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The Netherlands - culture: How China Conquered the Dutch - by NINA SIEGAL

In 1558, a single Portuguese trading ship returning from Asia carried 1,000 pieces of Chinese porcelain. A Dutch ship making the same journey 50 years later brought 60,000 pieces. And by 1638, about 900,000 pieces of Chinese porcelain were transported via Dutch trading vessels.

In the span of one century, the fine, thin, white ceramics made from a clay called kaolin and fired in blazing hot kilns went from being a unique treasure for a handful of wealthy European connoisseurs to a common household item, especially in the Netherlands.

Today, this porcelain is known in everyday English usage as china, and as early as the 17th century it was already being copied throughout Europe.

How did china and other Asian commodities, such as Japanese lacquer chests, Ceylonese ivory cabinets and Indian silks, first come to the Western world, and what impact did the European appreciation for them have on the kinds of products that were produced? These are the questions raised in “Asia in Amsterdam,” an exhibition that opened at the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum on Oct. 17 and runs until Jan. 17, when it will move to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass.

 Read more: How China Conquered the Dutch - The New York Times

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