University of Illinois at Chicago
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Firing for the World

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-08-06, 00:00 authored by Wenpeng Xu
This image depicts the debris of a 12th-century dragon kiln at Dehua in Southeast China. Thousands of porcelain shards and broken saggars on the site reveal an industrial scale of porcelain production in the preindustrial era. Located in the coastal mountain region, this kiln was also indispensable to the premodern global market since its products were made exclusively for export. In the summer of 2017, I conducted an archaeological survey at Dehua and found dozens of export-oriented kilns of this scale in an area of 100 square miles. By analyzing the homogeneity and heterogeneity of porcelain products within and between kilns, I am going to examine the production strategies used by local manufacturers to compete in the premodern global market. This research will expand the understanding of the historical development of mass production and globalization.


This exhibit competition is organized by the University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate College and the University Library.


Publisher Statement

Anthropology; Honorable Mention; Copyright 2018, Wenpeng Xu. Used with permission. For more information, contact the Graduate College at


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