Chinese Porcelain: Trade, Transfer and Reception

Key information

Start date
End date
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of History of Art and Archaeology & School of Arts

Module overview


  • Students enrol via the online Module Sign-Up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Faculty Office.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

Identify and date Chinese porcelains from the 14th - 19th centuries, including export wares
Be familiar with the materials, techniques and design features of Chinese and related porcelains/ceramics
Recognize and interpret the impact of encounters with Chinese porcelain on other cultures and ceramic traditions
Understand the issues associated with the transfer, consumption and reception of luxury commodities from China


  • One hour lecture, one hour seminar

Scope and syllabus

The course will complement the existing offering in Chinese ceramics which focuses on domestic ceramics and will enable students to take a full unit in the subject area. It will also situate the subject and the material in a more global context, thus complementing the new directions in research and teaching being incorporated into the SOAS programmes.

  1. Introduction to the course and the porcelain of China
  2. History of production and technology of porcelain in China + sherd handling session
  3. The porcelain trade from China: history, economics and diplomacy
  4. Visit to BM/V&A ceramics collections (an introduction to the objects of trade)
  5. Regional perspectives 1 – Chinese porcelain in West and South Asia
  6. Reading Week
  7. Regional perspectives 2 – Chinese porcelain in East Asia
  8. Seminar – critical approaches to the study of export ceramics
  9. Regional perspectives 3  - Chinese porcelain in South East Asia
  10. Regional perspectives 4 – Chinese porcelain in Europe and the Americas
  11. Review + slide test

Method of assessment

  • One 1 000 words object report ( worth 40%)
  • One 2 000 words essay (worth 60%)

Suggested reading

  • Robert Finlay, The Pilgrim Art: Cultures of Porcelain in World History, 2010
  • Emerson, Gates and Chen, Porcelain Stories: From China to Europe, Seattle, 2001
  • Nicole Rousmaniere, Vessels of Influence: China and the Birth of Porcelain in Medieval and Early Modern Japan, 2012
  • Anne Gerritsen, ‘Fragments of a Global Past: Ceramics Manufacture in Song-Yuan-Ming Jingdezhen’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 52, 2009: 117-152.
  • 'Ceramics for Local and Global Markets: Jingdezhen’s Agora of Technologies’ in Dagmar Schafer and Francesca Bray, eds., Cultures of Knowledge: Technology in Chinese History. Leiden, E.J. Brill, 2011. pp. 164-86.
  • Rose Kerr, ed., Ceramic Technology, vol. 5, part 12 of Science and Civilisation in China, Cambridge, 2004
  • Stacey Pierson, From Object to Concept: Global Consumption and the Transformation of Ming Porcelain, HK, 2013
  • Stacey Pierson, ‘The Movement of Chinese Ceramics: Appropriation in Global History’, Journal of World History 23, no. 1, 2012, pp. 9-39.
  • Stacey Pierson, Chinese Ceramics: a Design History, V&A, 2009
  • Stacey Pierson, ed., Transfer: the influence of China on World Ceramics, PDF, 2009
  • Stacey Pierson, Earth, Fire and Water: Chinese Ceramic Technology, PDF, 1996
  • Jessica Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, BM Press, 2001
  • William Sargent, Treasures of Chinese Export Porcelain from the Peabody Essex Museum, Yale, 2012
  • Rose Kerr and Luisa Mengoni, Chinese Export Ceramics, V&A, 2011
  • Linda Carroll, ‘Could’ve Been a Contender: the Making and Breaking of “China” in the Ottoman Empire’, International Journal of Historical Archaeology 3 (3), 1999, pp. 177-90
  • Etsuko Miyata Rodriguez, ‘The Early Manila Galleon Trade: Merchants’ Networks and Markets in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Mexico’, in Peirce and Etsuko, eds., Asia and Spanish America: Trans-Pacific Artistic and Cultural Exchange, 1500-1850, Oklahoma, 2009.
  • Jessica Hallet, ‘The Abbasid Reception of Chinese Ceramics’, in Krahl, Raby, et al, eds., Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds, Freer/Sackler, 2011.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules