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Shiwan ceramic sculpture

By Qu Ran (Chinaculture.org)
Updated: 2011-02-16 13:12
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Shiwan is a town located in the southwest of the city of Foshan, with a long history of ceramic sculpture passed down through several generations of craftsmen. Its 5000-year-long ceramic making history has accumulated a rich and abundant ceramic culture, and won Shiwan the high prestige of the “Ceramics Capital of Southern China”.

Shiwan ceramic sculpture

 Shiwan ceramic sculpture

Unlike Jingdezhen’s porcelain sculptures, which were produced in Guan Yao (official manufacturer), Shiwan ceramics were mainly produced in response to social and economic needs. Ceramic sculptures for daily use as well as for art were both produced in Shiwan. The predecessors of Shiwan ceramic sculptures were first discovered in the cultural relics unearthed in the East Han Tombs of Shiwan. Shiwan ceramic making continuously developed before the Ming Dynasty, reaching its peak during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Having experienced a tough time during the Republican period of China, after the establishment of People’s Republic of China, Shiwan ceramics began its flourishingly innovative era.

Shiwan ceramic sculpture

Shiwan ceramic sculpture 

Made with unique artistic style, Shiwan ceramic sculptures have the characteristics of being humanistic, regional and national. “Shiwan Doll” ceramic sculptures can be classified into five categories: human, animal, utensil, mini-sculpture and tile ridge sculpture. Vividly designed and properly exaggerated from reality, “Shiwan Doll” ceramic sculptures have formed distinguished regional characteristics.

Shiwan ceramic sculpture

 Guan Yu in Shiwan ceramic sculpture

Shiwan ceramic sculptures are closely linked to architecture. In order to cater to the decoration of temples and other buildings, the making of flowerpots, fishbowls, window grills, and screen walls developed rapidly. To meet the demand of religious activities, large amounts of sculptures of icons and gods of gates were produced. Besides being artistically valuable, Shiwan ceramic sculptures also possess high practical usefulness.

Shiwan ceramic sculpture

 Shiwan ceramic sculpture

To make one sculpture, six steps have to be followed: design, refine the pug, shape, ornament, glaze and calcine. There is no sure formula for the duration of calcination; it all depends on master’s experience. Only a skillful master knows how to use fire of different temperatures on the calcination of different parts of the sculpture.

Shiwan ceramic sculpture

 Shiwan ceramic sculpture

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