Shiwan Pottery Sculpture

 Shiwan Pottery Sculpture

Shiwan Town of Foshan City is one of the famous pottery production places in China, most famous for its pottery sculpture that is said to have a history over 800 years.


The abundant pottery relics excavated from the Dangqiu site at the Shiwan River cave were carved with rich geometric patterns and gave evidence that Shiwan pottery originated in the late Paleolithic age, over 5,000 years ago. The excavation of the kiln sites from the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties proved that Shiwan had been a rather large-scale pottery production base in the south of China since the Tang and Song dynasties.

Meanwhile, the artistry of Shiwan pottery developed on the basis of items made for daily use, and , gradually formed its own style starting in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It reached its heyday during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), with dozens of stores and hundreds of employees engaged in the pottery sculpture business.


Shiwan pottery is primitive in sculpting techniques, vivid in image, rich in glazed colors and with delicate carved craftwork that fully shows the advantages of the different textured base and glazes. It falls into five categories based on patterns, namely, human figures, animals, utensils for daily use, miniature sculptures, and tile-bridge pottery sculptures, forming a particular local style.

There are six basic steps to making the pottery sculpture; designing, refining the clay, molding, decorating, glazing, and calcining. It is necessary to have strict control of the kiln temperature.

Though Shiwan pottery can not be compared with china from Jingdezhen which is as blue as sky, as bright as a mirror, as thin as paper, and sounds like a chime, it has a special aesthetic appeal in its bold, primitive and na?ve style that is deeply rooted in the culture where it cam from.

In the past half a century, the art of pottery sculpture in Shiwan witnessed a full-scale revival, bringing forth many outstanding artists.