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17th-century Porcelain Show Opens in London

An exhibition of 80 pieces of 17th- century Chinese porcelains from the Shanghai Museum and UK's Butler family was opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on Wednesday.

The exhibition, named "Dragons and Immortals," features a collection of bowls, incense burners, brush pots and other objects for the scholar's desk from the late Ming Dynasty (1488-1644), when the country witnessed a transition into the Qing Dynasty ( 1614-1911).

First of its kind in the UK, the exhibition illustrates the brilliant creativity of the potters and ceramic decorators of Jingdezhen, the main porcelain production center in southern China in the 17th century.

In 1607, a much-weakened Ming court abandoned direct control over the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen, allowing the best craftsmen to work for private kilns, serving customers other than the imperial palace.

Wealthy merchants and the landed gentry became important patrons while the Japanese bought Chinese porcelains for their traditional tea ceremony.

Dutch traders also purchased large quantities of porcelains and exported them all over Europe. When the Qing Dynasty was officially founded in 1644, Jingdezhen continued its innovation, creating many new shapes and decorative styles.

This exhibition, the continuation of a show inaugurated in the Shanghai Museum where it was proved to be a great success, will last until June.

(Xinhua News Agency April 27, 2006)

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