Organized Panel Session
By the 9th century, China was exporting ceramics to the rest of Asia; eventually, it supplied Europe and the Americas. By the early 15th century, however, export ware also came from other places in Asia, especially Vietnam and Siam, representing many artistic traditions and involving a wide array of producers, merchants and customers. Research on this subject has so far focused on the ceramics and their destinations and not on the socioeconomic history of their manufacture and trade. This paper helps to redress that omission by examining the export ceramics industry on the southern China coast, focusing on Zhangzhou in Fujian and the adjacent region of Chaozhou across the border in Guangdong. For a relatively brief period (late 16th- late 17th centuries), these places rivaled the famed porcelain center of Jingdezhen in the amount of export ware they produced and commanded the resources for producing cheap, low-quality ceramics, and somewhat better pieces with distinctive design characteristics. These industries were supported by well-organized manufacturing infrastructures and close connections between the producers and merchants who also invested in the kilns and pottery workshops. Yet, by the end of the seventeenth century, the export ceramics industry in Zhangzhou had practically vanished and that in Chaozhou had also steeply declined. Exploring the history of export ceramics centers in south China and the competition they faced from abroad can help us to understand factors in the rise and decline of export ceramics centers throughout of China over the centuries.