You are here

Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 19:30

Chinese Porcelain at the Topkapi Museum

Fei Boliang

German Embassy

In 1453, Mehmed II (1432-81) ordered the construction of the Topkapi Palace, which, for the following 380 years, remained the residence of Ottoman sultans and the centre of the empire. In 1924, the second year after the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, the Topkapi Palace became a museum, hosting one of the world's most abundant imperial treasures. The Topkapi Saray Museum's collection of Chinese Ceramics is one of the largest and most important in the world. The Chinese porcelain in the palace can be divided into four groups according to the Chinese dynasties: Song Dynasty (960-1279); Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368); Ming Dynasty (1368-1644); Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) porcelain, and into four groups according to the technique as: Celadon; Blue and white; Monochrome; and Polychrome.

The palace contains a total of 10.700 Chinese pieces. Almost all of these were made during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties at the southern kilns of Longquan and Jingdezhen. They represent some of the finest examples of ancient Chinese ceramics produced for export. The production during the Song Dynasty was unsurpassed in quality, quantity and variety. Due to its number, range of styles and designs, the Chinese porcelain collection in the palace is one of the best in the world. The oldest Chinese porcelain found in the palace was made in the 10th century. Records indicate that Yavuz Sultan Selim, after seeing the high quality of these porcelain pieces during his campaign to Egypt and Iran, took them to the Topkapi Palace and most of the succeeding sultans continued to import them.

Mr. Fei Boliang, a graduate of the Catholic University of Beijing, is a well-known Chinese ceramic and furniture collector. He continued and developed his family's collection, which was started by his grandfather, before donating the entire collection to the Forbidden City Museum in the 1970s. He was a member of the Chinese Ceramics Experts Delegation that went to Turkey in 2001 to study the Chinese Blue and White Porcelain collection at the Topkapi Museum.