* In ancient China, Jingdezhen saw ceramics exported through the Silk Road.
* Now, the BRI has injected new vitality into the porcelain capital.
* About 1,000 foreigners currently live in Jingdezhen.
NANCHANG, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) — At 13, Emrah Hakan Caliskan had his first encounter with porcelain at a museum in his hometown of Istanbul, Türkiye.
In the Topkapi Palace Museum, he was particularly enchanted by the Chinese blue-and-white porcelain there. In 2015, after studying Chinese for four years, he traveled to Jingdezhen, the world-famous “porcelain capital” in east China’s Jiangxi Province.
“The city’s complete system of handmade ceramics inspired me to settle down and engage in ceramics export trading,” said the 40-year-old.
This photo taken with a mobile phone shows Turkish ceramics export trader Emrah Hakan Caliskan and his wife visiting a ceramics store in Jingdezhen, east China’s Jiangxi Province, Oct. 9, 2023. (Xinhua/Zhu Yunuo)
Jingdezhen’s history in ceramic craftsmanship spans over 2,000 years.
In ancient China, Jingdezhen saw batches of ceramics exported to Central Asia, West Asia, Europe and Africa through the Silk Road. Now, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has injected new vitality into the porcelain capital, attracting large numbers of foreigners keen to chase their dreams, while its porcelain products are exported to 37 BRI countries and regions. There are currently about 1,000 foreigners living in the city.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the BRI, which was proposed by China.
AN OPEN CITY
The porcelain produced in Jingdezhen bears testimony to the city’s openness and inclusiveness, according to Caliskan.
Hundreds of years ago, smalt, an ingredient from West Asia, was imported into the city via the ancient Silk Road and then adopted to create the renowned Chinese blue-and-white porcelain.
“Today, as a merchant from West Asia, I export Chinese ceramic products to BRI countries, including my home country of Türkiye and Italy,” said Caliskan.
He is married to Cheng Linyao, a native of the area and a municipal-level inheritor of porcelain making. The couple have set up their own ceramic brand and Cheng is trying to combine Turkish patterns with traditional Chinese blue-and-white porcelain in her creations.
“We would like to showcase Chinese ceramics containing diverse cultures to the world,” said Cheng.
This photo taken on May 1, 2023 shows a view of the Taoxichuan Ceramic Art Avenue at night in Jingdezhen, east China’s Jiangxi Province. (Xinhua)
Jingdezhen’s allure as a global ceramics destination is evident at the International Ceramic Studio of Jingdezhen Ceramic University, where porcelain lovers from approximately 50 countries converge.
As the only multi-disciplinary university named after ceramics in China, the university has recruited over 70 students from nine BRI partners over the past 10 years, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mongolia and Malaysia.
After graduating from the university in 2017, Ebikia Mbwanga Stanis, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, returned three months ago, joining the studio.
“Jingdezhen is the best place to gain insight into ceramics. There are perfect ceramic facilities here and many ceramic museums and galleries. I can focus on my creation here,” said Stanis, 41.
Ebikia Mbwanga Stanis (R), a ceramic artist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, introduces a piece of artwork to a visitor at Jingdezhen Ceramic University in Jingdezhen, east China’s Jiangxi Province, Sept. 29, 2023. (Xinhua)
After sharing Jingdezhen with other ceramic artists on social media, Stanis said that many foreign artists have expressed their interest in the city. With his help, one foreign artist has joined him here, with three others set to come soon.
Zhang Jingjing, dean of the university’s international school, said many overseas students and artists have fallen for Jingdezhen and opted to stay, boosting the pool of international talent for the development of the city.
“We welcome friends from all over the world,” said Zhang.
(Video reporters: Wang Yihan, Zhu Yunuo, Wang Zhongqing; Video editors: Zhang Yueyuan, Hong Yan, Wei Yin) ■