Dynasty to mid-Ming Dynasty, it once became the largest porcelain production center of the country, was the mainstream craftsmanship of celadon making summit in Chinese history. Its unique artistic achievement sets an exemplar of intangible cultural heritage of mankind. With the paper-thin body, thick glazes like jade and purple rim and cinnabar base of works, Yue Kiln, known as Ge Kiln and Di Kiln in Song Dynasty, was one of the Five Prestigious Kilns of Song Dynasty.
From the 9th to the 16th century, works of Yue Kiln and Longquan Kiln were not only supplied to the imperial court and domestic folk life, but also exported to other countries and regions of Asia, Africa and Europe. Making great contributions to the development of the world civilization, its craftsmanship and products had exerted a prominent influence on ceramic production in many places of China and other regions in East Asia, Southeast Asia and North Africa.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
Representing the outstanding creative genius of ancient Chinese people, porcelain has a unique symbolic association with Chinese civilization and culture in the world. In Chinese porcelain history, celadon boasts the longest period of production, the widest scope of technical dissemination and the richest varieties of products. Yue Kiln of Shanglin Lake in Cixi and Longquan Kiln of Dayao in Longquan represent two prime times of the celadon development in China from the 8th to the 13th century (the late Tang Dynasty to the Song Dynasty). The sites have well-preserved porcelain making remains such as tremendous accumulation of porcelain shards, workshop remains, kiln remains and remnant tools, and historic settings related to celadon production. They have witnessed the formation and development of celadon industry in China from the 1st to the 17th century, present mainstream technologies and unique artistic achievements in this regard, represent the highest level of celadon production since the Tang Dynasty (the 8th century), and reveal an important development stage of the industry in ancient China. As a result, they have an incomparable place in Chinese porcelain history. Marking a significant juncture of human civilization and cultural evolution, these sites influenced not only the porcelain industry of China but also those of the rest of Asia and North Africa.
Criterion (ii): Celadon is the most broadly spread, the most influential porcelain genre with the longest history in the world. Representing the paramount of celadon art evolving from the Tang Dynasty, Five Dynasties, Song, Yuan to Ming dynasties (from the 8th to the 16th century), the Yue Kiln of Shanglin Lake and Longquan Kiln of Dayao had become the most influential of the kind in Chinese history of celadon production. Since the 9th century, its ingenuity has affected significantly the porcelain production in Korean Peninsula, Egypt, Persian region and Japanese Archipelago, promoted the development of the porcelain industry worldwide, hence contributed to the material civilization and the culture of mankind.
Criterion (iii): The Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China has a long porcelain production history, colossal relics and profuse heritage elements, which provide unique evidence of the porcelain tradition originating in China, passed down, spread and developed throughout the world. The porcelain craftsmanship and its products invented in China, have exerted a profound influence on the lifestyle of Chinese and global people in the past nearly 2,000 years. The porcelain production and wide use of porcelain products also shape a cultural tradition of global significance.
Criterion (iv): By far, the Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China, all located in the hilly area in south China, form a cluster of celadon production boasting the longest history, the largest scale and the most concentrated kilns. Within the area, there are numerous accumulations of shards, sites of kiln hearths, workshop remains as well as other environmental elements related to the site-selection of kilns such as the topography, water resources, porcelain clay material, firing materials and porcelain transport. All of them constitute a unique geomorphic landscape and provide prominent evidence of the celadon development history. Therefore, they are outstanding examples of celadon production sites and occupy an irreplaceable status in the world ceramic history.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
The remains of workshops and Dragon Kiln (a kind of kiln structure), and historical settings related to celadon production such as gentle slopes and waterway systems at the Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China, physically manifest the traits of the production tradition and technology of celadon that can be dated back to the 1st century in China. The accumulation of porcelain shards and the characteristics of remaining celadon specimens testify the historical trace of the celadon making from its birth, growth and prosperity to continuity. The Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China in Zhejiang Province boast large numbers of kiln remains and abundant heritage elements, which testify the historical fact that the sites had been the celadon production center of Zhejiang since the Tang Dynasty. Since their abandonment, the sites have been preserved in their natural condition and never obstructed, thus kept a high degree of authenticity.
The Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China preserves the entire porcelain production elements that include the remains of workshops, Dragon Kiln remains, accumulation of porcelain shards, as well as the gentle slopes, waterways, and other related natural settings reflecting features of site-selection and production of porcelain making. In addition, the sites have abundant relics preserved in good condition that demonstrate their massive scale, various workshops and clustered kilns with high heritage value. The sites also have integral landscape settings which fully reflect features of kiln construction and use of clay, firing materials, water resources and porcelain transport. Shanglin Lake Institute of Cultural Heritage Protection, Dayao Longquan Kiln Cultural Heritage Protection Institute (Longquan Museum), as the heritage administration, have formulated and executed administration provisions and cultural heritage protection measures to control the farming, entombment and construction activities adjacent to the sites. The sites are well preserved and enjoy a good state of integrity.
Comparison with other similar properties
Porcelain-related heritage sites are categorized into three kinds: firstly, kilns in large city sites, which are small porcelain making facilities for small-scale production to meet the demands of a limited group, such as Baekje Kiln of Iksan Historic Areas in ROK; secondly, large clusters of kiln sites, mainly as a production center with larger kilns and longer history, which are well preserved, have popular works and larger influence, such as Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China; thirdly, heritage sites with unearthed porcelains, which were traded or imported, used as evidence of cultural exchange, such as the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara, the remains of two great ports in Tanzania.
From the comparison of the preceding three kinds of cultural heritage, the small kilns within city sites of the first category, although having kilns and other production related remains, are small-scaled and lacking historic continuity. They are less influential. Heritage sites with unearthed porcelains of the third category do not have kilns, porcelain shards and remnant tools to demonstrate their production craftsmanship, facilities, scale and setting characteristic of ceramic industry. The Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China, as typical large-scale kiln complex, can provide traces of technology evolution, reflecting the technical development relations with the heritages of the first category. The international porcelain trade history from the late Tang Dynasty to the mid-Ming Dynasty can testify the spread and influence of the ceramic culture, and are an indispensable reference for studying human civilization and the cross-cultural exchange, being a mutual evidence with the heritages of the third category.
In the Tentative List (the World Heritage List currently does not have properties of porcelain kiln sites), there are only two porcelain heritage sites, i.e. the Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China and Kangjingun Kiln Sites of ROK. Kangjingun Kiln Sites, also a celadon kiln cluster, were created in the Koryo period (918-1392), eight centuries later than Yue Kiln Sites at Shanglin Lake. So far a total of 188 kiln sites have been found, concentrating in four areas including Yongun-ni, Kyeyul-li, Sadang-ni, and Sudong-ni of Kangjin-gun. In these sites dating from the 10th-11th centuries, porcelain shards, porcelain-making tools originating from Yue Kiln of China were discovered. Through study and comparative analysis of the kiln structure, porcelain-making tools and final products, we can clearly see that the porcelain-making technology of Korean Peninsula was greatly influenced by China's celadon genre. It is fair to conclude Kangjingun Kiln was inspired by Yue Kiln at Shanglin Lake.
Among many ancient kiln sites so far extant in China, Yue Kiln Sites at Shanglin Lake and Longquan Kiln Sites at Dayao representing the celadon genre boast the longest production history, widest dissemination, and greatest influence, with a large number of well-preserved kiln sites in colossal scale and the most comprehensive porcelain production sites. No matter in time span, scale, heritage elements, authenticity and integrity, as the best affirmative evidence of porcelain-making traditions of China, the nominated property has outstanding universal value.
In conclusion, for the prominence of Chinese porcelain in the world and the representativeness of the Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China among Chinese porcelain sites, the importance of Yue Kiln Sites at Shanglin Lake and Longquan Kiln Sites at Dayao among the same or similar porcelain-related sites of the world is unparalleled. Of great values, they can fill in the gap of porcelain kiln sites on the World Heritage List, and are indispensable heritage in the world.