April 15, 2018

Sculpture Module Begins

April 15, 2018
There's a chorus of frogs singing every night in the pond outside my window where urban meets rural. Missing peeper season in Wellfleet. I heard a backhoe outside the other day. Now the farm has another pond. Its rained hard yesterday. Plants thriving. Along the railroad tracks, too, veggies are growing fast. 
I'm happy to be working hard here now as our sculpture module kicks into gear. I am turning an empty exhibiton space into studio space. (I will have to turn it into exhibition space in June) I salvaged dry discarded sheet rock cutoffs ffrom the pile next to the crumbled brick shack along the path I walk often  to cross the tracks. Cut them up and taped the edges for work supports.   I also found too heavy to move glass panels and some curved cut offs of white plexiglass. Nice forms.This recycling and reusing is something I would like to encourage in the students. Waiting for our 300 kilos of big pot clay. It is an easy dark brown groggy stoneware. With the little clay I have, I'm prepping tiles with contrasting high white porcelain slip for students to try sgraffito. Class starts Tuesday.
I am teaching with Kong Fanqiang, who is trained in traditional portrait and figure sculpture and whose bronze busts, figures and steel sculptures dot the SJTU campus. 

I have also been asked to do a public art installation for the school and already over 25 people want to work on this. This is like teaching a whole other class for which I was not prepared. More to come.
demo tile in process

Morning Walk in ZhongShan Park 中山园

Wednesday, March 28
It is a beautiful morning here in Zhongshan Park, across from the metro, near the hostel I slept in last night. Groups of dancers booming music, men watching men at game tables, elderly people listening to live traditional music, parents and kids on the big lawn, tai chi, gourd flute, winding paths through spring growth. bronze sculptures. I have videos of the music and of the dancers, not uploaded yet. Here's some pictures.





Finding my Shanghai Clay Home

 乐天陶折Pottery Workshop in Shanghai feels like home.
Tuesday March 27


After the last trip to town, by Didi on Saturday, taking 2 hours in traffic, I am determined to find my way by Metro. Into my sack I pack toothbrush and change of clothes, clay tools and about 10 pounds of the porcelain I ordered in week two. I have found this clay to be unworkable for much of anything. I will try it for throwing today. So with a load on my back, I get a yellow bike and begin a ride to the nearest Metro stop, Jianchuan Lu, line 5. It is hot, load is heavy, it is further than I expect, but at last, I am on my way to the city. The workshop is open until 9 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I arrive about 3pm and set to work. I make some porcelain bowls and cups, then switch to the big pot brown clay and throw 2 BreadPots and lids and some mugs and bowls. I work until about 7:30. I leave the pots uncovered with a plan to come back tomorrow. I am happy to have a clay home in Shanghai and a clay sister here in Guo. Here is their website.
Upstairs display area

180 Shaanxi Nan Lu


It is not too far by Metro to the Rock and Wood International Youth Hostel near Zhongshan Park. I walk from the Metro to the Hostel, about 20 minutes.I have a small room with a bathroom and only a window to the corridor. There are towels, but I have forgotten to bring soap. I call Richard and then go to bed. I am lonely and tired.

Wednesday March 28
In the morning I have a western style breakfast at the hostel and then hop on a yellow bike to Zhongshan Park. The park is full abuzz, dancing, flute, parents with kids, old folks and men watching men at game tables. I walk and watch. I shoot videos of what they translate as "Square Dancing", dancing in the squares, which is very popular. The videos capture the overlapping sounds of the different dance groups practicing. Morning walk in ZhongShan Park 中山园 here.


I arrive at the Pottery Workshop at noon and set to working on the pieces I started yesterday.  The porcelain bowls have mostly cracked overnight. (Guo agrees that the high white porcelain is only good for slip.) Most of the other pieces are ready for me to trim. Patience is a big part of the clay process, but my time is short and a few pieces are lost in the rush.

Friday March 30
Back at the pottery I attend to my  work. At 5 I leave to go to change into clean clothes at nearby rental I found on bookings. I find the address down a small alley. The white bearded man who lives in the building hasn't a clue what I am talking about. A woman comes, she calls a guy. He comes on his motorbike 10 minutes later and opens a coded key box. No key! He calls a woman, who tells me that alas, the place is not available but she had updated it on the site. I am in clay covered clothes on my way to a seder with no where to stay for the night. I book a bed in a hostel (another story for later).
I get on a yellow OFO bike and ride to the old temple Ohel Rachel Synagogue, built by and named by Sasson for his wife. I change clothes in the bathroom and wander about taking pics until the seder begins. It is about 200 Shanghai Jews. Ohel Rachel Shanghai Seder

April 5, 2018

Qing Ming Jie


清明时节纷纷 
路上行人欲断魂 
酒家何有 
牧童遥指杏花村 


In this famous poem the first line: "Qing ming shi jie yu fen fen" means that the rain falls lightly in this period..exactly so today. The spring rains. Qingming (Pure Brightness) is one of the 24 divisions of the year. It is also the tomb sweeping day, when people visit their ancestors graves, cleans them, and burn paper money for them to use in the afterlife. I was in Jingdezhen when I first learned this poem on this holiday in 2009.


April 1, 2018

Travels to Shanghai Center

This week, I started taking the subway! I went to town three times, twice stayed overnight. It was time of dense experience. Here are the details of these trials.
Pottery Workshop Shanghai

On Saturday March 24: Sitting in traffic in a DiDi Chuxing (they bought out uberchina) heading to check out 乐天陶社 the Pottery Workshop on Shaanxi nan lu. 陕西南路180弄1号甲. It is a full hour away but I'm hoping to fit it into my life here. I got some clay from them when I arrived. One bag of porcelain that seems good for nothing without a wheel and some big pot stoneware that seems as forgiving as my wonderful BreadPot clay. Traffic in Shanghai is always terrible, the driver tells me. In the end it took over 2 hours and was only one of the travel frustrations of the day.
I checked out the Pottery Workshop and met the warm and friendly teacher Guo. I am looking forward to making it my clay home in Shanghai. From there I took the subway Line 10 to Longxi. I have been here five weeks now. Up until last week, slowed down by the broken ankle, my only outings were to see physical therapist Frank Fan and explore the neighborhood near Body and Soul, including a French provisioner right next door (ah baguette and brie) and LaoWai Jie, the Foreigner Street, with international restaurants. (Thai tonight!!). I came out from the subway with enough time to get to my appointment by bike. I tried to unlock a bike, but alas, my mobile network let me down. I could not receive the code. I walked fast, limping on my painful ankle, looking for a taxi, none around. I messaged that I would be late...that worked, so why not the bike. I found another bike to try and finally got one to work. Aargh. The travel frustrations stress me out, especially as I am not walking well or fast. Frank was sweet and understanding when I arrived sweaty and out of breath. After dinner of Pad Thai (alone), exhausted, too tired to figure out the subway home, I took a taxi back to my place. Third travel frustration--where I live is new and the address is a mystery, so the drivers have a hard time finding it. My phone battery is nearly dead, so my tools for communicating the location are fading fast. At last I guide him and I am back. 

On Tuesday I will go to Pottery Workshop again, this time to work. I can pay to work there by the day or the week, plus 25Y/kilo for any work fired. 


March 21, 2018

Figuring it Out, Settling In

Hello my friends,
I have spent much time these three weeks figuring how to live here--matters of culture, language and technology. After being frustrated by the inability use a credit card to buy things I needed at WuMei/WuMart, the only store within my current walking distance, I now have a Chinese bank account, which is  linked to my China Mobile phone number and my WeChat (Weixin) account. This is linked to my DiDi account (they took over uber). As of today, as a result of my confusion, I today, I have paid two supposedly refundable deposits for an OFO bicycle sharing account, one through the Android app in English for which I had to send a photo of me with my passport and pay with a visa credit card and the other a Chinese account for which I paid a deposit half the amount through WeChatPay. I tried to sign up for this first but got stuck at not having a national id card to input and there was no other option. At1yuan/hour I can pick up a yellow bike anywhere, scan the qrcode, get a code to unlock, ride and leave it whereever you go. This mostly works but for my phone going into no mobile connection mode or an occasional broken bike.

It has become a cashless culture here. China leapfrogged the credit card, everything is through the mobile phone. Just because you are not paranoid doesn't mean they are not tracking you.

Package deliveries to the KuaidiHui
I spent much of one day figuring out how to buy something on TaoBao (like amazon), translating each page into English, setting up an account there and a payment account with Alipay (rival to WeChatPay) and linking that to my bank account and then in the end they made me use my credit card anyway, always a foreigner, not sure how they know that. It took almost an hour to input my address until it was satisfied. Success! In a day or two a package arrived and was put in a lock box at the service center and I was sent a text to my phone with a number. I had to input into a terminal, then get a confirmation code and at last the box popped open and, for a mere 4 bucks, I have a folding travel yoga mat. All that in Chinese interface. Whew. While my conversational Chinese is better everyday, my reading and listening abilities are weak. I use my dictionary app to read what is around me, writing in unfamiliar words and hoping they stick. A screen reader on my phone helps to figure out interfaces which use words that didn't exist when I studied Chinese.

A card gets me into the dorm building, the school ICCI building and my office 416. There is no working studio space yet, so I am using the other desk in my office The floor is carpeted so I nabbed some discarded cardboard boxes to protect it. I was originally sharing an office, but I pressed to have my own space, as there were many unoccupied offices. There was too much bureaucracy involved in officially changing my office assignation, but not much was needed to activate my card for another space. O China. The card can be reloaded with funds which I can use to buy more hot water credit, pay for food at the canteen/dining room, and at the convenience store on site. Electricity is another story. When it runs out, I have to pay cash to the security in the dorm. O China! There are places to eat on the bigger SJTU campus nearby, but my card doesn't work there. The Wumart and "Magic Plaza" are seeming closer as my ankle improves. I have tried Korean, street food and Stir Fry there. The Zizhu food service is..well...institutional Chinese. Apparently they hired a well respected French foodservice company...

My floor in the dorm has two other rooms occupied. There is a hot/cold water dispenser down the hall, so I bumped into one of the girls once, but otherwise only hear them giggle. By week two I had a comforter(thanks to the staff) and a sheet that fits my bed, (thanks to my colleague and kind friend Titus, who has also shown me around, got me yogurt and laundry soap). I learned how to manage the heater in my room, how to pay to get hot water in the shower, which involves inserting my card in a slot in the shower and reloading it when my 15 yuan run out. Pearl got me a lamp for my bedside, which makes it possible to read.

Here's my room, ninth floor, facing NW, no kitchen, too much storage. There is minimal to no wifi in my room, so I go to work early and stay late to talk to Richard or mom or the kids...or you, if you like, my Skype id is jmotzkin1. 12 hour difference.
Using a virtual private network (VPN) I am able to use google or download stuff from Netflix to watch in my room at night. I could buy broadband, but I like coming to work. I have been watching the very disturbing British scifi horror series Black Mirror. I am able also to download books from Minuteman library on Overdrive whenever they come in. Like I said, I am alone alot. I write longhand almost every day, both in a diary and free writing, a la "The Artists' Way".

As to my fractured ankle, I have been twice to a Chinese trained western style physical therapist Frank Fan.  The place was on the approved list from the GeoBlue preexisting condition travel health insurance I bought. Despite the limits stated in the policy, it appears they are paying fully for 5 sessions within one month. My location is quite far from the city and, while a local subway is being built now, the closest is an hour walk away. I took didi and taxis both times I went and found myself in a neighborhood with some shopping and the famous LaoWaiJie 老外街(Foreigner street), a long walking street/alley where there are restaurants from all over, American, german, thai, etc. Titus came with me the first time and we went for american food. Last time, I was Frank's last patient. It was 8 pm and he asked me to have dinner together. We went to a Japanese place next door. He treated me in gratitude for my help with his English. I am trying to walk without a limp on the whole foot heal to toe and doing exercises to point and flex and stand on tiptoes. Of course all this aches.

Each faculty in our course gives one lecture to the whole class over the first 6-7 weeks. Mine was originally scheduled for week 4, this week, but was moved up to week two. So I worked day and night the first week and a half to get that together. I wish I had more time to edit and get to know the students. This post is long, so I will write about the school and our course later as it evolves.

The first two weeks here were very quiet; there was more activity and lots of people around last week, week 3, USC week. The students had a special course all week about business models in the entertainment industry taught by a faculty member from University of Southern California, the partner school of this program. I sat in on some student presentations so I could get to know the students a bit and see how I can help them with their English and presentation. They have to pass a difficult English test soon so they may go to USC in LA next semester. I am proposing to do an English pronunciation clinic as the students have a spoken part of their upcoming English test.
There were also more students in the dining room from the other programs here in the Zizhu International Education Park: the French AmLyon business school and one associated with Kings College. Saturday there was an all day symposium with faculty from USC and here presenting research. Saturday night was the commencement of the first graduating class of this program. It was held at the Shanghai Tower on the 118th floor. Second tallest building in the world, after Dubai.

One of the staff heard me talk about wanting to do yoga, so she sent me the info for signing up for classes on the Jiaotong campus at noon for staff. On my own, I managed to sign up for yoga class on Thursday at noon and for seal carving, which started today, Monday. I walked there and found my way using gps on Baidu. (google only works when I have wifi and vpn going, so not out in the world, where I am dependent on mobile.) It was about 45 minutes at my slow pace, longest walk yet, and cold. The first class was a powerpoint, so while understanding about 30% of the talk, with pictures, my past studies and dictionary I think I got about 75% of the the content. I don't need to know the names and sources of every kind of stone. It was an hour long and I was at the limit of my ability to take in more language. I have just gone over the vocabulary of the materials list. There is a wechat group to manage the class, so already it is confirmed that some are going in together to get stuff and my needs will be met. I look forward to the hands on lessons. My own chops, with which I have stamped my work forever, were carved for me when I was in Shanghai in 1975. I will try to do Motzkin.

One of the professors in our course is a well respected calligrapher Zhou Bin. His family lives in Irvine and he has a place in Manhattan, Central park and the 50s, where he teaches calligraphy. He taught Ban Ki Moon, former SG of the UN. He will teach me calligraphy, I will help him with English. I am very interested in his attitudes about China and the US. From what he has said so far, he thinks China is better than America.



View from the terrace window week one, much greener already

There is a farming beyond the dorm, so I have my eye on what they are growing. Sunday, I took a muddy walk through the veggie gardens there, where a woman was hoeing and weeding. I saw peas, celery, lettuce, rampseed, garlic and some plants I didn't recognise. It is spring, so there are lots of things beginning. Magnolias are losing their blossoms, cherries are blooming, willows are brightening. It is cool and drizzly this week. Week two we had some warm sunny days in the 70s. Spring will come. Today is the equinox.

My room is on the 9th floor of the building on the right




Anybody know what this one is?

WeChat in China

How WeChat came to rule China



Here are some links about WeChat. It figures big in life here, so I will come back to write about it.

March 18, 2018

What am I doing in Shanghai now?...Spring 2018


I arrived three weeks ago to teach Creative Practice at ICCI, Institute for Culture and Creative Industry. 文化创业产业学院 It is a part of Shanghai Jiaotong University 上海交通大 which has two campuses in Shanghai. We are near the Minhang campus south of the city. The other, older campus is in town. I will use periodic letters home to family and friends to begin to answer some of these questions.
What is this school?
What am I teaching?What am I learning?
What is the living situation?
Where are we?
Who are the other people?
How has China changed over the 43! years since I first visited?
What are the students like?


...

February 2, 2018

October 2016 in Xian, Jiangxi, and Hangzhou and Shanghai

Xian with Dean
Jingdezhen with WuFei and Bi and coming baby
Ruichang for James' wedding
Hangzhou during National Week
Shanghai

I will post images and write about these at some point.
This is the placeholder.

May 14, 2013

The last of the tiny urns

Today I shipped off the very last of the 3" urns from the second trip to China in 09.
"You ren ma?" (Anyone here?) Wu Fei sweetly sang out as we approached the gate of a potter who slip casts small forms. I had not heard that question used. I had not known to call the potter Shifu (master).
He and his taitai are home working. They answer. We enter. Shifu, we want to look at some small covered pots. We carefully pick over the lot, choosing well a dozen of this and a dozen of that. Just what we can carry back to the studio, where I will make terra sigillata--I have to find some soda ash--and I will show Wu Fei how to apply this ancient material. And we will fire to 900C, just enough to keep the shine. I will take them home and ship them home and fire them in saggars on the cape. Many break in transit. oh well. I save the rest by re-bisquing them. We did not get them high enough for this clay which really wants to be fired to a dense 1300C.

January 30, 2011

Nanshan Waterfall at Yaoli

Click on post title or slideshow to the right to see bigger pics.

We paid the entrance fee, which was good for two days and included entrance to various sites in Yaoli as well as to the trail up to the falls. The trail is a one way loop and we are the only ones hiking. As I wrote in my post about Yaoli, this is a place whose tourism is being planned, but has not yet been invaded by crowds. As Dean Huang and I started up to the falls I was reminded of the pine and granite landscapes of New Hampshire and the gorges and waterfalls of my old haunt, Ithaca, N.Y.

But none of these favorite places features the vast waves of rustling feathery yellow green bamboo that we saw across the way and walked through as we descended. My Chinese friends are surprised when I tell them that we do not have this kind of bamboo forest where I live.

NanShan waterfall, I am told by a friend, but my research does not prove, is partially man made. From the base of this wonderful flow we cannot tell what is above. Is it a dam? No evidence from below. I have also been told that, due to some military secrets, the area has been at times forbidden to outsiders.

Waterfalls are my holy land and this one was a pilgrimage worthy of the hike, perfectly orchestrated for serenity and awe. Power of fast flowing water led us up to the unexpected force and magnitude of the large fall, followed by the peaceful hike down through the forest of bamboo.
We followed the sound of water rushing to find ourselves looking up a powerful wall of water.


Then we started down through the bamboo.


The trail brought us down past a small shelter with bamboo roots used to echo the curving roof lines of ancient architecture and tea harvesters finishing their day's work. The young leaves are harvested in the early and late day. When we ask around for a place to stay we find that the farmer's homes are housing the migrant workers now and so not available for us to rent rooms for the night. Across the river, we found a farmers house, shop with 3 rooms. We were offered the special room, with a television and a double bed for 40 yuan. We declined and negotiated the two separate rooms for the same price. We had dinner of fern stems there with the family kids, while the dad roasted tea leaves in a wide pan. My room was white washed, white painted beds, white linen, very soothing...sleep. Next day we hike up behind the village, past the Taoist hermits. I found fiddle head ferns, but we had eaten the stems. They don't eat the heads. And they looked perfect. Then a found a raspberry, one single orange raspberry. Dean had never seen a raspberry, he did not know what it was. He trusted me and ate it. One berry. They must grow somewhere in China.

December 8, 2009

Inspired by China's porcelain...bowl sale saturday

Studio Sale Saturday 12-5
7 Tufts Street Cambridge, MA

I came back from China in October inspired to work with the porcelain I had in the studio. The clay needed to be reconstituted into a workable state. I made 40 bowls: ice cream bowls, cereal bowls, serving bowls, all sizes. I used the cobalt blue that I brought home from Jingdezhen and underglazes to paint and carve them. I am at the kiln in Wellfleet now and will glaze and fire them this week. They will be hot from the kiln when I return for the sale on Saturday. The studio is rich with great flame painted pots as well. So, my friends, I hope to see you then. I will get back to writing about China when the elf season is over. Gus asked me today if I wanted to go to a sale with him. I said, as I rushed around with deliveries, "I can't shop, I'm an elf."

October 31, 2009

Back again from China

I returned last week from my second trip to China this year. I returned to Jingdezhen for the International Ceramics Festival and an Exhibition in which I was showing a piece which is now in the collection of the Jingdezhen Ceramics Museum.

My visit was enriched by my now old friends in Jingdezhen who put me up, provided a studio for me to work in and traveled with me to LuShan, one of the five sacred Taoist mountains. I will continue to write and show pictures as I adjust to the time zones of home and sort through photos. .

The ease with which I can travel in China, with my Chinese improving every day, is stark contrast to the tightly controlled tour I was on in 1975. That year was the last time I was in Shanghai, a city whose changes are vast over these 34 years and changing still as they rapidly build new, exotic structures in advance of the Shanghai Expo in 2010.

More to come. Nice to be home.

September 19, 2009

LaoChang, the Old Factory area

Welcome to LaoChang, the Old Factory area.
It is a lively sunny day. The clay and plaster molds are all out in the sun. The pace of outdoor work is picked up with the sunshine after endless days of drizzle. Such is the universality of clay work. Things will dry quickly and time must not be lost or wasted. I find my way through endless alleys. A small girl finds a place to pee, a small boy discovers me looking at him.

There is nothing in my experience or definition of "factory" that resembles what I find here in this old factory area. In this area there are seemingly independent ceramic enterprises, large and small, every stage of ceramic process and life, interconnected by a main street and narrow winding ways, split by a railroad track. In the flat area below the tracks, there are potters, painters and glazers, throwing, painting and spraying.
Unfired pots are deftly moved through the streets on hand pulled wheeled carts. Beyond the tracks are masters with with rows of plaster molds being poured and released and turned in the sun.






























August 14, 2009

Keep off a bump on the head

Last week, a friend sent this web link to a site with photos of Chinese signs made funny by the translations into English. While I found the comments about each sign a bit insensitive and lacking understanding of the Chinese, I printed it out and brought it as study material to my Chinese study meetup in Central Square. My intent was not to laugh at the "chinglish", but to understand what the signs say and mean and to decipher what went wrong in the translations. Interestingly, the native Chinese speakers in the group were not always sure of why the English was funny to us, so it was instructive in both directions. Some of what came out sounding ridiculous in English were poetic uses and literary twists of Chinese. We laughed and learned and shared our linguistic experience. We saw many mistranslations in China, took pictures of some which I will share later, and considered fixing translations as a career option.

Keep off a bump on the head

小心碰头

xiao-small

xin-heart

xiaoxin-be careful

peng-bump

tou-head

Here the translation does not suffer from being too literal, but from the confused use of a dictionary. Xiaoxin. The characters mean small and heart individually, but together mean be careful and might well be used to mean keep off instead of be careful to warn danger. The other two characters mean bump and head. Simple. Be careful bump head. A literal translation might come out in English as "Carefully bump head" or "Caution bump head, which is also odd. We would write, "Watch your head" which if reverse translated into Chinese might come out as "Read your head" or "look at your head". So while this sign translates strangely, we are lucky it didn't say "Small heart, bump head." Sort of Zen koan there.

This sign was at the beginning of the trail up to the Nanshan Waterfall at a place where low hanging pine branches crossed the high trail. I am working on the pictures of the hike and waterfall for the next post.

August 4, 2009

Yaoli potters ran out of clay

A visit to Yaoli


Yaoli (translated as Inside the Ceramic Kiln) is a small village approximately 60 km outside of Jingdezhen and a short distance away from Mt. Kaolin (GaolingShan), the source of petuntze, the white feldspar that makes porcelain what it is. It is a walk back in time to what it might have been like during Ming and Qing Dynasties in a porcelain production town in the Jiangxi countryside, but no one is working in clay there anymore. Apparently the local clay ran out long ago. The well-preserved ancient ancestral halls of the Cheng family showing feudal life, classical courtyard buildings, and intriguing winding alleys tell of a different time. The village of Yaoli is set in a beautiful landscape of old-growth forests, hills and the Yaohe river valley. It is also famous for its green tea.

Yaoli is also the historic meeting place for the mobilization of the resistance war against Japan and rear office of the New Fourth Army and former residence of General Chenyi. Signs of the building of a tourist attraction for ceramics and tea consist of a few hotels, even a resort and new construction. Unlike the rebuilt tourist site towns I visited with Richard in Yunnan--LiJiang and Dali- ancient walled cities that have been turned into bustling vacation destinations for mostly Chinese tourists, busy like a theme park, it is not yet heavily promoted as a destination. A bigger road is being built from Jingdezhen, a process we watched for an hour or so while our bus waited for the gravel to be laid out over a 20 meter stretch while we watched the building of a wall at the side of the road. This was frustrating to the others on the bus, but I love to watch work.

We arrived in Yaoli by lunchtime. The vegetable available at lunch and dinner in Yaoli includes the green stems of local ferns that we will find in the woods the next morning. They don't seem to use the fiddleheads we stalk wild here in spring. In the restaurant and the home in which we spent the night, pictures of Mao, still, dominate dining room walls. Another topic, another time.

The ceramic tile roof lines of old Yaoli town layer over brick houses, courtyard and alleys.A clean fast moving river runs through the town separates the ancient town from the newer area. Bridges connect at regular intervals. Small dams break the flow.

The villagers use the river in a controlled sequence for washing vegetables, washing clothes, and sewage so as not to affect those immediately downstream. What about furthur downstream and into the future, I wonder? After lunch and an exploratory walk around the town, we started up a dusty road toward the site of the ancient pottery, as yet unconvinced of the value of the tickets sold in town to visit the kiln and pottery sites, a feudal house, a museum and the hiking trails up through virgin pine to the spectacular Nanshan Waterfall and down through bamboo forests and tea plantations. We would find these tickets, while costly, well worth the price for our two days in Yaoli and environs.
















On to the Excavation Site of the Ancient Kilns at Raozhou

There is evidence of porcelain production here from the Song (ca. 960) to the Ming Dynasty (ca 1600). I found on line a carved celadon vase from the Raozhou kilns. Shards at the site indicate that blue and white porcelains were produced here as well.The excavated foundation of these two long dragon kilns climb up a hill creating an internal draft.













The excavated remains of clay preparation pits in the ground around which the river bends are marked with explanatory signs in Chinese and English.
















Reconstructions of the pottery plant here include a potter's wheel:

An example of how wood was stacked like a roof to keep the wood dry:














A water powered hammer mill and a horizontal wheel for grinding raw material:














We can only imagine what function this piece of equipment has...
















Not everyone shares this potter's interest in kilns and clay. Dean Huang, Huang Jinlei 黄金雷, my travel buddy, is an English teacher at the Jingdezhen Ceramics Institute. He, as a non ceramist, knows little about things clay, but is thankfully, one who has a wide-eyed interest in all things and a particular delight in refreshing mountain air hike, intrepid wanderings and cheap local travels.
Here is Dean enjoying the roar along the hike to the waterfall I will begin to write about tomorrow.