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Porcelain is an important symbol of excellent traditional Chinese culture, has played an important role in promoting Sino-foreign exchanges, China's English "China" is the meaning of porcelain, the Maritime Silk Road is also known as the "porcelain road". In ancient times, China's main export force was silk, porcelain and tea, which swept the world after thousands of years, confirming the mutual learning between Chinese and foreign civilizations, and fully reflecting the peaceful nature of Chinese civilization. In sharp contrast, in modern times, Western imperialism has dumped opium, sold arms, and engaged in colonial plunder against Eastern countries. This column takes you to revisit porcelain, the representative commodity of China on the Maritime Silk Road, appreciate the shining cultural charm of Chinese porcelain, reminisce about the traditional friendship of people-to-people exchanges, and reveal the historical logic of a community with a shared future for mankind.

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▲ Silk Road map. (Image source: Earth Knowledge Bureau)

▲Five generations of secret color lotus bowl Suzhou Museum collection.

"The nine autumn wind and dew are more and more kiln open, and the green color of thousands of peaks is captured. It is good to be in the middle of the night, and the cup of the scattered bucket in the middle of the day. ”

This is the poem "Secret Color Yue Device" by the Tang Dynasty poet Tortoise Meng. The autumn morning breeze is slightly cold, and when the frost and dew are thick, I see the secret color porcelain of the Yue kiln fired by the fire of the kiln, which is like a treasure like a green daisy, as if seizing the emerald color of the thousands of peaks and obstacles. It seems that through the tortoise's eyes, you can get a glimpse of Ji Kang, who is "scattered in Guangling".

Yue kiln celadon is known as "mother porcelain". The past is like smoke, but through the treasures of celadon, we can think about the past of the more millennial porcelain, or know how the star commodities of the Maritime Silk Road came into the spotlight of the historical stage.

There are more kilns that have been passed down through the ages: the quiet years of the more kiln celadons

Earth gives the body, fire gives life, and man shapes the soul. The history of the evolution of celadon is closely related to the development of Chinese civilization. Now unearthed the earliest "celadon", is the tomb of the Shang Dynasty in Minggong Road, Zhengzhou, Henan Province, the blue glaze printed Dakouzun, its blue color comes from the iron element in the glaze, because it is in the transition stage of pottery to porcelain, this kind of porcelain is called "early celadon". However, due to the natural conditions and craftsmanship, this kind of pottery and porcelain is not yet a real porcelain.

▲Shang Dynasty blue glaze printed Dakouzun Henan Museum collection.

Mr. Xia Nai, the founder of modern archaeology in China, pointed out that "primitive porcelain gradually improved in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and finally porcelain appeared in the late Han Dynasty, which became one of the characteristics of Chinese civilization." Linking the three keywords of "porcelain", "late Han Dynasty" and "lower reaches of the Yangtze River", it is not difficult to introduce the "mother porcelain" status of Yue kiln celadon. The celadon at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty has a good degree of porcelainization, a firm combination of tire glaze, and a crisp percussion sound, which is a mature porcelain. Its heirloom products are full of ancient and simple atmosphere.

During the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, the change of political power and the integration of nationalities, the interpretation of the old people's thoughts was unprecedented, and the art of porcelain made reflected the change of social aesthetic consciousness at that time. Yue kiln celadon began to use a variety of molding methods such as wheel system, pinching, molding, etc., combined with Buddhism and Taoism, launched many new models - lotus petal pattern and honeysuckle pattern are used in large quantities, and the beast-shaped zun, chicken head pot, sheep-shaped ware, and lion-shaped ware are even more varied.

▲Yue kiln celadon and Xing kiln white porcelain.

In the Tang Dynasty, which is diverse, open and has strong national strength, porcelain workshops are blooming everywhere and competing for beauty. During this period, celadon completed the transformation from the fetal quality is still gray and loose, to the fetal bone is fine and light, and it is said that "the south is green and the north is white". "Beibai" refers to Xingyao white porcelain, while "Nanqing" refers to Yue kiln celadon. Lu Yu, a tea saint who is very particular about tea drinking utensils, commented, "Xing porcelain is silver, Yue porcelain is jade, Xing porcelain is snow, Yue porcelain is ice, Xing porcelain is white and brown Dan, Yue porcelain is green and brown is green." Lu Yu's assertion is that "Xing is not as good as Yue" and "bowl, more kiln", indicating that the status of Yue kiln celadon in the industry at that time had reached its peak.

▲ Baoji City, Shaanxi Province, Fufeng County, Famen Temple Underground Palace "Clothing Account" stele Famen Temple Museum collection.

Around the late Tang Dynasty, the secret color porcelain appeared, and the artistic level of Yue kiln celadon reached an incomparably lofty position. What is a secret color? The Song Dynasty Zhao Lingqi's "Hou Mackerel Record" recorded that "today's secret color porcelain, the world says that the Qian family has a country, and Yuezhou burns in, which is a thing to worship, and the ministers are not allowed to use it, so it is called the secret color." "Qian's" refers to the Wu Yue Kingdom during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, and the Qian family attaches great importance to the secret color porcelain of the Yue kiln, and the secret color porcelain once became tribute porcelain. However, what kind of color the secret color is, later generations still have different opinions. In 1987, 14 pieces of secret color porcelain were unearthed in the Tadi Palace of Famen Temple in Fufeng County, Shaanxi Province, as well as the stele of "Clothing Account". The stele uploads "seven porcelain secret color bowls, two silver edges inside; There are a total of six porcelain secret color plates and stacks", and the mystery of the secret color is finally revealed.

▲ The record of the Yamatai Kingdom in the "Romance of the Three Kingdoms".

During the Wei and Jin dynasties, Yue kiln celadon became the "top goods" in East Asia through the sea route. Japanese tombs have unearthed bronze mirrors with the name of "Chiwu" in Eastern Wu and fragments of celadon from the Yue kiln. During the Chiwu period, it was the reign of Queen Himiko of the Yamatai Kingdom, and it was also an important period for the rapid development of Yueyao celadon. According to the records of the "Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms", the envoys of the Wei State at that time visited Japan, "solemnly gave you (Yamatai Kingdom) good things", in addition to awarding Queen Himihu a gold seal on behalf of the pro-Wei Wa King, but also rewarded the Japanese subjects with five horses of Jiangdi Jiaolong brocade, ten pieces of Chiu Su Zong, 50 horses of Qianjiang, 50 horses of Qingqing, 3 horses of Wenwen Brocade of Qiandi, five pieces of fine Banhua Zong, 50 pieces of white silk, eight taels of gold, two five-foot knives, 100 bronze mirrors (with the inscription of "the third year of Jingchu"), 50 catties of real pearls and Danzhu, but there is no mention of celadon. It can probably be inferred that the celadon products of the Yue kiln under the rule of Sun Wu are indeed precious and rare things.

Coincidentally, the Korean Peninsula has also unearthed the Yue kiln celadon tiger in the Western Jin Dynasty, as well as the Eastern Jin Dynasty and the Southern Dynasties of the chicken head pot, sheep shape ware and other Yue kiln celadon products.

Li Tang Yue Machine: The "Star" of the Maritime Silk Road

Since the Tang Dynasty, Mingzhou Port (now Ningbo Port), as a deep-water port and close to Cixi, Shangyu and other kiln producing areas, has become an important foreign trade port, shouldering the historical mission of economic and cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries, and is one of the starting points of the Maritime Silk Road.

▲The road map of the Maritime Silk Road of the Tang Dynasty. (Image source: official website of Fujian Provincial Library)

The route of the Maritime Silk Road in the Tang Dynasty was mainly divided into three directions and four routes: northeast, from Myeongju through Black Mountain Island to Yeongam in Jeollanam-do, Jeollanam-do, on the Korean Peninsula; To the east, it crosses the East China Sea from Meishu to Amami Oshima Island in southern Japan, then sails north to Satsuma after a long night and a long time, then turns to Satsuma, and goes north to Hakata and Tsukushi, and from the Seto Inland Sea to Gyeonggi Namba Mitsuura; Southward, one from Mingzhou south through the Taiwan Strait, southeast to the Philippine Islands, then along Luzon, Mindoro, Cebu, Mindanao, the west coast of the Sulu Islands, through the northwest coast of Kalimantan Island to Java, Sumatra, then through the Strait of Malacca, through the Nicobar Islands and the Andaman Islands, through the Bay of Bengal, to the east coast of India, south to Sri Lanka, and then along the west coast north to the Persian Gulf, at this time can be landed by Sillaf and deep into the interior of Iran, at the end of the Persian Gulf, tracing the Tigris River to Tesfon, Samarra and Abirta, either along the southern shore of the Arabian Peninsula through Oman to the Gulf of Aden, or through the Red Sea north to the port of Ayizab and Qusayr, and then across the desert to the Nile River down the river to Fustat; The other departs from Mingzhou and goes south to Guangzhou and Champong, and goes around the Malay Peninsula to Sumatra, and then coincides with the previous route.

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▲The monsoon route once brought huge profits to the trading activities of Arab merchants. Today, it can also be the base point for our journey through the Maritime Silk Road. (Image source: Human History on Maps)

▲ Japan's entry into Tang customs clearance documents.

Through the hands of a large number of merchants, Yueyao celadon was invited to board a ship and sailed to the Maritime Silk Road, through turbulent waves, not far across the ocean, as far as Ethiopia, Egypt, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Oman, Iran, Iraq, and as close as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. With celadon as the medium, a huge trade network across Asia and Africa has been formed between China and foreign countries.

During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, Wu Yueguo gave the secret color porcelain to the Japanese imperial family as a gift for foreign affairs. The route runs from Meishu to the Tokai Sea to the southwest coast of Kyushu and then to Hakata Port to Kyoto. As soon as the secret color porcelain arrived in Kyoto, it was regarded as the most precious Tang object by the Imperial Family. Emperor Daigo's fourth son, Prince Shigeaki, recorded in his "Records of the Officials of the King" that "on the ninth day of June in the fifth year of the heavenly calendar, the imperial meal agarwood was folded and dressed, and the bottle was made of secret color." It is conceivable that the incense burns and the light smoke rises slowly, and the secret color porcelain like ice and jade adds an elegant artistic conception.

▲ "Shang Yaoju" inscription celadon box collection of the National Museum of Korea.

With the competition of various countries for the celadon of the Yue kiln, the imitation of overseas celadon has risen. Goryeo celadon produced on the Korean Peninsula appeared in large quantities, and even the "Goryeo secret color" appeared, and it was sold in reverse to eastern Zhejiang. The Sarutou kiln near Nagoya, Japan, produces a large number of pottery products similar to celadon in shape, ornamentation, and glaze. After the 9th century, even Egyptian craftsmen began to imitate the Yue kiln celadon to make pottery. These imitations show the craftsmen's admiration for Yue kiln celadon and their sincere admiration for Chinese culture.

▲Yue kiln secret color porcelain eight-sided net bottle collection of the Palace Museum.

The treasure celadon will never fade under the long river of history, and the story of the Maritime Silk Road continues.

(About author: Wei Shijun, Ph.D. candidate, School of History and Culture, Hubei University)

(Dao Zhonghua WeChat public account)