Refilling the Interregnum: Newly Discovered Imperial Porcelains from Zhengtong, Jingtai and Tianshun Reigns (1436-1464) of the Ming Dynasty
Exhibition Period: From 1 September 2018 to 16 December 2018
Venue: Gallery I, Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

The twenty-eight years following the Tumu Crisis, from 1436 to 1464, was among the most politically unstable periods of the Ming Dynasty. Scholars have attributed this chaos to the constant change in rule, from the Zhengtong reign to the Jingtai reign to the subsequent Tianshun reign. This political confusion marked almost every aspect of society, including that of imperial porcelain production. During this particular period, imperial porcelain wares did not bear the formal year mark, as they had during the earlier Xuande period. This lack of detail has created a significant obstacle in dating these objects and thus on conducting in-depth studies on them. Scholars have reflected this limitation of knowledge in the naming of this short period, known as the Interregnum. In 2014, the Jingdezhen Ceramics Archaeological Institute discovered an unprecedented number of imperial porcelains dating from the Zhengtong, Jingtai, and Tianshun reigns in the northern foot of Pearl Hill, Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province. The rich diversity and refined craftsmanship of the discovered pieces have greatly enriched our understanding of the Interregnum.


This exhibition is jointly presented by the Jingdezhen Imperial Ware Museum and the Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. As a continuation of the 2012 exhibition “Filling the Interregnum: Ming Mid-15th Century Ceramics from Jingdezhen,” this show features 158 selected items from the collection of the Jingdezhen Imperial Ware Museum, including not only the latest archaeological discoveries but also pieces from Yongle, Xuande, and Chenghua reign which serve as primary pieces for comparison. These objects have undergone careful and extensive conservation and many are exhibited outside mainland China for the first time. Meticulously carved and beautifully decorated, this body of works represents the finest porcelains the Jingdezhen kilns made during the Zhengtong, Jingtai and Tianshun reigns. It is from this selection of objects that scholars have uncovered the likelihood that artistic innovation and experimentation not only survived, but thrived during this period of political instability.