Porcelain firing techniques of the Cizhou Kiln

 Porcelain firing techniques of the Cizhou Kiln



The Cizhou Kiln is an outstanding representative among ancient folk kilns in China and is also the largest folk kiln in North China. Cizhou porcelain was was used to make ordinary household items, and was manufactured in the ancient region of Cizhou, which includes present-day Fengfeng Mining Area, Ci County and Wu'an, in the city of Handan, where the pottery got it's name. The town of Pengcheng in the Fengfeng Mining Area is the main production area, covering an area of 32.6 square kilometers.

History

As early as the neolithic Cishan Culture Period, primitive people living in the present-day Fengfeng Mining Area had already fired polished earthenware and set up earthenware workshops, making this area one of the cradles of pottery production in China. The Cizhou Kiln flourished during the Song Dynasty (960-1127), and reached its peak during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when Pengcheng, the center of Cizhou Kiln, became the porcelain capital of North China.

Cizhou porcelain-making techniques were combined with porcelain decoration during the Song Dynasty, and are combined with traditional painting and handwriting arts. This fostered a new creativity in porcelain aesthetics and paved the way for the development of blue and white porcelain, and five-colored porcelain.

Features

The raw material needed to make Cizhou porcelain all comes from local resources, such as blue earth, white alkali soil, and saggar. Using special firing techniques, a combination of five different colors of porcelain can be combined in one piece. Cizhou porcelains come in many glazed colors: white, black, yellow, brown, and green as well as a blended glaze.

Cizhou's most outstanding achievement is applying the traditional Chinese art of painting to the porcelain, with the painted decoration on white glaze being mostly black or brown, or black on green or yellow glaze. There are also incised, engraved, carved, and embossed designs on white glaze, all showing proficient skills.

Cizhou motifs are fish, aquatic weeds, flowers, birds, galloping deer, frolicking rabbits, dragons, phoenixes, vases with carved designs of flowers on a body with pearl-like dots, acrobats, legends, and poems and essays.

Significance

The traditional porcelain firing techniques of the Cizhou Kiln has radiated to form a circle of porcelain culture, including folk customs, oral literature, and kiln architectural art, etc, around the local trading areas. At its peak, Pengcheng Town held more than 20 temple fairs every year, leaving behind rich trading conventions, folktales, farming work proverbs, and a lot of calligraphy and paintings made on household utensils.

The Cizhou Kiln is second to none and has a unique style among the numerous kilns. The artist paints on the porcelain with small scenic pictures in a simple, free, vivid and bold style. It garnered fame both at home and abroad, and had a lasting influence on successive kilns. The masterpieces it produces exemplify the historical decorative art of Cizhou porcelain. Archaeological investigations have discovered Cizhou porcelains spread out over a large area - far beyond the confines of ancient Cizhou.