Why wasnt Chinese porcelain/pottery not a popluar as silks as exports on the silk road?

Dec 2012
446
So we always hear about how silk was prized all over the ancient Eurasian world, but how come porcelain never seems to get a mention until the early middle ages as a valued import,? and that seems to be only in Arab regions.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,251
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Wait, it was in the Song period [X - XIII century CE] that good porcelain appeared in China and in that historical moment the first production sites started their activity and Europeans noted that porcelain. Marco Polo as well ... There was some import, but porcelain was extremely expensive [and fragile to transport by land]. It was called "white gold".

I knew a bit the history of this material since I've got a bit of passion for antiques, in particular porcelain objects.

To make it brief in China it was under Ming dynasty that they reached the most excellent quality about porcelain. The European expansion through the Indian Ocean made it well more easy [and cheap] to import porcelain by sea [Dutch Companies begun to do this in XVI century CE] and in Europe alchemists begun to try and reproduce the material, with scarce results. You need to wait for Meissen [at the beginning of XVIII century CE] to see the success of an European producer.
 
Dec 2012
446
Well porcelain was produced long before the song I don't think it was only transportation thay would have limited it's popularity
 
May 2009
1,337
Porcelain is very old but it didnt become really big until tea drinking first became popular in the Tang dynasty. By the Sung era there were five major porcelain producers and it was being mass-produced and shipped all over the world. So it was probably just a matter of quantity and availability.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,511
Netherlands
Ever tried transporting porcelain by land in sufficient quantities? Even by sea it requires some extra care.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,249
Sydney
weight or more precisely value per load
land transport is horrendously expensive
 
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