Sunday 16 Mar 2014
Tuesday 11 October, 9-10pm, BBC Four
Why are Chinese vases so famous and so expensive? The answer lies in the European obsession with Chinese porcelain, which began in the 16th century and by the 18th century became a full-blown craze that swept up kings, princes and the emerging middle classes.
Lars Tharp, expert on Antiques Roadshow and Chinese ceramics specialist, sets out to explore why Chinese porcelain was so valuable then and why it still is today. He goes on a journey to parts of China closed to Western eyes until relatively recently. Lars travels to the mountainside from which virtually every single Chinese export vase, plate and cup began life in the 18th century. He uncovers the secrets of China's porcelain capital, Jingdezhen, before embarking on the arduous 400-mile journey to the coast that every piece of export porcelain would once have travelled.
Lars discovers how the trade between China and Europe not only changed ideas of what was beautiful, but helped to create the trade between East and West.