Wednesday, November 1, 1995

The Origin of the Name "China"

Many of us probably know that the first fine porcelain the West ever saw was from China. Thanks to the silk road, the West came to associate China as the source for china so that it was no coincidence that the country and the porcelain had the same name. But why "china?"

It seems that in the ancient days, the most famous kilns in all of China was located in a town called Changnan,--which means to flourish in the south. By the time the fine bowls and cups reached the west, Changnan had been Anglecized to "china," and the name stuck, so to speak.

Then about 900 years ago, a Song dynasty emperor decreed that the Changnan kilns shall henceforth produce for imperial use and the bottom of each piece shall bear the name of the year of his reign when this decree was proclaimed. Since the year was Jinde, the town quickly became known as Jindezhen (the town of Jinde) and that was how the origin of China, the name, was lost. Of course, Jindezhen is still famous for their china to this day.

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