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27 Sep 2021

Special Exhibition on Chinese Trade Porcelains Takes You on a Journey across the Globe with Exotic Curiosities

27 Sep 2021

Exhibition poster of Enchanting Expeditions: Chinese Trade Porcelains across the Globe

The Art Museum of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) presents a golden jubilee special exhibition Enchanting Expeditions: Chinese Trade Porcelains across the Globe from 25 September 2021 to 2 January 2022. The exhibition is divided into six zones, showcasing more than 400 pieces (sets) of trade porcelains and related objects. With textual records and historical images, the exhibition aims to reconstruct the design, manufacture, transport, and sale processes of Chinese export porcelains, and the functions and influences of porcelains in overseas markets. It also invites visitors to travel back in time and see how Ming and Qing porcelains profoundly impacted the porcelain industry of the world.

At the height of the Age of Discovery in the 16th century, Europeans flocked to the Orient, surmounting geographic barriers and giving a fresh impetus to the Ming Empire’s active participation in the trend of globalisation. Among the exotic curiosities that became objects of desire, porcelains were especially sought-after for their pristine translucency and exquisite decorations, which made them suitable for use and display. This exhibition sheds light on the subtle relationships between form and function of porcelains, as well as the Chinese potters’ ingenuity in their efforts to satisfy the particular demands of their foreign customers.

The six exhibition zones, devised by the curator Dr. Guanyu Wang, showcase the material culture of the maritime trade and provide a useful reference for a wide-range of wares that were destined for different lands and designed for a multiplicity of purposes. The exhibition starts with the “Encountering Oriental Wonders” zone, telling the story of European explorers sailing to the Orient. Chinese trade porcelains produced in the most outstanding centres such as Jingdezhen in Jiangxi, Yixing in Jiangsu, as well as Zhangzhou and Dehua in Fujian are featured in the “Thriving Country of China” zone to show economic diversification and specification prior to the arrival of the Europeans in Ming China. The “Braving the Ocean Waves” zone displays porcelains from seven shipwrecks which were remained in the ocean for centuries until they were discovered and salvaged. Opening the “time-capsule”, the displays reveal the primary porcelain types traded to different overseas markets at different periods of history.

Apart from showcasing a variety of artefacts, the exhibition also introduces how Chinese porcelain had become a global commodity from the 17th century onwards. Since the Europeans were deeply fascinated with Chinese porcelains, export paintings made in Guangzhou started to illustrate the manufacture, transport, and sale of export porcelain. These export paintings are on show as well, reflecting multiple aspects of Chinese porcelains vividly. The “Profound Impact of Chinaware” zone reviews how Chinese ceramics had exerted critical and far-reaching influence on the rise of the porcelain industry in Europe.

The Art Museum, CUHK is going to launch diverse programmes and online resources about Chinese trade porcelains. Experts from the Netherlands, Britain, Japan and China will share their insights on export porcelains in a series of talks from this September to December. To arouse public interest in porcelains, the Art Museum will have a deep conversation with Yuet Tung China Works, the last hand-painted porcelain producer in Hong Kong, and produce a feature video, which will be released in November via the Art Museum’s website and social media platforms.

Online learning resources and activities:

Details of the exhibition

Enchanting Expeditions: Chinese Trade Porcelains across the Globe


25 September 2021 – 2 January 2022


Gallery III & IV, Art Museum, CUHK

Visiting details of the Art Museum

Open to the public. Free admission.

For the opening hours and other details, please visit the museum’s website:



The Art Museum, CUHK is now presenting another golden jubilee special exhibition – Artistic Confluence in Guangdong: Selected Painting and Calligraphy from Ming to Mid-Qing China (Phase II: Qing Dynasty), from 27 August to 28 November 2021. Showcasing more than 70 exhibits, it sheds light on the influential poets, painters, and calligraphers, as well as the culture of art collecting and gathering in Guangdong during the Qing dynasty. All members of the public are welcome.

More about the exhibition: 

About the Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Founded in 1971, the Art Museum, CUHK serves the University community and public in Hong Kong by collecting, preserving, researching and exhibiting a wide range of artifacts illuminating the rich arts, humanities, and cultural heritage of ancient and pre-modern China. The Art Museum promotes the excellence of both its permanent collections and loan collections of Chinese art, and their use for scholarly endeavours and outreach efforts. As a university teaching museum, it offers in-depth practice of museology and archaeology as well as the teaching of art history through direct and sustained access to original Chinese works of art in collaboration with the Department of Fine Arts. With the support of different faculties, it advocates interdisciplinary approaches to the social, cultural, technological, and historical context of Chinese art. Adhering to the purpose of the University, the Museum is committed to promoting Chinese culture and academic exchanges as well as contributing to society.

For posters and photos of the exhibitions, please scan the below QR code or download at:

Attachment: Exhibit highlights


Exhibition poster of <em>Enchanting Expeditions: Chinese Trade Porcelains across the Globe</em>

Exhibition poster of Enchanting Expeditions: Chinese Trade Porcelains across the Globe


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