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Blue Decorated Pots 3

Blue Decorated Pots 3


Cantonese pots (China) are famous for their blue and green glazes. These potteries are located in Kuangchou in the province of Kwang-tung.





These pots are blue decorated pots, like in the previous articles (“Blue decorated Pots 1 and 2”). The glazes have a low viscosity, as can be seen from the many glaze drips around the pots. If the glaze is applied too heavily it flows or drips off during the firing process or might spoil the pots standing below in the kiln.





Of course it would have been easy for the chinese potters to change this. There must have been a reason why they took the risk of using a glaze that flowed off so easily. On nearly all of these pots you can discover traces where the surplus of dripped off glaze has been polished away. It is interesting to explore these pots with these questions in mind. 




The secret of the low viscosity glazes can easily be disclosed at a close look. It is as simple as ingenious. Almost all of the blue glazed pots are decorated with floral or figurative patterns – and this is the reason.





A glaze with a low viscosity flows off at edges, gouges or sculptured ridges. This effect leads to a varying thickness of the glaze. Where it has flown off it looks light and sometimes transparent so that the white clay underneath is showing. In places where more glaze is concentrated it looks dark blue. This effect creates a three-dimensional image. My attempts with a glaze of higher viscosity showed that images sculptured on the pot disappeared partly or totally beneath the glaze.



Unfortunately many of the chinese glaze and pottery secrets have been forgotten during the industrialization.




All the pots in this article are produced in a series or mass production. They are a little asymmetrical, the walls of differing thickness and a bit contorted from being stapled while drying and being fired. The first impression is that they are almost rough. But in comparison with today's perfect, automated mass production they have an inimitable air, even a special beauty. Every pot is unique in its shape and glaze, no matter how many have been produced. This is one of the secrets of pot aesthetics which are still valid today. 

An example for how the three-dimensionality of the pattern almost disappears when a thick, opaque glaze is used. Photograph by Maximilian Engels.


Peter Krebs

Special thanks to BONSAI ART for providing the photopraphs.

Translation: Heike van Gunst

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