|Dragon Kiln, just after cooling started.|
|Dragon Kiln; we could still see heat rising from end.|
Thow Kwang was built in 1940 to manufacture functional wares, the wood firing producing variegated glazes. Now it is fired two or three times a year to keep alive the tradition of pottery in Singapore. It was packed and lit on Saturday morning, reached 1400+ degrees, and by noon Sunday was cooling down.
Pottery Jungle refers to the open air warehouse adjoining the dragon kiln building. To give you some idea of the profusion of styles and symbols with hidden meanings:
|Blue and White in endless variety of motifs|
for good fortune.
|More blue and white.|
|Gibbons and peaches in homage to Journey to the West and Chen Wen Hsi,|
pioneering Singapore painter of gibbons.
|Modern versions of Nonya ware.|
I thought about the pottery shards found at Chinatown sites in California, and the shards found at excavations at Fort Canning and elsewhere on the island.
I thought about all the variety of ceramics in the museums of Singapore: Peranakan, the Tang Shipwreck at the Asian Civilizations Museums. Ceramics have marked Southeast Asia's global commerce since forever!
|Plate from Marysville Chinese Museum.|
Seeing these thousands of pots, a virtual jungle of them, is so different from their display in museums, where each one is individually spotlighted to emphasise its status as a masterwork. I think that may miss the point of the technical challenges of mass production conquered by the potters of China. Seeing them in all their profusion is humbling.
To wit, a version of the Imperial peach vase, like the one at the Asian Art Museum, displayed in open air, a green layer of mold was growing around the shoulder.
|Peaches of Immortality, in open air storage.|