A visit to Jingdezhen with Bo Gyllensvärd, in 1992

Thursday afternoon 17 September 1992
Former province capital Foliang and the Red pagoda

In the afternoon we rented a small bus to take us to the old provincial capital Foliang and the Red Pagoda. From Jingdezhen historically having been part of Foliang, Foliang now belongs to Jingdezhen. The villages around Jingdezhen are becoming suburbs. The small gravel roads are getting a coat of tarmac. Everywhere are stacks of bricks that are to be made into modern houses. All of them as far as I can see are to be made in two stories along the main street. The bottom floor with and open facade to house a business or a workshop, the second, for living quarters.

On the road

Our driver filling up air. During the ride we had a small mishap with a flat tire that was rather quickly taken care of.

The trip went along the south bank of the river. A modern bridge was under construction but not yet complete so we would need to take the ferry to the other side of the river.

Water buffalo


When we stopped at the river I was surprised by the presence of on the most peaceful animals on earth, a water buffalo grazefully dining on some leaf near the river. They are surprisingly large when you meet them eye to eye instead of as a motif in porcelain decorations. One of the forefathers of this one had most certainly modeled for one or several decorations that I could think of.

The ground from the riverbank all the way up to the aisles in the lawn surrounding the pagoda are strewn with porcelain shards. The oldest seems to be from Song and are of the Jingbai type. Otherwise, a uniform distribution, perhaps a somewhat slanted to the period around late Ming. No traces of any kiln waste. This was probably a trade and transshipment location.

River dredger

Dredging the river seemed to be a continuous process, ongoing everywhere. The gravel taken up seemed to be processed into roads, embankments, cement or maybe something else. Regardless of what we only saw a large deposit of gravel down at Jingdezhen. This we saw just near the ferry we would take to reach the other side.

Foliang ferry

To cross the river we needed to go with the local ferry that charged a few fens for the the trip.

River crossing

Turning around the ferry.

It was unfortunately too small for the taxi so we walked up to the pagoda on the other side. That way it was not really possible for us to visit the proper village but this was interesting enough for this time.

Red pagoda

Red pagoda in the Foliang village

Red pagoda

Erik Engel on the road to The red pagoda in Foliang. The pagoda was built in 961 and is 49 meters high.
Photo © Jan-Erik Nilsson, Foliang, Jiangxi province, China, 17 September 1992

During tonight's dinner the Chinese told that there was never any ceramic production in Foliang, especially because there were no raw materials. The town's specialty was timber floating. The timber was used among other things as joists in the buildings of Jingdezhen.

This is my diary as it was written in Jingdezhen and Beijing the 4-24 September 1992,
after an invitation and journey to study the recent findings from the excavations of the Imperial Ming Kilns at Zhushan and other aspects of the ceramic history of China, in and around the city of Jingdezhen. My travel mates beside professor Bo Gyllensvärd were Jarl Vansvik and Erik Engel. My eternal gratitude goes to them, Dr Liu Xinyuan and all our friends at the Archaeological Institute of Jingdezhen. Text and photos on this web page are copyright as published © Jan-Erik Nilsson, Gotheborg.com, Sweden 2014.