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Chinese Pottery

Shanghai Museum

View Asia Tour on towangle's travel map.

The Shanghai Museum is a wonderful archive of art and culture with items dating back to 6000 BC and perhaps earlier.


I found the pottery exhibit especially interesting given the many parallels with dad's work.

China potters are proud that in English we call fine porcelain china. Doing so is a recognition of the impressive abilities of ancient potters in this part of the world. The Shanghai Museum has many examples of fine porcelain, as well as other types of pottery created in the different regions of this vast country.

When I was young, dad experimented with the blending of different colored clays that when rolled together formed agate like patterns. Mom would do the same when making beads out of femo. Rolled out snakes of different colors would be combined a larger roll. The roll would then be sliced like a refrigerator cookie and applied to a pot or bead.

The Chinese used a similar method to create ceramic pots that resembled carved wood. The example below is about the size of a small sugar bowl. What appears to be wood grains are actually thin layers of brown and tan colored clays.


I always assumed celadon only referred to the light green color dad uses on some of his pots, but it applies to a range of pale greens and yellows as seen in the picture below.


Ge Ware is characterized by crazing (glaze cracking). The jinsitienxian (gold thread, iron wire) style of Ge Ware has wider black cracks and thinner yellow cracks.


The oil drop glaze is very similar to a black glaze dad refers to as Ten-moku. If I recall correctly, the key ingredient for dad’s Ten-moku glaze was obsidian. I wonder if the Chinese had a similar methodology.


One of the most difficult high fire glazes to achieve is the copper red. In China they call it Jiangdouhong, which literally means “cow-pea red”. Here are a few examples of some reds made during the Qing dynasty.


Similar reds can be found earlier during the Ming dynasty, though these have a slight pinkish hue to them.



Equally striking was this yellow glaze, also from the Ming dynasty.


Towards the end of the exhibit there was a blue platter that reminded me a lot of the dark blue glaze dad uses for many of his pots. If you look closely you can make out the intricate designs, including a ferocious dragon.


Finally there were a few unusual pieces of note. These four vases melded together are odd in shape though the blue and white glaze is typical of china porcelain.


In addition to utilitarian pieces some interesting figures. This old man smoking a pipe caught my attention.


The entire exhibit was a treasure trove following the history of pottery in china through the ages. For an album view of these and other pictures check out the link below.


Posted by towangle 21:13 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites

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Great pottery! There are many conflicting stories about glaze names that come from that part of the world. One story about 'Celadon' is that when the English first started importing some of the exquisite grey green porcelain from China, there was an actor in Shakespear's acting company that wore a costume of similar color, and that his name was 'Celadon'. It may be a 'chicken and egg' kind of thing in that the name may very well have been a Chinese one that covered the many glaze colors that come from similar 1 - 2 % Iron glaze compositions that are very reactive with variations in the atmosphere during firing. The English may have favored the green effect, and the actor may have taken the name and immitated the color with his dress. This may account for the common association of western potters with the name celadon and iron green reduction glazes. This seems a more likely explanation in light of what you found. Another, mistery solved perhaps?

The glaze called 'Oil Drop' is often refered to as 'oil spot' in the USA and the UK. In Japan it is generally refered to as Ten Moku, or literally heavens eye, or translated more to the English, the eyes of heaven. This refers to the many spots looking like a stary night. The Japanese have been doing the glaze for probably more than 700 years, and one of there Pottery traditions bears the name Ten Moku. Still the Chinese were doing the glaze for even longer. Maybe more than 1100 years. They were the first people on the planet able to get their kilns hot enough to melt the common rocks that make up the earths crust. [This happened approximately 1100 years ago.] The oil drop glaze not so coincidentally has a composition very similar to the average composition of the earth crust. A cross section of the rock strata behind our house in NE Oregon, fired to 2400 degrees F. in oxidation - if you hold your mouth just right - can yield the same 'starry night' or 'oil drop' glaze. dad

by dwaln

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