Nanfeng Kiln - Firing for five hundred years
To open the
mysterious mask of an old dragon kiln, to show the legend of an
ancient ceramic town, to extend the dragon's life of five hundred
years, the history of Nanfeng ancient kiln is worth studying and
kiln was built during the Zhengde years of
Ming Dynasty (1506-1521), a rare dragon
kiln with a history of almost 500 years
that is still in use for making ceramics nowadays. It is now the Key
Culture Relic Unit of Ancient Kiln in Guangdong Province.
For nearly five hundred years
the flame has never died out, with constant production. Thus the kiln
has been kept completely without any damage, which is rare in China.
It is the oldest dragon kiln left in China and the important cultural
protection site of Guangdong Province.
The opening of Nanfeng kiln
faces the south. The far end is under the green shade of banyan trees,
which brought cool breeze in summer, so the kiln was called "Nanfeng"
as it meant as "south breeze". During the long years, the production
had never been stopped for repairs. The present chimney of the kiln
was built in modern times. The kiln has a total length of 34.4 meters.
There are 29 rows of fire holes (5 for every row) on the kiln. It is
said that one fire for each row totals 29 fires. The fire hole is used
to stoke with wood during the firing. There are 4 doors on the side of
the kiln, for the loading and removal of products.
Flame - Mysterious and unpredictable
The composition and heat given
out during the wood firing bring limitless changes to the clay and
The dragon kiln is divided into
upper, middle and lower sections with three levels of temperature,
low, medium and high, varying from 900 to
1300 degrees Celsius, and operated and controlled solely by the
kiln master, to fire different kind of earthenware.
To maintain the reducing
atmosphere, the kiln master controls the duration and degree of
heating and the changes during firing, making decisions only by his
discerning eyes and operating according to changes of circumstance.
After firing for 20 hours, and waiting
until the kiln cools, it is then ready to open. The resulting produce
is in dazzling colors including blue, red, white and green.
Review the whole course of
pottery making, which reflects the hardship and intelligence of
old Shiwan Ceramic Town at the kilns twenty miles south of
the city of Canton in Guangdong province. This is the most famous city
in China in creating ceramic products nearly 500
years. Most of the National Master-pieces
and Museum pieces created there have been being
collected in the national museum and by
collectors all over the world.
Shiwan Ceramics was shaped in
Tang and Song Dynasty (618-906AD) and flourished in Ming and Qing
The main products such
as artistic ceramics, ancient garden ceramics, Spanish-type roof tile,
western-style roof tile, stone-resembled tile, stone-porcelain tile,
artistic garden tile, etc. are famous worldwide,
especially statues. There a professional team of art
masters has inherited and developed the outstanding tradition of
Shiwan ceramic techniques ranging from lively earthen figures, statues
and animals with thick and earthy ceramic glaze, to modern ceramics of
plain, elegant and fresh patterns, thus forming its own unique
artistic style and making Shiwan ceramic techniques extraordinarily
The artistic ceramics
of Shiwan are divided into four types of figures, animals,
micro-sculpts and daily utensils, of which the figure ceramics is
granted the national Golden Medal in three consecutive times, the
animal ceramics is granted the Hundred Flowers Medal and Silver Cup
Medal, micro-sculpt and daily utensils are granted Quality Product
Medal of Guangdong Province. Following the principle of "quality
product" is based upon elaboration, each piece of ceramics with
"signs" of the art masters is produced via six complicated procedures
(including design, plaster molding, pouring slurry for figuration,
amending cog, glazing and burning).