Spring Break 2023 – going potty for pottery

An early start today for a visit to Jing de Zheng, famous for its ceramics. In fact it is the only industry in town. In a secluded spot the porcelain production has survived war, conflict and revolution.

Fun fact: ceramics are called China in the west because the early traders would shout ‘China, China’ when showing off their wares, to indicate where the items came from but this was mistaken by the westerners to mean the name. So our best tea services became known as our ‘China’. It’s interesting how language develops.

Anyway, our morning was spent having fun making some pottery. It was ‘get your hands messy’ time.

I have to admit that I am not skilled at a potters wheel and my creation crashed and I had to be given more clay! Even then the teacher largely did mine.

A rare moment before the disaster happened

Leping and I did have a hilarious time though

It’ was an in joke

Shifu and Leping Re-enacted a bit of the scene from ghost

But only this

I managed to paint my vase by myself

Then it was off to hit the weekend ceramics market which was quite extensive.

Beautiful little teacups at about a pound a piece. Seconds but you have to look very hard to see the imperfection.
The design on this platter looks like qi circling in the universe

After lunch we visited China’s biggest China museum. Here we learned about the history of fine porcelains.

The earliest porcelains were all produced for the royal family and in the beginning they favored a simple plain style in a pure unadulterated color.

Later traders encountered the cultures from the Persian peninsula and were influenced by the geometric tiles in their mosques. This is the oldest Ming vase that has been found with its distinctive blue and white pattern. It is probably the most valuable item in the whole collection.

From the Forbidden City

These large pitchers were placed around the palace to collect rain water which was then kept to put out fires as all the buildings were made of wood. They all had the same dragon pattern on so this has been put together from different pitchers. Only the Emperors were allowed to use a dragon with 5 talons. These are the true dragons. Any beasts with 3 or 4 claws are only ‘bao’ or snakes

This piece has 4 animals on it representing the 4 points of the compass. It would have been placed in a tomb so that the spirit could find its way back.

A display of ancient chinese pillows. And I thought the beds here nowadays were hard!! This looks like torture.
From the Tang Dynasty

I got very excited to see this piece as it is from the Tang Dynasty, the era of my namesake Wu ZeTian. (Approx 600 AD)

Ancient room diffuser

They would burn scented oil inside the duck and the smoke would come out of the beak! Very ingenious when you remember that this was made in the 1450s!

The fish dish

There is a saying in China, ‘you are not a fish so how do you know that the fish is happy you cannot say that the fish is happy’ which I think is quite profound. We often make assumptions about others (not just fish) and treat them badly without compunction.

The stunning snow leopard

I wasn’t expected to be blown away by the items in the modern section but look carefully at this snow leopard. The spectacular finish was caused completely by accident. This piece was being fired in an electric kiln when there was a major power cut. The workers all thought that the items would be ruined. Instead the leopard emerged with this beautiful effect for his coat and has since become a prize winning piece.

Finally we went to the site of an ancient kiln and old ceramic factory which reminded me very much of the UK with the brickwork! I haven’t seen red bricks in China before.

Great for a group photos
And some contemplation

Another great day was had by all

This is our cool album cover

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