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The trade of western clocks in Guangzhou

BY :Yuan

UPDATED :February 15, 2019

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清朝皇帝们爱江山爱美人,更爱它!The trade of western clocks in Guangzhou

In ancient China, many foreign goods were brought into China through the ancient Maritime Silk Road and had deep influence on the life styles of Chinese people. Chime clock is among such goods.

清朝皇帝们爱江山爱美人,更爱它!The trade of western clocks in Guangzhou

When was the chime clock introduced into China? And who was the first one to bring the chime clock into China? According to historical records, the western horologe was first introduced into China in the 16th century.

Back then Michele Ruggieri (1543-1607), an Italian missionary, came to Guangzhou with Portuguese merchants. He sent a chime clock as gift to Huang Yingjia, a Guangzhou official, and became the first person to introduce the western horologe into China.

Later, the western horologe became quite popular in China, and more and more chime clocks were imported into China through sea routes. Thus a new diplomacy—Horologe Diplomacy, was developed.

清朝皇帝们爱江山爱美人,更爱它!The trade of western clocks in Guangzhou

Guangzhou was the bridgehead of the horological diplomacy. It's recorded that thousands of clocks were sent to emperors as tribute in Qing dynasty.

清朝皇帝们爱江山爱美人,更爱它!The trade of western clocks in Guangzhou

The Qing emperors' enthusiasm for western clocks greatly stimulated the western clock trade. In the 18th century, China became one of the world's largest importers of timepieces, and elaborate timepieces were specially made for sale in China.

清朝皇帝们爱江山爱美人,更爱它!The trade of western clocks in Guangzhou

As the horologe trade bloomed in Guangzhou, the city developed into an important hub for making and trading western horologe. Local craftsmen made timepieces with Chinese characteristics and western techniques, making the Cantonese clocks a popular item at that time.

清朝皇帝们爱江山爱美人,更爱它!The trade of western clocks in Guangzhou

One of the most prominent features of the Cantonese clock is the colorful enamel on the surface, which is known as Cantonese enamel. Another feature is that it has very strong ethnic and local characteristics.

清朝皇帝们爱江山爱美人,更爱它!The trade of western clocks in Guangzhou

During the reign of Emperor Jiaqing of Qing dynasty, Cantonese clocks were sent to the court yearly as gift. Today in the Palace Museum in Beijing, hundreds of Cantonese clocks are well-preserved there. All of them are masterpieces which witness of the prosperous horologe trade in Guangzhou in Qing dynasty.

清朝皇帝们爱江山爱美人,更爱它!The trade of western clocks in Guangzhou

Source: WeChat(丝路云帆)

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