Across China: "Ragpicker" strives to keep soul of China's porcelain capital

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-24 23:21:19|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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NANCHANG, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Luo Guoxin has been wearing thick eyeglasses since primary school, yet he is one of the best china connoisseurs in Jingdezhen.

Luo, 49, is the son of a porcelain-making couple and he can easily tell the type and age of china from mere ceramic chips.

Luo calls himself a "scavenger" and regards shards of ceramics buried underneath construction sites as great treasure. He is a regular at a local antique market where he found fragments of a rare Qinghua jar on Monday.

Luo has collected some 50 tonnes of broken ceramics in the past 10 years. Tsinghua University sent students to catalog his collection and published a book in May 2017.

To store the chips and restore them to their original splendor, he set up a workshop with his brother. Whenever he finds a piece of broken china at the market, he opens his iPad and searches for a match.

"The fragments are just like brothers, separated from each other for years," said Luo. "I want them to be reunited."

Collecting ceramics costs a lot. Luo still is 6 million yuan (950,500 U.S. dollars) in debt, yet he is not willing to sell.

Luo wants to build a bigger museum that is open 24 hours a day. The municipal government has agreed to provide him 2,000 square meter space in Sanbao Village, home to a concentration of ceramic artists and studios.

"I will not sell them, neither will I pass them on to my daughter," said Luo, who intends to keep his collection in China's "porcelain capital" with 1,700 years of ceramic making history.

Luo made his fortune in porcelain. He learned to make ceramics from his father at the age of 15 and married the daughter of a porcelain workshop owner.

He began looking for foreign buyers as early as 1986 and opened a shop at the Shenzhen International Trade Center in 1992.

He opened a shop in Malaysia in the late 1990s and, in 2005, he opened an auction house in Beijing. In 2008, when his business was booming, he chose to return to Jingdezhen.

"I just want to do something more meaningful," he said.

It took him about three months to reconstruct a Qinghua jar, which has loaned to Jingdezhen Ceramic Museum for exhibition, with only one requirement.

"Don't put it in a glass case, let everyone touch it," he said.