»Hier gibt es keine Elefanten nur Porzellan.«

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Golden Nose

who is showing off one's golden nose

Since Marco Polo, China and Europe have been trading with each other. The trade, however, only grew to an enormous extent when the large ships of the Dutch began to travel frequently between China and Europe. Beside silk, lacquerware and spices, the Europeans were particularly interested in the ”White Gold", the Chinese porcelain. For a long time porcelain production was considered a great secret to the Europeans. The compound was unknown and so Europeans believed it to be a kind of white gold. Many years Alchemists throughout Europe tried, without success, to decipher the recipe. The fascinating “White Gold" was accordingly in great demand at European royal and princely courts and a highly lucrative business for the merchant ships travelling between China and Europe.

The Chinese model makers, potters and porcelain workshops fulfilled the curious wishes of their distant customers. In accordance with some of these wishes, beer jugs and cups with handles were made in Jingdezhen in the 17th century. 

Until then, cups with handles were unknown in China. While providing for the wishes of the foreign customers, the rather rugged traders were eyed suspiciously. To this day the contemptuously meant term for Europeans, which originated then, is ”long nose“, 長鼻子. Well, the traders then sure earned a ‘long’ golden nose: the porcelain - having arrived in Europe without breaking – achieved enormous prices. Only when the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger succeeded in inventing porcelain in 1708 in Meissen / Germany did the prices for the material enormously decline.

The “Golden Nose" was made in Jingdezhen, the birthplace of porcelain in China, and also came with the ship to Europe, as the commercial goods of old. You won’t make a fortune with it necessarily, but you can at least show off your golden nose and thumb your nose at others.

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