A visit to Jingdezhen with Bo Gyllensvärd
4-24 September 1992

An invitation and journey to study the recent findings from the excavations of the Imperial Ming Kilns
at Zhushan, and other aspects of the ceramic history of China in and around the city of Jingdezhen.
Text and photo © Jan-Erik Nilsson 1992

Saturday 19 September 1992
Last evening in Jingdezhen

In the evening after dinner, I took a long walk in the hot summer night. It was some comfortable 20 - 25 centigrade warm. Weak light bulbs lit here and there up private backyards, doorways and open houses just being built along the street. People worked, ate, played and spoke in quiet voices. There was no anger, no arguing and no yelling, no loud voices. It was a purposeful milling around and quiet anticipation. It was a friendly Klondike atmosphere I've never experienced before. Along the road there were TV and radio shops and lit up department stores filled with colorful clothes and plastic objects in loud colors. Everywhere food, kids, smoke and motion wrapped in a steady hum of expectations. I read it loud and clear, that this country would be going places and at home the East Indiaman Gotheborg project waited to be started. Chinese in its long term aspect, I felt that would be just the thing to do. In ten years we might have it ready to take off to a China that would be roaring forward at full speed at that time.

Last evening

I found an open Jingdezhen super market where I under the attention of a huge crowd unhesitatingly purchased a lousy nylon bag for 60 Yuan which zipper immediately broke. I walked on and at an open book stall I found the excellent Minyao-book we had all been looking for at 120 Yuan. Walked past the China market on the way home. The night concierge on my floor translated some sections in the new book for me.

Our conversation caught the attention of some young porcelain dealers that made big eyes over my book. A few hours later they showed up at my and Bo's room carrying two Yuan fakes copies that if genuine had been worth millions. They were quite open about that the pieces were new and said they did good business with antiques dealers in the US that bought them and sold them as genuine. They ensured me that the fakes were impossible to tell from the real, and that I could easily make a lot of money as so many others did. I politely shooed them away without disturbing Bo with whom I shared the room.

Some are certainly taken in by these businessmen's ideas and each "successful" transaction would then bring big profits. They appeared to live in the hotel on a permanent basis, maybe lacking modern houses in the city proper.

Settling the bill, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the hotel staff earns money on the side on all kinds of small things they can come up with, and can charge you for. Everything from charges for incoming and outgoing faxes, added fees on laundry and telephone calls, extra charges on postal stamps and deposit fees for the hotel room key etc. As long as things are within reason we did not feel it was much point in complaining.

On the way home

Bought sodas and canned orange juice for tomorrow's bus ride. Now I can only pray for the benevolence of the luggage God when it comes to undamaged bring everything I have bought back home undamaged.

Jarl Vansvik and Erik Engel will leave for home a few days earlier than I and Bo, who will stay a few extra days in Beijing.

Text and photos on this web page are copyright as published © Jan-Erik Nilsson, Gotheborg.com, Sweden 2014