From Object to Concept

Global Consumption and the Transformation of Ming Porcelain


Stacey Pierson

ISBN : 978-988-8139-83-5

Film, Media, Fine Arts

January 2013

228 pages, 7″ x 10″, 41 color illus.

  • HK$295.00

Ming porcelain is among the world’s finest cultural treasures. From ordinary household items to refined vessels for imperial use, porcelain became a dynamic force in domestic consumption in China and a valuable commodity in the export trade. In the modern era, it has reached unprecedented heights in art auctions and other avenues of global commerce.

This book examines the impact of consumption on porcelain of the Ming period and its transformation into a foreign cultural icon. The book begins with an examination of ways in which porcelain was appreciated in Ming China, followed by a discussion of encounters with Ming porcelain in several global regions including Europe and the Americas. The book also looks at the invention of the phrase and concept of ‘the Ming vase’ in English-speaking cultures, and concludes with a history of the transformation of Ming porcelain into works of art.

Stacey Pierson is a senior lecturer in the History of Chinese Ceramics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

“The book has an impressive historical scope, from the 14th to the 21st century. Secondly, it ranges over a variety of interesting topics relevant to the history of a famous commodity—in addition to discussing the economic production, social use, and reception of Ming porcelain throughout the world, it has a novel and often amusing account on the treatment of Ming porcelain in modern popular UK and US culture. It presents an extensive coverage of recent English-language work on Chinese porcelain, and attempts to put the study of Ming, and by extension Chinese, porcelain in a wider conceptual framework, that of transcultural shifts in the use and meaning of art objects.” —Joseph P. McDermott, University of Cambridge