In November 2010, a Chinese vase unearthed in a suburban semi in Pinner sold at auction for £43 million - a new record for a Chinese work of art. Why are Chinese vases so famous and so expensive? The answer lies in the European obsession with Chinese porcelain that began in the 16th century.
In this documentary Lars Tharp, the Antiques Roadshow expert and Chinese ceramics specialist, sets out to explore why Chinese porcelain was so valuable then - and still is now. He goes on a journey to parts of China closed to Western eyes until relatively recently. Lars travels to the mountainside from which virtually every single Chinese export vase, plate and cup began life in the 18th century - a mountain known as Mount Gaolin, from whose name we get the word kaolin, or china clay. He sees how the china clay was fused with another substance, mica, that would turn it into porcelain.
Treasures of Chinese Porcelain - Part 1
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