Negotiating Appropriation

Later Safavid Adaptations of Chinese Blue-and-white Porcelain

  • Amelia Macioszek (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


The beginnings of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain in Safavid Persia are naturally connected with trade between China and Persia, which took place during the Yongle reign (1402–1424), when Sino-Persian exchange entered a new era. It is worth remembering here that between 1406–1433 China launched seven major maritime expeditions that reached as far as the Indian Ocean, Ceylon, eastern coast of Africa, Persian Gulf, and Persia. Interestingly, all of these brave voyages were conducted by a Muslim admiral named Zheng He (1371–1433).1) It is due to these courageous actions that the Chinese gained sophisticated geographical knowledge and established important trade connections. It is worth noticing here that the vast crew taking part in these trips also included merchants. In 1433 the expeditions were stopped all of a sudden most probably because of the fact that China’s economy was not yet sufficiently developed to continue foreign trade expansion, which was a rather marginal activity for the overall economic situation of the country. As later history proved, this thoughtlessly and rather short-sightedly made decision turned out to be unfavourable for China, when trade was successfully conducted by the Europeans. [...]