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Britain’s Asian Century: Porcelain And Global History In The Long Eighteenth Century

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Chapter Summary

Chinese export wares penetrated widely and deeply into European culture; the Embassy was in fact the culmination of a long period which author calls the Asian Century of continuous trade between Britain, China and India. This chapter focuses on China's success in creating major export ware sector in luxury and consumer goods appealing to Western consumers. The trade from Asia by the mid eighteenth century was providing quality ware for Europe's middle ranks. Porcelain became one of China's most distinctive export-ware products. Consumer markets in Europe were made for quality goods that were not high luxuries for elites only. Large-scale production deploying modular systems and division of labour combined with geographical concentration of private and official factories and kilns in major centre, Jingdezhen. This created the global export ware that passed in Europe from exotic collectable to the expected props of the daily routines of polite civility and respectable sociability.

Keywords: Asian century; Britain; consumer revolutions; eighteenth century; European markets; international trade; kilns; porcelain

10.1163/ej.9789004189348.i-259.26
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9789004189348.i-259.26
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