1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/King-tê Chên

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King-tê Chên, a town near Fu-liang Hien, in the province of Kiang-si, China, and the principal seat of the porcelain manufacture in that empire. Being situated on the south bank of the river Chang, it was in ancient times known as Chang-nan Chên, or “town on the south of the river Chang.” It is unwalled, and straggles along the bank of the river. The streets are narrow, and crowded with a population which is reckoned at a million, the vast majority of whom find employment at the porcelain factories. Since the Ch'in dynasty (557–589) this has been the great trade of the place, which was then called by its earlier name. In the reign of King-tê (Chên-tsung) of the Sung dynasty, early in the 11th century A.D., a manufactory was founded there for making vases and objects of art for the use of the emperor. Hence its adoption of its present title. Since the time of the Ming dynasty a magistrate has been specially appointed to superintend the factories and to despatch at regulated intervals the imperial porcelain to Peking. The town is situated on a vast plain surrounded by mountains, and boasts of three thousand porcelain furnaces. These constantly burning fires are the causes of frequent conflagrations, and at night give the city the appearance of a place on fire. The people are as a rule orderly, though they have on several occasions shown a hostile bearing towards foreign visitors. This is probably to be accounted for by a desire to keep their art as far as possible a mystery, which appears less unreasonable when it is remembered that the two kinds of earth of which the porcelain is made are not found at King-tê Chên, but are brought from K'i-mun in the neighbouring province of Ngan-hui, and that there is therefore no reason why the trade should be necessarily maintained at that place. The two kinds of earth are known as pai-tun-tsze, which is a fine fusible quartz powder, and kao-lin, which is not fusible, and is said to give strength to the ware. Both materials are prepared in the shape of bricks at K'i-mun, and are brought down the Chang to the seat of the manufacture.