Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Priceless porcelain




And I love porcelain. If there's one thing I've learned from Japanese cuisine, it's that the plate you use is as important to presentation as how you arrange the food. These porcelain pieces were on display at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum, all of them from the late Ming, early Qing dynasties, from JingDeZhen, an old town in JiangXi province known for the quality of its porcelain. This area has produced porcelain for 2000 years, and is absolutely the finest example of the art - JingDeZhen porcelain has been romanticized as being as thin as paper, as white as jade, as bright as a mirror, and as sound as a bell.

Beautiful, no? The simplicity of the design, but the utter perfection in the form, just an incredibly fine example of what Chinese craftsmanship used to be like. This town became well-known over the centuries, and became the exclusive supplier to the Imperial Court. Legend has it that if pieces were rejected for subpar quality, they were smashed inside of being sold off for cheap, to ensure that every piece of JingDeZhen porcelain in use reflected the absolute highest quality. We can learn so much from the dedication of these craftsmen, and the true passion they had for their craft.

There are pieces that can seem immediately dated - these personify the idea of timelessness. So, so beautiful, and incredibly, at 500 or so years old, still perfectly able to provide service at dinner. Sigh . . . to go back to the days when Made in China wasn't a bad word.


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