- "Once they finally reached the very top of the great white porcelain wall, Dorothy, Toto and their three companions all looked down below and saw before them a very breathtaking sight indeed--a little world that was made entirely of beautiful dainty china! "
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).
The China Country is a dainty little enclave hidden deep within the enchanted forest of the southern quadrant known as Quadling Country of the magical Land of Oz. It is introduced in Baum's first Oz book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900 and appears in the twentieth chapter of the book titled The Dainty China Country.
- This element from Baum's Oz book was not in the classic 1939 MGM musical movie, The Wizard of Oz.
The Dainty China Country
The China Country in Oz is a rarely ever visited place, probably for the better because of it's delicacy. The China Country is surrounded by a very, very high wall made out of thick, solid, polished porcelain of all white intended to protect the fragile little world inside. Glinda the Good Witch who rules the southern quadrant cast a special weather spell over the sky above China Country from preventing any rain or snow from falling into the enclave.
Dorothy Gale, her dog Toto and their three Ozian companions the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion come upon this dainty place on their way to visit Glinda the beautiful Good Witch of the South, after Oz's ruler known as the great Wizard's plan to return Dorothy and her dog back to their home in Kansas failed.
- "Before them was a great stretch of country having a floor as smooth as glass and shining, white as the bottom of a big platter. Scattered around were many houses made entirely of china and painted in the most beautiful and brightest colors. These houses were quite small, the biggest of them reaching only as high as Dorothy's waist. There were also pretty little glazed barns, with glazed china fences around them; and many cows and sheep and horses and pigs and chickens, all made of china, were standing about in groups. "
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Oz (1900)
Inside A World of Dainty China...
The lovely China Country beyond the white porcelain wall is the most unique place in all of Oz, because its inhabtants, the tiny little people who live within are made entirely of china glass and are said to be no bigger than a baby-doll. There are even animals made of china as well. The floor of the China Country is glazed and polished smooth and is all white like the bottom of a big spotless platter. The many homes, shops, farms, palaces and even china mansions and castles are all neatly scattered around or lined up to make porcelain streets and walkways along the china floor. There are also china hills, china mountains and china vales placed upon this flooring. All the china items are delicately painted in bright and beautiful colors. Most of these dainty establishments are very small, the tallest building reaches only as high as a little girl's waist.
The China people are formed to represent Kings, Queens, figures of nobility, gentry, common folk and even peasants. There is even a clumsy clown. Dorothy learns that when one of the china people is injured or broken they may go to the mender to be repaired. However, while mending may repair it also disfigures and one is never as beautiful once they have been cracked. Individuals who have undergone mending are considered to be less attractive and of less worth than they had been before. The clown, having sustained many breaks from misguided attepts to stand on his head, bears evidence of his repairs in the form of ugly visible cracks that remain like scars over his entire face and body.
- "My lady fair, why do you stare at poor old Mr. Joker? You're quite as stiff and prim as if you'd eaten up a poker!""
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
The China people all move and talk and live quite freely, doing as they please in their own country, but if they were to ever venture beyond the white porcelain wall that surrounds the tiny world, their joints would instantly quickly freeze and stiffen, turning the china person to lifeless ornaments.
- "Dorothy looked down at the Princess and said, "Oh you are so beautiful that I am sure I could love you dearly. Won't you let me carry you back to Kansas, and stand you on Aunt Em's mantel? I could carry you in my basket." "That would make me very unhappy," answered the Princess. "You see, here in our country we live contentedly, and can talk and move around as we please. But whenever any of us are taken away our joints at once stiffen, and we can only stand straight and look pretty. Of course that is all that is expected of us when we are on mantels and cabinets and drawing-room tables, but our lives are much pleasanter here in our own country." "I would not make you unhappy for all the world!" exclaimed Dorothy. "So I'll just say good-bye." "Good-bye," replied the Princess. "
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
It's hinted that in the frozen state the china person retains its ability to feel and think although they are robbed of all means of movement or speech. The china people can only live and die inside the China Country.
Return to Oz 1985
In Walt Disney's cult classic film Return to Oz, the China clown can be seen in the coronation parade celebration towards the end of the movie.
Oz: The Great and Powerful
China Country, referred to as "China Town" in the film, was razed by Evanora's Winged Baboons, after the witch caught wind that it's citizens were all happily celebrating the prophesized Wizard's arrival in Oz. Most of the town was destroyed, shattering it's inhabitants, except for one survivor, a young China Girl whos legs were somehow broken in the attack. Luckily she is eventually found and saved.
The Wizard repairs her shattered legs with glue, giving her back the ability to walk again. She is later adopted into the Royal Court in the Royal Palace of Oz where we presume she lives on in safety, being protected by Glinda the Good Witch who becomes her mentor and motherly figure. (Oz: The Great and Powerful)
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
The China Country is one of the lands in Oz that Dorothy Gale travels to in the film. (Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return.
Legends of Oz World
In the Video game version; China Country can be visited by Dorothy's friend and Toto. (Legends of Oz World)
Real world influence
Baum's China Country has some parallels with the then-Empire of China. Both are protected by a Great Wall. The Princess' statement that people who leave China Country turn to inanimate toys, may be a metaphor of America's harsh immigration policy at the time. The dog of China Country is described consistently with a boxer dog (although Denslow draws it as a pug), a possible reference to the Boxers secret society. The Lion's accidental smashing of a church may refer to the aforementioned Boxers' attacks on Christian symbols.