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Charming china

Jingdezhen's porcelain, on sale now, is the `pearl in the treasure house of Chinese art'

Photos: P.V. Sivakumar

IN APRIL 1917, the German kaiser reached an agreement with Prussia to offer 600 imperial soldiers in exchange for 127 pieces of Chinese porcelain. The exchange is a bizarre story in world history and the pieces are still on display at the Dresden Museum in Germany.

White, translucent and brilliant in light, porcelain has for centuries been valued as one of earth's rare gifts. From rock to dust to cool mud, then into the hands of inspired makers, porcelain's critical ingredients, kaolin and petunse, still offer their mysteries to the fire. The fire transforms these dreams into statements of poetic feeling - vases, bowls and teapots with images of gods and dragons, people, flowers, rivers, mountains and clouds.

For the first time in Hyderabad, the Jingdezhen Detazoi Ceramic Limited (JDC) is holding an exhibition-cum-sale of artistic and exquisite porcelain from Jingdezhen, porcelain capital of the world. Craftsmen over time developed a wide range of innovative techniques for making and decorating ceramics. Only in the past decade has the West gained access to this cradle of ceramics. Hu Song, spokesperson for the company who also works on the medium says, "We are here to promote authentic china. Factory made porcelain does not display the beauty and creativity of the artisan. The cost of these pieces is based on the period of work and the texture. We are not here for the money. It is to reintroduce Chinese porcelain as a status symbol."

Hundreds of show pieces and feng shui ornaments aimed at art lovers, buyers and dealers are precariously perched on shelves at the lobby of Prasad's Imax. The exhibition which is on between 10.30 a.m. and 10.30 p.m. concludes on March 12. A member of World Auction, JDC which is on par with Sotheby's and Christie's, has an exclusive display of Qing porcelain which will go under the hammer once the exhibition closes.

For the rest of the hoi polloi who would still love to own a part of heritage there are items for sale with prices starting at Rs. 50 for a pair of chopsticks. The range and the hand crafted fluidity of the dinner sets, vases, fans, dragons, lions and horses is breath taking. Decorated miniature sampans, blue dishes with dragon motifs, blue and yellow glazed dishes, cloisonné ewers, delicately painted porcelain wall plates, figurines of ocean going junks, mandarins, warriors and Boddhisattavas inspired by the philosophies of the `three ways'. Paintings offer a tranquil view of water, mountains and a blend of heaven and earth. Jade pots covered with dragons, perfected blue and white `Ming' pottery in which the pigment has been applied before the glaze, tea bowls with lacquer bowl stands, Snoopies, piggybanks and even a vase with a stern-faced Mao on it.

Coveted by museums and collectors for their fine craftsmanship and delicate painting these rare pieces represent the triumph of the Jingdezhen ceramic master. The ancient institution of porcelain reveals itself anew in each model in this unique collection.

And although the crowds throng the lobby like bulls in a china shop, there is enough for all those who fancy China's china.


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