The cargo of the Tang Shipwreck in the ACM collection contains over 50,000 high-fired polychrome underglaze ceramic bowls. They were on their way to markets in the Middle East. While the bowls are impressive as works of art, they are perhaps even more impressive as an example of the large-scale, mass production techniques pioneered in the late Tang era.
From the moment the ship dropped anchor in China and submitted its order, the kiln site (near modern Changsha, Hunan province) had only a few months to produce the entire shipment. This involved wheel-throwing, painting, glazing, firing, packing up, and shipping to port. How could this have been accomplished? Using Tang historical documents, archaeological evidence, a site visit to Changsha, and a close study of the bowls in the ACM collection, Professor Chittick paints a vivid portrait of one of the world’s first industrial communities and the logistics that allowed its exports to reach markets worldwide.
About the speaker
Andrew Chittick, currently a Research Fellow at the Asian Civilizations Museum, is the E. Leslie Peter Professor of East Asian Humanities and History at Eckerd College, St Petersburg, Florida. His primary research is on the political, economic, and cultural history of southern China in the first millennium AD. He has published on topics including Chinese ethnic identity, vernacular languages, local history writing, southern Chinese military strategy, and the history of dragon boat racing. His current research focuses on early maritime connections between southern China and Southeast Asia. He is the author of Patronage and Community in Medieval China: The Xiangyang Garrison, 400–600 CE (2010); his next book, The Jiankang Empire in Chinese and World History, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
This lecture is free. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No registration is required.
Image: Tanjiapo Relics Museum, outside Changsha, China. Photo courtesy of Andrew Chittick.