Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen
National Commission of China for UNESCO
Jingdezhen City, Jiangxi Province
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The major component of Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen is the Imperial Kiln Site, which fired, produced and served porcelains for the imperial family during Ming and Qing dynasties. It includes porcelain-firing workshops and kilns ruins as well as those abundant porcelain pieces of Ming and Qing dynasties deposited underground. There also exist several civil kiln sites which reflect the system of “moulding by imperial kiln and firing by civil kiln” as well as other important kiln relics showing the imperial kilns' technical origin. Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen also include sites of porcelain-making raw materials mining and processing, trade associations guild halls, water transportation docks and other cultural relics, which are related to the production and transportation of porcelains.
These heritage sites, scattered around imperial kiln in Jingdezhen and its surrounding areas, demonstrate a complete course of development of the imperial kiln in workshop layout, kiln structure, processing technique, management system and other aspects, and provide concrete evidence for the highest level of porcelain-making craftsmanship in China and over the world. As a whole, they reveal the features and key contents of Jingdezhen as a world porcelain-making centre and an integrated model of China porcelain-making industry.
Imperial Kiln Site and other major kiln sites in Jingdezhen fully demonstrate the evolution process of China porcelain culture, reflect porcelain-making technique development course from matured to its peak, and genuinely reveal the material and technical foundation of imperial kiln established in Ming Dynasty, as well as its significant influence on the later development of the porcelain industry. The remained porcelain shards existed in the cultural deposits of different historical periods represent the spiritual pursuit of Chinese people and aesthetic taste of different times and uniquely testify the evolution of the Chinese civilization.
The exquisite craftsmanship and products of imperial kilns make great contributions to China porcelain culture as well as the development of human civilization. The large-scale porcelain export promoted intercultural communication and interaction. It clearly demonstrates China's outstanding contributions to the world trade with porcelain production in the Age of Discovery. Therefore, Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen is the exceptional testimony of the global influence of Jingdezhen porcelain-making industry.
Justification of Outstanding Universal ValueCriterion (ii): Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen are a symbol of international cultural exchanges in ceramic art. Porcelain shards deposits and kiln workshop relics reveal the innovation and evolution of porcelain-making techniques and products during the past 500 years when Jingdezhen city was crowned as the world porcelain-making centre during Ming and Qing dynasties. The scale of porcelain shards in Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Site and the comparison between porcelain specimen and survived exported porcelain prove that these kilns were main production sites of exported porcelains in Ming and Qing dynasties, where porcelains as global commodities disseminating Chinese culture to the world. To some extent, it changed other nations' lifestyles and aesthetic taste and enhanced cross-cultural dialogue. Great contributions had been made by imperial kilns porcelain-making technique to the world civilization. In the meanwhile, the porcelain products of Jingdezhen were influenced by foreign cultures, and further innovated, showcasing the cultural exchange and interaction between civilizations.
Criterion (iii): Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen reflect the unique art and culture taste of Chinese society. The porcelain-making technique reflected by the sites of workshops and kilns is a representative part of Chinese culture. Imperial kiln site and associated major kilns demonstrate the overall evolution of porcelain-making technique and management system. The porcelain shards unearthed are embodiment of Chinese people's unique characteristics and personalities, cultural ideology, and the pursuit of artistic life, especially the life and aesthetic preference of imperial family in Ming and Qing dynasties. Hence, imperial kiln and relevant kiln sites are extraordinary testimony of Chinese porcelain culture spanned over a thousand of years from late Tang Dynasty to Qing dynasties.
Criterion (iv): Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen represent the highest standard of Chinese porcelain-making industry in its peak period. They witnessed a historical phase of Jingdezhen, fast growing into the porcelain-making centre of China and the world. The sites of relevant kilns and workshops reveal the material and technical basis of imperial kiln establishment, exquisite porcelain-making techniques and advanced management skills. The layout of imperial kiln and surrounding civil kiln sites reflects the great impact of the imperial kiln establishment on the growth of porcelain industry, and testifies the system of the official supervised porcelain-making, the system of “moulding by imperial kiln and firing by civil kiln”, and other efficient management practices recorded by ancient books and records. The processing, producing, transporting and managing facilities including mines of raw materials, docks, and guild halls demonstrate the complete structure of porcelain-making industry and the scale of production with imperial kilns as the core. These elements jointly illustrate the prominent position of Jingdezhen imperial kiln in the global porcelain-making industry.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrityThe authenticity of the Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Site has been proved by the archaeological discoveries and historical records. It meets the conditions of authenticity in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of theWorld Heritage Convention.
For form and design, every kiln site preserves porcelain shards deposits from different periods which illustrate the diverse porcelain product style and type features in respective era. The major kilns and workshop sites by and large maintain the original structure form and production information. For material and substance, main sites were buried underground, thus original materials were mostly preserved; For the traditions, techniques and management system, the historical information such as technological process, firing technique and management system related to Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Site, has been verified by the archaeological evidence and the historical documents; For location and environment, all the heritage elements remain at their original location, so they jointly illustrate the characteristics of key elements of Jingdezhen as a craft industry complex and its exceptional natural resources.
Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen satisfy the conditions of integrity of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. The heritage elements of Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen jointly demonstrate outstanding universal values that they bear, and reflect the integrated structure of Jingdezhen porcelain-making industry as a handicraft industry complex with imperial kiln as the core in Ming and Qing dynasties.
Firstly, Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen preserve all the core elements of the porcelain production process. Major historical relics exist in every aspect from raw material exploiting and processing, porcelain moulding and firing, to imperial porcelain selecting and transporting, as well as production management. Relevant environmental elements are sufficient supporting evidence for the heritage’s integrity of historical information and cultural connotation. Secondly, the kiln sites as a whole include most traditional porcelain kiln types and illustrate the evolution process of imperial kiln systems during Ming and Qing dynasties. They preserved porcelain shards deposits in a continuous historical period, covering most porcelain types from Yuan to Ming and Qing dynasties, which illustrate the development of Chinese porcelain from mature period to peak period. Thirdly, Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen are overall well preserved, with threatened elements under effective control and important historical relics buried underground without disturbance and damage.
Comparison with other similar propertiesThe current List of World Heritage barely contains site which is directly related to porcelain-making industry. The list has inscribed several gold, silver, copper, iron mining cities, a textile factory and a watchmaking city. Most of them are related with industrial production, while handicraft items and especially traditional handicraft property is still lacked in the list. If the Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen were inscribed into the World Heritage List, this gap can be filled in this regard.
Compared with sites in the Tentative List, Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China, Yue Kiln Sites and Longquan Kiln Sites, Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen has many advantages: The kiln and furniture reflect advanced technique, the vast products embody aesthetic taste of Chinese traditional culture, and it represents the most complete industry system of porcelain-making craftsmanship in China.
Compared with the domestic "Most Famous Five Kilns" (i.e. Jun, Ru, Guan, Ge, Ding Kiln Sites), Imperial Kiln Sites of Jingdezhen has a longer history in ceramic firing industry, more advanced techniques, more variety of product categories, more optimized production management and play a more vital role in the global porcelain-making industry.