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Song-era china-making revived


10:45, October 23, 2012

CERAMISTS said yesterday that they have produced 3,000 porcelain items using a replica of an ancient kiln in east China's "porcelain capital" of Jingdezhen.

The move is part of the city's efforts to revive historic porcelain-making techniques.

"The firing (of the ceramics) proved successful," said Lai Dequan, a Beijing-based Master of Fine Arts, adding that the color and sheen of the porcelain ware matched artifacts made 700 years ago in the same type of kiln.

The "dragon kiln," which gets its name from its dragon-like shape, was widely used in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) to produce greenish-white porcelain, a landmark achievement in China's porcelain-making history.

Ceramic archeologists and antique experts from Jingdezhen and China's Palace Museum, known as the Forbidden City, checked items after firing.

"It is amazing to recall the splendid times of China's porcelain by looking at this 'reborn' china," said Lai.

He said that the wares have a gentle and mild glaze, marking the successful return of dragon kiln craftsmanship after its centuries-long disappearance.

To protect and continue the legacy of Jingdezhen's ceramic craftsmanship, the local government started the dragon kiln reproduction project in June.

Top ceramists conducted an investigation of ancient kilns from the Song Dynasty before creating the new dragon kiln.

"With the development of the porcelain industry and improvements to the shape of kilns, the Song Dynasty witnessed the peak period for building dragon kilns," said Zhou Ronglin, director of the Jingdezhen Municipal Ceramic Cultural Heritage Research and Protection Center.

The replica kiln was built on a hill near Jingdezhen, a city in Jiangxi Province that has a 1,700-year history of producing porcelain.

"With the reopening of the kiln, we can study how ancient people loaded the kiln, how they controlled the temperature and duration of the firing and how they handled the airflow in the kilns to affect the appearance of the finished wares," Zhou said.
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