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Introduction and history

The Yuan dynasty (1280–1368) was established after the Mongols conquered and consolidated the Northern Jin in 1234 and the Southern Song in 1279. Kilns that had been producing ceramics in the earlier dynasties were encouraged to continue their production. Of the kilns located throughout China, Jingdezhen of Jiangxi province was particularly prosperous. Before controlling the entirety of China, the Yuan authority established the Fuliang Porcelain Bureau in 1278, and in 1283 the Bureau of Imperial Manufacture to supervise craftsmen who were employed to produce luxury goods for the imperial household. Porcelain production was a vital industry in the Yuan dynasty as it generated considerable export profits. Taxes from trade vessels were collected by customs officials, while Ortoghs—West Asian merchant groups—operated trading businesses, along with semi-state-controlled organisations that were administrated in major coastal port cities such as Shanghai, Hangzhou and Quanzhou. With such a vast market and soaring demand, the Yuan soon became a golden age for the development and innovation of the ceramics industry. The Mongols conquered vast areas of land across Eurasia, in turn fostering frequent cultural exchange. Many exotic material cultures were assimilated—especially from West Asia and Tibet—which Yuan ceramics then incorporated into their forms and motifs to appeal to the overseas export markets. Yuan ceramics succeeded in both inheriting the Song traditions and innovating with exotic means of production that left an invaluable legacy on the Ming dynasty through global export.

公元1234及1279年,蒙古人分別征服了金、宋二朝,建立元朝(1280–1368年)。在蒙古人的統治下,各地從早期朝代開始便已生產陶瓷的窯廠被允許繼續營運、燒製陶瓷,其中以江西景德鎮產瓷最為鼎盛。宋室尚存時,元府已於至正十五年(1278年)設立「浮梁磁局」,後於至元二十年 (1283年)設「將作院」,以監督工匠,訂製官府、皇室所用器物。瓷器外銷,利潤甚巨,為元朝重要產業。元朝設 「市舶司」,向進出港口船隻徵稅,元朝亦參與海外貿易,委託西亞斡脫商人經營業務,並設 「官本船」於沿岸港口城市如上海、杭州、泉州 等,與商人合營貿易。可見市場之大,需求之多,故陶業發展昌盛,帶動創新。 蒙古帝國幅員廣闊,橫亙歐亞,促成許多文化交流機會。元朝對異域文化兼收並蓄,亦為切合海外市場需求,對陶瓷的器型及紋飾進行創新,融入西亞、西藏等地的物質文化。故元代瓷器不僅承襲宋朝傳統,亦屢見創新,繼而外銷至世界各地。其造瓷文化更延續至明朝,流傳後世。


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