UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Stoneware for body and soul : a social interpretation of the Chinese stoneware record in British Columbia 1858-1958 Morrow, Trelle Arlen


The focus of this study is on a social interpretation of the Chinese utilitarian stoneware container record that has been formed in British Columbia from the mid-19th century through to the mid-20th century. Questions posed in the study revolve around typology and diagnostics of utilitarian stoneware food containers, in association with the social constructs relevant to understanding artifact assemblages. Food containers are found intact in abandoned Chinese habitation sites, museums, antique shops and in private collections. This material culture record is analyzed and interpreted in relation to both change and continuity in container design, manufacturing techniques, and application to specific food types. An extensive list of historical references is reviewed including writings of Western and ethnic Chinese researchers, documentation of pottery in ethnographic studies, and perspectives originating with current archaeological practitioners. Social constructs relevant to the research framework include merchandising and pottery intensification processes, transnational concepts, acculturation, and semiotics relating to the utilitarian stoneware product. Artifact and archival data for this study originate from collections in British Columbia; however, comparisons are made with artifact collections resulting from archaeological excavations at other Pacific Region venues. Anthropological, economic, ethnographical and technological contexts enter into the research framework, and are considered essential elements in an interdisciplinary synthesis of utilitarian stoneware. In order to arrive at the best possible understanding of utilitarian stoneware, a synthesis of all factors relative to the artifacts is essential. The provisioning practice of the merchant elite in both China and North America is seen to be the dominant social construct in understanding the stoneware artifacts. A co-dependence exists between the material and non-material cultural elements of utilitarian Chinese stoneware.

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