In May 2017 Professor Peter Lam delivered the prestigious Sir Michael Butler Memorial Lecture in London at the Oriental Ceramic Society on the so-called Zhonghe Tang or Hall of Central Harmony porcelains. In this lecture he will revisit this subject to share important findings in light of recent scholarship done in China and, most importantly, new information available from a large and important group of Zhonghe Tang shards recently found in downtown Jingdezhen and Fouliang magistrate site.
In 1662 Kangxi emperor ascended to the throne. But it was not until the 10th year of his reign (1671) that the first recorded imperial firing of porcelain items was commissioned and conducted. Three years later warfare from the revolt of the Three Feudatories spread in the southern part of China. The Imperial Factory, kilns and workshops in Jingdezhen were sacked. A very characteristic group of plates, dishes and bowls with base-marks containing a hall mark and a cyclical year corresponding to 1671, 1672 or 1673 representing the quality and standard of the ceramic output in this short three year interval. It has not been possible to identify the exact location of the Zhonghe Tang in the Forbidden City, nor in the old summer gardens during the Kangxi reign period. In light of this, Professor Lam will consider the views of some scholars that this group of dated works were not in fact commissioned by the Court in Beijing in light of new archaeological discoveries.
Professor Peter Y. K. Lam is Honorary Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Before his retirement in 2013 he had been with the Art Museum of the University for four decades and in the last fourteen years its Director/Professor.