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Ceramic Culture


         Some people said,ceramics is an art on the wheel, Time freezes on the axis when the wheel is turning; civilization progresses when the caly is revolving. Others said,ceramics is a child of fire. Marvels born in the fire are going to last after the fire.
                                      
       Here in Jingdezhen is a profound legacy of a thousand years. In complete silence, the voice tells the history of the art on the wheel.It explains the magic of fire, gives a spark of wisdom, and sets heart on fire.
    Talking about ceramics, people will think of Jingdezhen. It's known in the world as the home to porcelain. Come to this place to know for yourself what Jingdezhen is like, Turn the age-old potter's wheel, touch the crumbling brick wall and smell the warm clay, In this place you can learn ceramic skills and legends both handed down from generation to generation.
    Traditional Jingdezhen porcelain products are classified into 3 categories: round wares, zhuo wares and slab-built wares. Round wares incude bowls,plates,cups and saucers; Zhuo wares are 3-dimensinally modeled wares which are usually vases; Slab-built wares are usually not round in shape. They include squere brush holders and hexanguar vases. Wares different in shape usually require different shaping techniques. The shaping of a round ware is an art on the wheel: Throwing, mold-pressing, trimming and glazing are all handled on a rotating wheel. For the convenience of handling, ancient potters invented a hand-powered wheel. A pushing stick and a wooden platform rotating on a wooden axis make up the potter's wheel. So far the hand powered mechanism has thrown numerous artworks out of clay. Even the descendents from the steam engine inventor will study it with wonders. 'Chrysanthemum  heart,lotus petals, three times foot trampling and twice shovel mixing.'

                                      
    If you do not come to Jingdezhen,you will never hear this ballad. It describes the first step of material treatment-clay trampling. After ageing for some time, the washed clay must be trampled by potters with their bare feet. The pepeated trampling will mix the material properly.The old ballad sets the rule for this game. In order to remove the bubbles in the clay,the foot trampled material must be kneaded by hand,that is clay kneading.

    The real show starts when the clay is loaded on the wheel. The handling is very exciting and is called 'throwing'or'shaping'. the hand pulls the clay up and the clay is set into a shape. A skilled worker can throw a vessel like a magician, his performance will capture the attention of all the people, many visitors cannot help themselves but ventrue to give it a try.
    Once a bowl is thrown, It should be pressed on a set mold to obtain a standard shape,that is mould pressing. After mold-pressing, shaped greenwares need to dry, ancestors of potters used sunshine long ago,in order to make full use of the sun and take good control of the drying rate to reduce the number of cracked or deformed pieces, they dug a small pond inside their workshop, Over the pond ware wooden shelves for drying the pieces. The wooden shelves and the pond combined are called the framed pond drying system, the system is based on water evaporation, When it's hot and dry, the pond water evaporates quickly,green pieces on the shelves will suck water from the air, So they will not crack for fast drying. How ingeniously they used their knowledge of climate to design this drying system!
                                          
    If you observe carefuly enough, you will see how smooth the surface of every porcelain piece is, the absence of pores and scratches result from adequate moisturzing and fettling. To moisturize a green piece is to rinse it.Fettling is also called trimming. Trimming is so difficult that workers must handle their knives with great care, A slight negligence will ruin the whole piece.
                                           
    The next step is painting, Bule and White painting is most popular painting,which is an underglaze decoration, because the painting is covered by a layer of glaze, It will never wear off. the skill and efficiency of painting are said to be handed down from their ancestors who worked under high presure from the market in ancient times, the pressing demand would not allow a second's delay,it reveals how well blue and white porcelain has sold in the market throughout the time.
                                            
     The work at the shaping shop ends with glazing,the glazed wares are loaded into the kiln where the firing is taking place. But before firing, they will load the wares into countainers named saggar, the material for making saggars is specially selected, That is fire-resistant clay.