The Export of Canton Enamel to the Middle East and India
Speaker: Prof. Xu Xiaodong (Associate Director of Art Museum, Programme Director of RPCAA, CUHK)
Since the end of the 17th century, with the prosperous maritime trade in Asia, Armenians, Parsees, Muslims, Indians, and Jews had come to Guangzhou and used their trading network with Europe and Asia to conduct the Country Trade. Among these, the trade with Guangzhou through India and Batavia is of paramount importance. One of the commodities in the trade is the Canton enamel specially made for India or the Middle East market. It was found that most of the surviving Canton enamels are made of locally popular metalware or glassware, such as handled ewers, rose watering cans, and areca nut boxes; some of the designs are based on the shape of European silverware, such as large plates, but more often with traditional Chinese pattern decorations. This can reflect the users’ concerns on the practical functions and the compatibility of various cultural factors. The exotic decorations can also demonstrate the connection between the users and distant regions. Except for the enamels with inscriptions indicating that they are customized for someone, the rest might be some general products provided by Guangzhou for the Middle East and Indian markets.
Chinese imagination? The Western Characters on the Canton Enamel in the Qing Dynasty — Discussing the Painted Enamel of the Qing Palace
Speaker: Dr. Chow Ying-ching, Joyce (Postdoctoral Fellow of Art Museum, CUHK)
The images of Western characters on the Canton enamel, regardless of the theme and character style, are more diverse and more creative than those of the same type in the Qing palace. Since the Qianlong period, images of Western characters started to appear on the painted enamel, which should be in response to the needs of the Emperor Qianlong. The characters on the enamel have their own style and the theme is limited to a few patterns that can echo Chinese images. The images of Canton enamel are more diverse in response to market needs. It is speculated that Canton craftsmen created Western character with a strong Chinese style after absorbing the characteristics of the Westerners at that time. Similar to the "Chinese style" characters created by the Europeans in the same period based on their cognition, this kind of Western image created by the craftsmen can be described as Chinese "Western style".