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The Cover
November 22/29, 2006

Partridge Tureen

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2006;296(20):2417. doi:10.1001/jama.296.20.2417

One of the major technological achievements of 18th-century Europe in the field of the decorative arts was the unlocking of the secret for making fine porcelain from local materials. For centuries the highly coveted translucent white ceramic, so pure that it sounded a bell-like tone when tapped with a hammer, had been available only from China. On a hill called Kao-ling, abundant supplies of the ceramic's basic raw material, a pure, white clay known as kaolin, had been known for a thousand years, but it took Marco Polo to bring it to the attention of European royals. The Medici had earlier succeeded in making a “soft-paste” type of porcelain, but it came nowhere near the quality of the “hard-paste” kaolin porcelain imported from China.

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