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Hyperbox Club: Porcelain Quest  "The cultural and technological shifts that accompanied the rise of the social Web have changed people’s expectations of what makes educational experiences worthwhile or appealing. People now assume the right to co-opt and redistribute institutional content and add to it, not just to look at it.  Shifts in the way people respond to pictures and their labels will change the way that cultural institutions of all types, from museums to libraries to for-profit “experience vendors,” do business".  Porcelain Quest is a personal collection of pictures, texts and websites which constitutes a learning framework for understanding the complex subject of 'porcelain'.  It is a MindMapWebQuest and a development of 'cabinets of curiosities' by Mind Map: Hyperbox Club: Porcelain Quest  "The cultural and technological shifts that accompanied the rise of the social Web have changed people’s expectations of what makes educational experiences worthwhile or appealing. People now assume the right to co-opt and redistribute institutional content and add to it, not just to look at it.  Shifts in the way people respond to pictures and their labels will change the way that cultural institutions of all types, from museums to libraries to for-profit “experience vendors,” do business".  Porcelain Quest is a personal collection of pictures, texts and websites which constitutes a learning framework for understanding the complex subject of 'porcelain'.  It is a MindMapWebQuest and a development of 'cabinets of curiosities'
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Hyperbox Club: Porcelain Quest  "The cultural and technological shifts that accompanied the rise of the social Web have changed people’s expectations of what makes educational experiences worthwhile or appealing. People now assume the right to co-opt and redistribute institutional content and add to it, not just to look at it.  Shifts in the way people respond to pictures and their labels will change the way that cultural institutions of all types, from museums to libraries to for-profit “experience vendors,” do business".  Porcelain Quest is a personal collection of pictures, texts and websites which constitutes a learning framework for understanding the complex subject of 'porcelain'.  It is a MindMapWebQuest and a development of 'cabinets of curiosities'

In 2005, engineer and sociologist Jyri Engeström used the term “social objects” and the related phrase “object-centered sociality” to address the distinct role of objects in online social networks.  Engeström argued that discrete objects, not general content or interpersonal relationships, form the basis for the most successful social networks. For example, on the picture-sharing site, Flickr, you don’t socialise generally about photography or pictures, as you might on a photography-focused website. Instead, you socialize around specific shared images, discussing discrete photographic objects. Each photo is a node in the social network that triangulates the users who create, critique, and consume it.  Just as the website ‘LibraryThing’ connects people via books instead of reading, ‘Flickr’ connects people via photos instead of art-making.

Cowrie

Cowry or cowrie, plural cowries, is the common name for a group of small to large sea snails, marine gastropod mollusca in the family  Cypraeidae, the cowries. The word cowry is also often used to refer only to the shells of these snails, which overall are often shaped more or less like an egg (egg cowries), except that they are rather flat on the underside.

Meaning of Porcelain

porcelain - c.1530, from Medieval French. porcelaine, from Italian. porcellana "porcelain," lit. "cowrie shell," the chinaware so called from resemblance to the shiny surface of the shells. The shell's name in Italian is from porcella "young sow," fem. of L. porcellus "young pig," dim. of porculus "piglet," dim. of porcus "pig." The shells were socalled because the shape of the orifice reminded someone of the vaginas of pigs.

Shell Money

Many people throughout history have found, and still find, the very rounded, shiny, porcelain-like shells of cowries pleasing to look at and to handle. Indeed, the term "porcelain" derives from the old Italian term for the cowrie shell (porcellana) due to their similar translucent appearance   Shells of certain species,particularly the white-shelled forms,  have historically been used as currency in several parts of the world, as well as being used, in the past and present, very extensively in jewellry, and for other decorative and ceremonial purposes. The cowry was the shell most widely used worldwide as shell money. It is most abundant in the Indian Ocean, and was collected in the Maldive Islands, in Sri Lanka, along the Malabar coast, in Borneo and on other East Indian islands, and in various parts of the African coast. Cowry shell money was important at one time or another in the trade networks of Africa, and Asia, In China cowries were so important that many characters relating to money or trade contain the character for cowry: 貝. Starting over three thousand years ago, cowry shells, or copies of the shells, were used as Chinese currency.  The Classical Chinese character for "money/currency", ce貝, originated as a pictograph of a cowrie shell. Cowries were formerly used as means of exchange in India.. In Bengal for instance, where it required 3840 to make a rupee, the annual importation was valued at about 30,000 rupees.  In Orissa, India, currency was used till 1805 which was replaced by the British East India Company, which was one of the causes of Paik Rebellion in 1817.

Cabinet of Curiosities

It was long believed that Chinese civilization began in the Yellow River valley, but we now know that there were many earlier cultures both to the north and south of this area. From about 3800 to 2700 BC a group of Neolithic peoples known now as the Hongshan culture lived in the far north-east, in what is today Liaoning province and Inner Mongolia. The Hongshan were a sophisticated society that built impressive ceremonial sites. Jade was obviously highly valued by the Hongshan; artefacts made of jade were sometimes the only items placed in tombs along with the body of the deceased.

Voyages of Curiosity

The 13th Cent Fonthill Vase

In 1336 an embassy of Nestorian Christians from China left Dadu, the capital of the Yuan Dynasty in China, to deliver a letter from Shundi the last Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, to Pope Benedict XII, the third Avignon Pope. When the embassy was on his way to France, the travellers passed through Hungary and a yuhuchunping, or pear-shaped vase with a flared lip, was given to the Hungarian king, Louis the Great as a gift. Even though that the King showed delight at his gift in public, privately he was not that interested in something so traditionally oriental. However, keeping in mind how valuable the gift was, he ordered his craftsmen to mount a handle and a lid, turning the vase into an ewer. This ewer had several different owners among the European royals and aristocracy. It is now on display, minus the handle and lid, in the National Museum of Ireland and is known as the Fonthill Vase.

Shiny Curvy Things: A Jade Snake

Collecting beautiful, curvy, shiny objects by the Chinese began in prehistory with shells and jade.But the behaviour goes back to the beginnings of human evolution. It was long believed that Chinese civilization began in the Yellow River valley, but we now know that there were many earlier cultures both to the north and south of this area. From about 3800 to 2700 BC a group of Neolithic peoples known now as the Hongshan culture lived in the far north-east, in what is today Liaoning province and Inner Mongolia. The Hongshan were a sophisticated society that built impressive ceremonial sites. Jade was obviously highly valued by the Hongshan; artefacts made of jade were sometimes the only items placed in tombs along with the body of the deceased

International Trade Develops

Chinese porcelain was imported into England during fifteenth century but little came into Europe until after 1577 when the Portuguese East India Company founded a trading settlement at Macau near Canton on the Chinese mainland. The Dutch competed for this monopoly and in 1615 a single ship unloaded 70,000 pieces at Amsterdam. By the 1630s the British East India Company began importing Chinese porcelain on a grand scale.

Chinese porcelain was imported into England during fifteenth century but little came into Europe until after 1577 when the Portuguese East India Company founded a trading settlement at Macau near Canton on the Chinese mainland.  The Dutch competed for this monopoly and in 1615 a single ship unloaded 70,000 pieces at Amsterdam. By the 1630s the British East India Company began importing Chinese porcelain on a grand scale.

17th Cent Chinese Export

Porcelains were only a small part of the trade—the cargoes were full of tea, silks, paintings, lacquerware, metalwork, and ivory. The porcelains were often stored at the lowest level of the ships, both to provide ballast and because they were impervious to water, in contrast to the even more expensive tea stored above. The blue-and-white dishes that comprised such a significant proportion of the export porcelain trade became known as kraak porcelain, the term deriving from the Dutch name for caracca, the Portuguese merchant ship. Characteristic features of kraak dishes were decoration divided into panels on the wide border, and a central scene depicting a stylized landscape.

Craak Ware

The story of Capt. Mike Hatcher, the celebrated shipwreck salver, is a rare and interesting insight into social history on an international scale.  Hatcher was responsible for two of the biggest shipwreck finds of the 20th century, the cargoes of which have both attained high prices at auction and provided valuable scholarly data.

Emergence of the World Econmy

The period from 1260 to 1350 saw the emergence of a genuine "world-economy". The links of trade and exchange extended from the British Isles to China, Indonesia and Africa south of the Sahara. The Italian cities were at the center of this system and Italy was, with Flanders, the most highly developed part of Europe at this time. Venice, Florence, Milan and Naples, with populations of over 100,000, were the largest cities in Europe. This is why the testimony of Marco Polo in 1295, on the wealth and magnificence of China, was so significant as an indication of the primacy of the east in his time. The economic progress made by Western Europe as a whole during this period was effectively symbolized by the return to gold coinage after a lapse of centuries since the fall of the Roman empire.  In 1253 both Genoa and Florence introduced gold coins, followed by the Venetian ducat in 1284.

The Cambrian Pottery: Swansea.  Cabinet cup and saucer, glassy porcelain, painted with Convulvulus, attributed to William Billingsley.

Swansea Museum

In 1487, the sultan of Mamluk Egypt sent a gift to Lorenzo de’ Medici of exotic animals and “large vessels of porcelain, the like of which has never been seen.” By the mid 1500s, the Medici family’s porcelains, most from China, numbered in the hundreds. Italian potters were able to create a soft-paste imitation of porcelain, and in 1574 Francesco de’ Medici established two ceramic workshops in Florence to produce these wares. Today, some seventy examples of Medici porcelains are known, including this flask, possibly used for oil. The above flask is an example of Medici Pottery was made circa 1575/1587, or slightly later imitation porcelain (a version of soft-paste porcelain), Widener Collection, 1942.9.354

Medici porcelain was the first successful attempt in Europe to make imitations of Chinese porcelain. The experimental manufactory housed in the Casino of San Marco in Florence existed between 1575 and 1587 under the patronage of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.   When Francesco died, his younger brother Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici inherited the position of Grand Duke. Ferdinando brought his prized Chinese and Medici porcelains back with him to Florence from the Villa Medici in Rome, along with his paintings and treasured Roman antiquities. But with the ubiquity of European soft-paste and hard-paste porcelains in the eighteenth century, the Medici heirs in the House of Lorraine came to value less and less the imperfect Medici porcelains, with their minute firing cracks and bubbled glazes. In 1772 an auction in the Palazzo Vecchio of objects from storage dispersed the Medici porcelains conserved in Tuscany. The venture disappeared from history until interest revived after the mid-nineteenth century. The 1588 inventory drawn up after Francesco's death listed 310 pieces. Today only some sixty or seventy pieces are known to survive. The next successful European attempt to make soft-paste porcelain would come from the Rouen manufactory in France, in 1673.

Rouen Pottery: 1673-96

Early European Potteries: copy of interactive list taken from Rouen Pottery Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rouen_manufactory

1756: Sevre Pottery

Hard and Soft Porcelain

Hard- paste porcelain is characterized by its translucent and bright white colouring after firing. The porcelain has a higher resistance to water compared to its counterpart and is less likely to crack when the object comes in contact with hot liquids or substances. This is due to the higher firing temperature required; roughly around 1400 degrees C compared to soft porcelain which only required 1200 degrees C. Soft Porcelain required a lower firing temperature due to the chemical makeup of the materials. The body tends to lose its shape and almost melt when exposed to higher temperatures in the kiln. Soft paste porcelain is a finer and/or more delicate product as an end result, requiring a glaze to seal the finished product. However a benefit to the lower temperature allows the manufacturer or artists to have a greater pallet of colours to choose from for the decoration. Although both of these techniques yield a different end product they both maintain one key ingredient as their base, kaolin clay. Sometimes referred to as “China Clay” this mineral is the base of Chinese porcelain, and derives its name from the Chinese “Kao-ling” a village near Jingdezhen known as “the Porcelain Capital”.

Lowestoft: 1757 to 1802

Bow. 1747

Derby. circa 1750

Worcester. 1751

1813.  Arrival of William Billingsley at the Welsh village of  Nantgarw to set up his own pottery tp produce high quality porcelain,

His work is still regarded as some of the finest ceramics ever produced - a single piece can fetch tens of thousands of pounds at auction.

Mining China Clay

Archeological Ceramics: The art of manufacturing pottery was discovered about 12,000 years ago in the Old World and about 5,000 years ago in the New World. Pottery manufacture generally accompanied the transition to food production and increasing sedentism in the prehistory of most parts of the world. Pottery has been of enormous benefit to humanity in the form of the most common everyday objects—water carriers, food storage vessels, cooking vessels, and serving vessels. Precisely because of the intimate relationship among everyday activities such as food storage, preparation, and consumption, pottery has long been one of the primary types of artifacts collected by archaeologists. Ceramics are not limited to utilitarian wares, however, and include fine wares for ceremonial functions and trade as well as other types of objects such as figurines, jewelry, and even toys. One of the enduring benefits of clay as a raw material is its plasticity, allowing the artisan to shape and form it to myriad functional and imaginative requirements. In addition to formal and functional characteristics derived from the plasticity of the raw material, pottery often conveys additional information about its makers and users in the form of painted designs and illustrations. From simple geometric patterns to the elaborate illustrative decorations of Maya or Chinese ceramics, artisans added important stylistic and even political and mythological information to their pottery for millennia. To this day, few people fail to be stirred by the wonderful painted decorations of Classical Grecian urns or the marvelous zoomorphic creatures on Mimbres pots. From their first invention and on through the ages, ceramic objects served crucial functional, aesthetic, and informational purposes for peoples all around the world.

Beaker Cultures

North American Pottery

Anglo-Chinese Trade Agreements.  Anglo-Chinese trade agreements were the products of the era of early globalisation prompted by the desire of colonial powers to seek new markets for their manufactured goods as well as to conquer new colonies to obtain raw materials for industry. While a wave of British manufactured goods flooded Chinese shores, shiploads of objects from China (such as tea, silk, porcelains, ceramics, textiles, lacquers, furniture, wallpapers, silverware, prints and paintings) also flowed into Britain. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, Britain became the biggest importer of Chinese commodities in the West

Listening Ecologically to Objects

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