Black pottery brings prosperity to village in Shangri-La, Yunnan province

By Li Ping | | Updated: 2023-11-22 16:32
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Black pottery items are displayed at a pottery museum in Tangdui, Tangman village, Nixi township, Dechen Tibetan autonomous prefecture, Shangri-La city in Southwest China's Yunnan province, Nov 16, 2023. [Photo by Zhao Jinyue/provided to]

The ancient craft of Tibetan black pottery is driving villagers on a path to prosperity in Tangdui, nestled in the city of Shangri-La in Southwest China's Yunnan province.

The time-honored craft, renowned for its deep black hue akin to paint and the brilliance of jade, holds the status of a State-level intangible cultural heritage. Spanning over 2,000 years of history, its roots lie in Tibetan areas such as Tangdui, in Tangman village, Nixi township of Shangri-La's Dechen Tibetan autonomous prefecture, as well as in Sichuan and Qinghai provinces.

66-year-old Kelsang Wangdu, echoing a generational tradition in Tangdui, started learning the technique at 12. However, life led him away from this craft as he had to seek a livelihood elsewhere. It was not until his 50s that he returned home to revive this cherished art that are ingrained in his lineage.

"Every day, I dedicate myself to refining my skills, crafting new black pottery, and teaching a group of apprentices step by step," he said. Currently, he mentors 11 apprentices, including his son, passing down the age-old techniques.

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