The Wares of the Ming Dynasty

By R. L. Hobson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
HUNG WU AND YUNG LO (1368-1424)

HUNG WU (1368-98)

The misrule of the decadent descendants of Kublai Khan provoked rebellion in many parts of China during the last years of the Yüan dynasty, and it only needed a competent and honest leader to concentrate the forces of discontent on the destruction of the Mongol rulers. The man was found in Chu Yüan-chang, a priest who turned soldier and soon rose to be the chief anti-Mongol leader. In 1355 he captured Nanking, and twelve years later he took the title of Emperor under the name of Hung Wu. This was on the eve of the capture of Peking and the flight of the debauched Yüan Emperor Shun Ti.

A great part of Hung Wu's reign, which is officially dated from 1368, was spent in completing the defeat of the Mongols who retired into Mongolia, in pacifying the outlying provinces and in consolidating his empire; and it was not till 1381 that Yunnan, the last recalcitrant region, was conquered from the Mongol prince Liang.

Under the Yüan dynasty it had been customary to open the Imperial porcelain manufactory at Ching-tê Chên whenever an edict was promulgated from the throne requiring supplies of porcelain. If no edict was issued the factory remained closed, and it would appear that it had been closed for some time before 1368.

According to the T'ao lu,1 an Imperial factory was built in 1369 at the foot of the Jewel Hill to supply the requirements of the Emperor, while at the same time no less than twenty kilns in various parts of the town were occupied with Imperial orders. This would seem to point to an outburst of activity at Ching-tê Chên; and this was only natural, for the old ceramic centres of the Sung dynasty, such as Ting Chou, Ju Chou and Chün Chou, had sunk into secondary importance; and white translucent porcelain being the order of the day, the industry tended more and more to concentrate in Ching-tê Chên, where this kind of ware was best and most conveniently made. Moreover, Nanking was now the

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1
By another method of reckoning the date has been fixed by other authorities as 1398, but the earlier date is probably correct.

-35-

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