February 14, 2024
Kai Jun Chen
Brown University
Technocracy and Porcelain Manufacture at  the Early to Mid-Qing Court (1720s–1750s)
4 30 pm
202 Jones Hall
Organized by the East Asian Studies Program
Cosponsored by the Tang Center for East Asian Art



In this talk, Kai Jun Chen, will examine the imperial control of technological expertise in the Qing dynasty. Through a detailed study of porcelain manufacture during the mid-eighteenth century, the project rethinks early modern industrial planning in China in dialog with the studies of expert culture in the early modern world. By examining the innovation and hindrance in ceramic production in the realpolitik of the Manchu court, he scrutinizes the crucial roles that multiethnic technocrats played in codifying technological knowledge and in creating distinctive artistic forms that were essential to the cultural policies of the Qing court. Tang Ying (1682–1756), the polymath supervisor of the imperial porcelain manufacture will be our local guide to the porcelain industry, and introduce the community of technocrats, who served as the emperors’ private attendants, acted as hands-on mediators at the center of Eurasian cultural exchange. The project also analyzes the court’s ceramic styles that emulate European wares and imitate ancient ritual wares, as well as the propagandistic rhetoric in ceramic treatises. The ceramic industry centered at the court showcases a technocratic culture that championed empiricism, material experimentalism, and conservative loyalism in art and knowledge production.