For hundreds of years, traders have endured hostile deserts, perilous mountains and treacherous seas in an attempt to bring precious Chinese wares to the rest of Asia, Europe and the Americas. Now, discover over 100 of these exquisite artifacts including porcelain, textiles, silverware and much more – items that captured the attention of people around the world.
This intimate exhibition explores the history of the lucrative Chinese export market from the 8th to the 20th centuries. Teas, silks, spices, furniture and more were transported to the rest of the world via the Silk Road, across the ice-capped mountain passages of Central Asia. Eventually, the discovery of a sea route from Europe to China 1498 led to thriving maritime trade and signalled the height of this extremely profitable era.
In the early years, traders exported Chinese merchandise that was produced for domestic use. As demand increased, Chinese craftsmen began to modify their products for international tastes. Foreign merchants were eager to procure these profitable goods from this exotic and mysterious land. Over time, however, the novelty began to wear off and foreign craftsmen learned to replicate Chinese artistry in their own products. Interest in Chinese products declined.
The resurgence of modern-day China as a global trading partner provides a fitting bookend to this fascinating history.