Tea, Porcelain, and Silk: Chinese Exports to the West in the Early Modern Period (2024)

  • 1. Jan De Vries, “The Limits of Globalization in the Early Modern World,” Economic History Review 63, no. 3(2010): 710–733.

  • 2. Arjun Appadurai, ed., The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 3; and Frank Trentmann, Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-first (London: Allen Lane, 2016), 119–173.

  • 3. Qingzheng Wang, Rosemary E. Scott, Jennifer Chen, Serene Pleasure: The Jinglexuan Collection of Chinese Ceramics (Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2001), 13.

  • 4. Louis Dermigny, La Chine et I’Occident: Le commerce a Canton au xviii siècle, 1719–1833 (Paris: Sevpen, 1964), vol. 1, 11.

  • 5. Pedro Machado, Ocean of Trade: South Asian Merchants, Africa and the Indian Ocean, c. 1750–1850 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 150.

  • 6. Although some scholars would argue that the origin of tea is lost in history and legend, most historians, such as Robert Gardella, Tong Liu, Wang Ling, and John C. Evans, have asserted that tea originated in southwest China. See, for instance, Robert Gardella, Harvesting Mountains: Fujian and the China Tea Trade, 1757–1937 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 10–14; Tong Liu, Chinese Tea (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 2; Wang Ling, Chinese Tea Culture: The Origin of Tea Drinking (Subang Jaya, Malaysia: Pelanduk, 2001); and John C. Evans, Tea in China: The History of China’s National Drink (New York: Greenwood Press, 1992), 1.

  • 7. “Infographic: Tea in China,” published in US-China Today,USC US-China Institute.

  • 8. China has sixteen provinces and regions (including Taiwan) that produce tea. See also Kit Boey Chow and Ione Kramer, All the Tea in China (San Francisco: China Books and Periodicals, Inc., 1990), 79–80; and Yong-Su Zhen, ed., Tea: Bioactivity and Therapeutic Potential (London: Taylor & Francis, 2002), 8.

  • 9. Black tea in the West is known as red tea (hongcha) in China because of the reddish color of the brew.

  • 10. V. D. Wickizer, Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa: An Economic and Political Analysis (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1951), 204–207; and Alexander Nützenadel and Frank Trentmann, eds., Food and Globalization: Consumption, Markets, and Politics in the Modern World (Oxford: Berg, 2008), 38–39.

  • 11. Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas, eds., The Cambridge World History of Food (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 1189.

  • 12. James A. Benn, Tea in China: A Religious and Cultural History (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2015), 145–171.

  • 13. Zhengyuan Fu, Autocratic Tradition and Chinese Politics (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 95.

  • 14. Ling Wang, Tea and Chinese Culture (San Francisco: Long River Press, 2005), 170–171.

  • 15. William Ulkers, All About Tea (New York: The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal Company, 1935), 28; Patricia Buckley Ebrey and Anne Walthall, eds., Pre-Modern East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History, vol. 1 (Boston: Wandsworth, 2014), 268; and Martha Avery, The Tea Road: China and Russia Meet Across the Steppe (Beijing: China International Press, 2003), 150 (endnote no. 18).

  • 16. For details, see O. W. Wolters, Early Indonesian Commerce: A Study of the Origins of Srivijaya (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997).

  • 17. Christopher Cumo, Encyclopedia of Cultivated Plants: From Acacia to Zinnia (Santa Barbara, Denver, and Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 2013), vol. 1, 1045; Jim Harran and Susan Harran, Cups & Saucers: Identification and Values (Paducah, KY: Collector Books, 2004), 12; and Mark Galeotti, “Sino-Russian Border Resolution,” in Beijing’s Power and China’s Borders: Twenty Neighbors in Asia, eds. Bruce Elleman, Stephen Kotkin, and Clive Schofield (London and New York: Routledge, 2013), 253.

  • 18. Niall Ferguson, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order (London: Allen Lane, 2004), 11.

  • 19. William Lewis Sachse, ed., The Diurnal of Thomas Rugg, 1659–1661 (London: Offices of the Royal Historical Society, 1961); the original diary of Rugg is preserved in the British Library.

  • 20. See Maxine Berg, Luxury and Pleasure in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 47.

  • 21. Piya Chatterjee, A Time for Tea: Women, Labor, and Post/Colonial Politics on an Indian Plantation (Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 2001), 33; and Chi-ming Yang, Performing China: Virtue, Commerce, and Orientalism in Eighteenth-Century England, 1660–1760 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), 5.

  • 22. Cited from P. M. Guerty and Kevin Switaj, “Tea, Porcelain, and Sugar in the British Atlantic World,” OAH Magazine of History (April 2004), 56.

  • 23. Hoh-Cheung and Lorna H. Hui, “The Commutation Act and the Tea Trade in Britain, 1784–1793,” Economic History Review 16 (1963), 244–245.

  • 24. Leonard Blussé, Visible Cities: Canton, Nagasaki, and Batavia and the Coming of the Americans (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 55.

  • 25. Julie E. Fromer, A Necessary Luxury: Tea in Victorian England (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2008), 60.

  • 26. George Gabriel Sigmond, Tea: Its Effects, Medicinal and Moral (London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1839), 2–3.

  • 27. Jane T. Merritt, The Trouble with Tea: The Politics of Consumption in the Eighteenth-Century Global Economy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017), 54–55.

  • 28. Unknown author, “East Indiamen and Clipper Ships,” Bulletin of the Business Historical Society 2, no. 3 (May 1928): 3–9.

  • 29. See, for instance, Glenn A. Knoblock, The American Clipper Ship, 1845–1920: A Comprehensive History, with a Listing of Builders and Their Ships (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2014), 1–5. Andrew Shewan, captain of one of the tea clippers, also wrote down his personal experiences in The Great Days of Sail: Reminiscences of a Tea-clipper Captain (London and New York: Conway Publishing, reprinted in 1996).

  • 30. Jayeeta Sharma, “‘Lazy’ Natives. Coolie Labour, and the Assam Tea Industry,” Modern Asian Studies 43, no. 6 (November 2009): 1288.

  • 31. Syed Hussein Alatas, The Myth of the Lazy Native (London: Frank Cass, 1977).

  • 32. Carrie Gleason, The Biography of Tea (New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2007), 17; and Roland Wenzlhuemer, From Coffee to Tea Cultivation in Ceylon, 1880–1900: An Economic and Social History (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008), 75–91.

  • 33. Cited from Fromer, A Necessary Luxury, 54.

  • 34. K. C. Willson and M. N. Clifford, eds., Tea: Cultivation to Consumption (North Yorkshire, UK: Springer, 1992), 650.

  • 35. J. Dyer Ball, Things Chinese or Notes Connected with China (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Yokohama, Japan, and Singapore: Kelly & Walsh, Limited, 1903), 693.

  • 36. Wang Mingjie and Tang Yue, “Why Tea Is Chinese to a Tee,” The Telegraph (May 31, 2016), retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world/china-watch/business/chinese-tea-export-market/.

  • 37. Arif Dirlik, “Global South: Predicament and Promise,” The Global South 1, no. 1 (Winter 2007): 15.

  • 38. Janet Gleeson, The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story of the Invention of European Porcelain (Berkshire, UK: Bantam, 1998), 85–96.

  • 39. Nogami Takenori, “Hizen Porcelain Exported to Asia, Africa, and America,” in The East Asian Mediterranean: Maritime Crossroads of Culture, Commerce and Human Migration, ed. Angela Schottenhammer (Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2008), 203.

  • 40. “The dishes are made of a crumbly earth or clay, which is dug as though from a mine and stacked in huge mounds and then left for thirty or forty years exposed to wind, rain, and sun,” Polo wrote. “By this time the earth is so refined that dishes made of it are of an azure tint with a very brilliant sheen.” See Marco Polo, Ronald Latham (trans.), The Travels (London: Penguin, 1958), 238. See also Howard Davis, Chinoiserie: Polychrome Decoration on Staffordshire Porcelain, 1790–1850 (London: Rubicon Press, 1991), 11.

  • 41. See discussions in Frances Wood, Did Marco Polo Go to China? (Boulder: Westview Press, 1996); and Hans Ulrich Vogel, Marco Polo Was in China: New Evidence from Currencies, Salts, and Revenues (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013).

  • 42. Edwin Barber, “Chinese Porcelains,” in Bulletin of the Pennsylvania Museum 7, no. 28 (October 1909): 61.

  • 43. Cited in Maude Haywood, “Oriental Porcelain: China,” The Decorator and Furnisher 16, no. 3 (June 1890): 80.

  • 44. Edwin AtLee Barber, “Chinese Porcelains,” Bulletin of the Pennsylvania Museum 7, no. 28 (October, 1909): 62–63.

  • 45. Geoffrey Sayer (trans.), The Potteries of China (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1951), 49.

  • 46. Robert Finlay, The Pilgrim Art: Cultures of Porcelain in World History (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2010), 25.

  • 47. J. H. Lawrence-Archer, “Chinese Porcelain, Particularly That of the Ta Ming Dynasty,” The Art Journal: New Series 1 (1875): 251–254.

  • 48. Finlay, The Pilgrim Art, 62; and Shirley Ganse, Chinese Porcelain: An Export to the World (Hong Kong: Joint Publishing Co. Ltd., 2008), 84.

  • 49. Gillian Wilson, Mounted Oriental Porcelain in the J. Paul Getty Museum: Revised Edition (Los Angeles, Christopher Hudson, 1999), 3, 18 (endnote 23).

  • 50. Li Li, China’s Cultural Relics (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 64.

  • 51. For discussion on the blue-and-white kin, see John Carswell, Blue & White: Chinese Porcelain Around the World (London: British Museum Press, 2007).

  • 52. John Brown, China, Japan, Korea: Culture and Customs (North Charleston, SC: BookSurge, LLC, 2006), 115.

  • 53. Michael Dillon, “Transport and Marketing in the Development of the Jingdezhen Porcelain Industry During the Ming and Qing Dynasties,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 35, no. 3 (1992): 278–290.

  • 54. See Robert Finlay, The Pilgrim Art: Cultures of Porcelain in World History (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2010), 140.

  • 55. Sarah Richards, Eighteenth-Century Ceramics: Products for a Civilised Society (Manchester, UK, and New York: Manchester University Press, 1999), 58.

  • 56. Maxine Berg, “Luxury, the Luxury Trade, and the Roots of Industrial Growth: A Global Perspective,” in Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption, ed. Frank Trentmann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 182.

  • 57. Maude Haywood, “Oriental Porcelain: China,” The Decorator and Furnisher 16, no. 3 (June 1890): 81.

  • 58. William Chaffers, Marks and Monograms on Pottery and Porcelain (London: J. Davy & Sons, 1866), 476–477.

  • 59. Eugenia Zuroski Jenkins, A Taste for China: English Subjectivity and the Prehistory of Orientalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 31; and Christopher Corti and Richard Holliday, eds., Gold: Science and Applications (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2010), 322–323.

  • 60. Edmund de Waal, The White Road: A Pilgrimage of Sorts (London: Penguin, 2015), 5.

  • 61. C. J. A. Jörg, Porcelain and the Dutch China Trade (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1982), 93, 149.

  • 62. John Ayers, “Some Characteristic Wares of the Yuan Dynasty,” TOCS 29 (1954–1955): 69–83; and Feng Xianming, “Yongle and Xuande: Blue-and-White Porcelain in the Palace Museum,” Orientations 18 (1987): 56–71.

  • 63. Margaret Medley, The Chinese Potter (London: Phaidon Press, 1999), 180–182.

  • 64. Ting Chang even argued that through collecting Chinese porcelain, some intellectuals in Europe “elaborated [their] personal, familial, and national identities[, insofar as] fantasy, in psychoanalytic theory, is the accomplishment of a wish, the rectification of an unsatisfying reality.” See Ting Chang, “Goncourt’s China Cabinet: China Fantasy and a Nineteenth-Century French Collector,” in Collecting China: The World, China, and a History of Collecting, ed. Vimalin Rujivacharakul (Newark, NJ: University of Delaware Press, 2011), 31.

  • 65. Daniel Defoe, A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991), 65.

  • 66. David S. Howard, The Choice of the Private Trader: The Private Market in Chinese Export Porcelain illustrated from the Hodroff Collection (London: Zwemmer, 1994), p. 11.

  • 67. Howard, The Choice of the Private Trader.

  • 68. “Invoice from Robert Cary & Company, 23 April 1763,” Founders Online, National Archives. Cited in The Papers of George Washington: Colonial Series, eds. W. W. Abbot and Dorothy Twohig, vol. 7 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1990), 198–199.

  • 69. T. H. Breen, The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 52.

  • 70. “From George Washington to Robert Cary & Company,” Founders Online, National Archives. Cited in The Papers of George Washington: Colonial Series, eds. W. W. Abbot and Dorothy Twohig, vol. 9, 15–16.

  • 71. Clare Le Corbeiller, China Trade Porcelain: Patterns of Exchange (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1974), 117.

  • 72. Jean McClure Mudge, Chinese Export Porcelain for the American Trade, 1785–1835 (Plainsboro, NJ: Associated University Press, 1981), 43.

  • 73. Guenther Stein, Made in Japan (London and New York: Routledge, 2011), 9–11.

  • 74. Laura Imkamp, “The Future of China: Jingdezhen Struggles to Maintain Its Porcelain Fame,” CNN Travel (July 20, 2011), retrieved from http://travel.cnn.com/shanghai/shop/future-china-jingdezhen-struggles-keep-its-porcelain-fame-835545/.

  • 75. Edward Wong, “Ancient Porcelain Arts Thrive Again in a Chinese River Town,” The New York Times (January 31, 2017), retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/31/world/asia/china-ancient-porcelain-arts-jingdezhen.html?_r=0.

  • 76. Li Ruohan, “China’s Porcelain Capital Jingdezhen Establishes Art Zone for Young Artists,” Global Times (December 11, 2016), retrieved from http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1023058.shtml; see also the institute’s official website: http://www.jci.edu.cn/.

  • 77. Valerie Hansen, The Silk Road: A New History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 5.

  • 78. Shelagh Vainker, Chinese Silk: A Cultural History (London: British Museum Press, 2004), 1.

  • 79. Debin Ma, “The Great Silk Exchange: How the World Was Connected and Developed,” in Textiles in the Pacific, 1500–1900, ed. Debin Ma (New York: Routledge, 2005), 26.

  • 80. Mark Edward Lewis, The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), 143.

  • 81. Rajat. K. Datta and Mahesh Nanavaty, eds., Global Silk Industry: A Complete Source Book (New Delhi: APH Publishing Corporation, 2007), 20.

  • 82. Lillian M. Li, China’s Silk Trade: Traditional Industry in the Modern World, 1842–1937 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981), 1.

  • 83. Zhu Xi, Chu His’s Family Rituals: A Twelfth-Century Chinese Manual for the Performance of Cappings, Weddings, Funerals, and Ancestral Rites, trans. and ed. Patricia Buckley Ebrey (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), 33.

  • 84. See Lynda S. Bell, One Industry, Two Chinas: Silk Filatures and Peasant-Family Production in Wuxi County, 1865–1937 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999). To know more about the clothing culture in Yangzhou, particularly in the Qing period, see Antonia Finnane, “The Fashionable City? Glimpses of Clothing Culture in Qing Yangzhou,” in Lifestyle and Entertainment in Yangzhou, eds. Lucie B. Olivová and Vibeke Bordahl (Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2009), 62–74.

  • 85. Dennis O. Flynn and Arturio Giraldez have this to say about the city: “Manila was the crucial entrepôt linking substantial, direct, and continuous trade between the Americas and Asia for the first time in history.” See their “Born with a Silver Spoon: The Origins of World Trade in 1571,” Journal of World History 6 (1995), 201.

  • 86. Birgit M. Tremml, “The Global and the Local: Problematic Dynamics of the Triangular Trade in Early Modern Manila,” Journal of World History 23, no. 3 (September 2012): 555–586.

  • 87. William S. Atwell, “Notes on Silver, Foreign Trade, and the Late Ming Economy,” Ch’ing-shih wen-ti III 8 (December 1977): 1–33; see also his more recent paper, “Another Look at Silver Imports into China, ca. 1635–1644,” Journal of World History 16, no. 4 (December, 2005): 467–489.

  • 88. Robert Y. Eng, Economic Imperialism in China: Silk Production and Exports, 1861–1932 (Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 1986), 21.

  • 89. Merle Calvin Ricklefs, A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1300 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993), 29.

  • 90. Royal Entomological Society of London, Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London (London: Royal Entomological Society of London, 1836), 50.

  • 91. Chen Zhen and Shi Minxiong, Zhongguo jindai gongyeshi ziliao, vol. 4 (Beijing: Beijing sanlian shudian, 1957–1961), 117–118.

  • 92. Nishimura Takao, “Chugoku yu shutsu kinu no seisan kozo,” reprinted in Chugoku kankei ronsetsu shiryo 10, no. 3 (December, 1968): 626. For information on the Canton system, see Paul Van Dyke, The Canton Trade: Life and Enterprise on the China Coast, 1700–1845 (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2007).

  • 93. Li, China’s Silk Trade, 65–67.

  • 94. Li, China’s Silk Trade.

  • 95. See Imperial Maritime Customs, Decennial Reports on the Trade, Navigation, Industries, etc., of Ports Open to Foreign Commerce, and on the Condition and Development of the Treaty Port Provinces, 1922–31, vol. 1 (Shanghai: Imperial Maritime Customs, 1933), 91.

  • 96. Shih Min-hsiung, The Silk Industry in Ch’ing China (Ann Arbor, MI: Center for Chinese Studies, 1976), 17.

  • 97. Matsui Shichiro, The History of the Silk Industry in the United States (New York: Silk Publishing Co., 1927–1929), 30–31.

  • 98. The United States made numerous unsuccessful attempts during the 19th century to raise silkworms. This was not only because of the unsuitability of the soil and climate for the cultivation of mulberries and silkworms, but also because of the prohibitively high labor costs in a labor-scarce economy. See William Ferguson Leggett, The Story of Silk (New York: Lifetime Editions, 1949), 337.

  • 99. Eng, Economic Imperialism in China, 29.

  • 100. “The London and China Telegraph: 1874,” “February 17, 1874,” 131. “The London and China Telegraph” was a newspaper published between 1859 and 1904 in London. Most of them were digitalized by Hathi Trust Digital Library. See https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100160043.

  • 101. Woodruff D. Smith, “Complications of the Commonplace: Tea, Sugar, and Imperialism,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 23, no. 2 (Autumn 1992): 259–278.

  • 102. Peter Perdue, “Nature and Power: China and the Wider World,” Social Science History 37, no. 3, Special Issue: Global Environmental History (Fall 2013): 373–391.

  • 103. Maxine Berg, “In Pursuit of Luxury: Global History and British Consumer Goods in the Eighteenth Century,” Past and Present no. 182 (February 2004): 85–142.

  • 104. Anne Gerritsen and Stephen McDowall, “Material Culture and the Other: European Encounters with Chinese Porcelain, ca. 1650–1800,” Journal of World History 23, no. 1 (March 2012): 87–113.

  • 105. For governmental documents written in Chinese, the following are essential: Junjichu dang zouzhe lufu 軍機處檔奏摺錄副‎ (Archive of the Grand Council); Gongzhongdang zouzhe (宫中檔奏摺康熙朝‎, 雍正朝‎, 乾隆朝‎) (Archives in the imperial court: Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong eras); Ming Qing neige daku dang’an 明清內閣大庫檔案‎ (The archives of the Grand Secretariat); Qingchao dang’an shiliao huibian 清朝檔案史料彙編‎ (Selected archival materials in the Qing dynasty); Qingshi gao 清史稿‎ (The draft history of the Qing); Zhongguo Hanghai shi jichu wenxian huibian 中國航海史基礎文獻彙編‎ (Basic primary materials of Chinese maritime history), Zhongguo jindai duiwai maoyishi ziliao (Archives on Sino-foreign sea trade); and Haiguan yamen xuzhi shiyi ce 海關衙門須知事宜册‎ (Essential manual for customs officials). Some of the primary documents, such as “The Archives of the Grand Secretariat,” have been digitalized. As for governmental documents written in other languages, interested readers may look at G. L. Balk, F. van Dijk, and D. J. Kortland, eds., The Archives of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and the Local Institutions in Batavia (Jakarta) (Leiden: Brill, 2007); Algemeen Rijksarchief and Eerste Afdeling, eds., De archieven van de Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (1602–1795); and W. W. Abbot and Dorothy Twohig, eds., The Papers of George Washington: Colonial Series, and the archives preserved in the Public Record Office in Kew, London.

  • 106. Gazetteers (fuzhi/xianzhi) in the Kangxi-Yong-Qian period were published exhaustively, including, to name just a few, Yangzhou fuzhi (揚州府志‎), Changzhou fuzhi (常州府志‎), Taiwan fuzhi (臺灣府志‎), Guangzhou fuzhi (廣州府志‎), Ningbo fuzhi (寧波府志‎), Anhuifu xianzhi (安徽府縣志‎), Liuyang xianzhi (瀏陽縣志‎), and Jiangpu xianzhi (江浦縣志‎). Most of the gazetteers are collected in a large tome called Zhongguo defangzhi jicheng (中國地方志集成‎) [A collection of gazetteers in China] (Shanghai; Chengdu; Nanjing; Fenghuang chubanshe, Shanghai shudian, Bashu shushe, 1991–2004).

  • 107. Private writings written in Chinese, include Lan Dingyuan 藍鼎元‎’s Luzhou quanji 鹿洲全集‎ (Xiamen: Xiamen daxue chubanshe, 1995); Qu Dajun 屈大均‎’s Guangdong xinyu廣東新語 (Beijing: Chunghua shuju, 1985); Chen Lunjiong 陳倫炯‎’s Haiguo wenjianlu 海國聞見錄‎ (Zhengzhou: Henan jiaoyu chubanshe, 1995); Xie Qinggao 謝清高‎’s Hailu 海錄‎ (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1985); and Wang Dahai 王大海‎’s 海島逸志Haidao yizhi (Hong Kong: Xuejin shudian, 1992). See also the Qing Jingshi wenbian 清經世文編‎ (Collected essays about statecraft of the Qing). Private writings in other languages include Alexandre de Rhodes, Rhodes of Vietnam: The Travels and Mission of Father Alexander de Rhodes in China and Other Kingdoms of the Orient; William H. Ukers, All About Tea: The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal Company; and J. Dyer Ball, Things Chinese.

  • 108. James Deetz, In Small Things Forgotten: The Archaeology of Early North American Life (New York: Doubleday, 1977), 24–25.

Tea, Porcelain, and Silk: Chinese Exports to the West in the Early Modern Period (2024)


Why did the US want to trade with China? ›

The demand for Chinese products—tea, porcelain, silk, and nankeen (a coarse, strong cotton cloth)—continued after the Revolution. Having seen the British make great profits from the trade when the colonies were prevented from direct trade with China, Americans were eager to secure these profits for themselves.

How did porcelain spread to the rest of the world? ›

The Ming dynasty controlled much of the porcelain trade, which was expanded to Asia, Africa and Europe via the Silk Road. In 1517, Portuguese merchants began direct trade by sea with the Ming dynasty, and in 1598, Dutch merchants followed. Some porcelains were more highly valued than others in imperial China.

What is the main product of China? ›

The great bulk of China's exports consists of manufactured goods, of which electrical and electronic machinery and equipment and clothing, textiles, and footwear are by far the most important. Agricultural products, chemicals, and fuels are also significant exports.

What does China export to the US? ›

Exports The top exports of China are Broadcasting Equipment ($272B), Integrated Circuits ($212B), Computers ($181B), Office Machine Parts ($111B), and Semiconductor Devices ($70.2B), exporting mostly to United States ($551B), Hong Kong ($276B), Japan ($178B), Germany ($152B), and South Korea ($150B).

What did China trade on the Silk Road? ›

Merchants on the silk road transported goods and traded at bazaars or caravanserai along the way. They traded goods such as silk, spices, tea, ivory, cotton, wool, precious metals, and ideas.

Where did China export porcelain to? ›

Chinese export porcelain includes a wide range of Chinese porcelain that was made (almost) exclusively for export to Europe and later to North America between the 16th and the 20th century.

Why did the Europeans like Chinese porcelain so much? ›

Introduced to Europe in the fourteenth century, Chinese porcelains were regarded as objects of great rarity and luxury.

Where was porcelain traded to on the Silk Road? ›

Archaeological evidence from sites across South East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Arabian Peninsula and Iranian Plateau suggests large quantities of Chinese porcelain was imported to these regions, where it became a much sought after status symbol.

What are China's biggest exports? ›

China's Top Exports
Top Six Export Product Groups in 2022
Electrical machinery & equipment$954.8 billion
Machinery, including computers$552 billion
Vehicles$150.2 billion
Plastics$143.5 billion
2 more rows
Aug 30, 2023

Why was travel and trade along the Silk Road unsafe? ›

The Silk Road had not one western terminus, but many. The terrain of the Silk Road was difficult, the possible routes were numerous and complex, and the dangers of the journey were deadly serious.

Where did the Silk Road start and end? ›

Where did the Silk Road start and end? The Silk Road began in north-central China in Xi'an (in modern Shaanxi province). A caravan track stretched west along the Great Wall of China, across the Pamirs, through Afghanistan, and into the Levant and Anatolia. Its length was about 4,000 miles (more than 6,400 km).

Why did America want to trade with China in 1899? ›

The Open Door policy—first initiated in 1899, with a follow-up missive in 1900—was significant in its attempt by the United States to establish an international protocol of equal privileges for all countries trading with China and to support China's territorial and administrative integrity.

Why do we need to trade with China? ›

Why choose China for your business?
  • World's largest domestic market;
  • Leading global manufacturing capacity;
  • Multiple special economic zones and business incentives;
  • Developed infrastructure and supply chain;
  • Network of Free trade and tax agreements; and,
  • Market reform and improving business environment;

Why did the US want to improve relations with China? ›

The escalating war in Vietnam led U.S. officials to look for ways to improve relations with Communist governments in Asia in the hopes that such a policy might lessen future conflict, undermine alliances between Communist countries, diplomatically isolate North Vietnam, and increase U.S. leverage against the Soviet ...

What did the US trade with China in the 1800s? ›

Initially, American imports from China largely consisted of cloth (nankeen and silk) as well as tea. Tea became the dominant commodity, expanding from approximately 36% of the total imports from China in 1822 to 65% in 1860 (May 18).

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