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A Little Treasure Chest 4

By the time that China had already mastered the production of porcelain, the rest of the world was still desperately searching for the ARCANUM (encyclopaedia: secret, secret power, nostrum) of its production. It wasn't until 1709 that Johann Friedrich Böttger should finally discover its secret in Meißen, Germany, via the detour of attempting to convert metal to gold. In march 28 of 1709, Böttger reported to his king that he had succeeded in creating real porcelain. Again, this discovery was kept secret; but even the best kept secrets will be revealed over time. The magic word was Kaolin, and it was the specific composition of the material that kept it a secret for so long.

The main components of the porcelain base material are kaolin (named after the Chinese mountain Kao'ling or Kauling), quartz and feldspar (also called Petuntse, after the Chinese “Pai Tuntse”, which means small white leaves). The porcelain mixture consists of about 50% kaolin, 25% quartz and 25% feldspar.

Although the pots shown here in the Treasure Chest are not that old, their recipe (no longer a secret) is still the same as in ancient times (Porcelain was discovered by Chinese potters around the turn of the 9th to the 10th century).

Pots to dream about.

Already during the Chinese Song and Yuan dynasty and also later during the Qing dynasty, porcelain pots were made that looked very similar to today's bonsai pots, with just one difference: they had no drainage holes.

The reason was that they were used to plant flower bulbs. Gravel or coarse sand was used as bottom layer, then a finer layer of gravel was filled in. Into this layer the bulbs were planted which traditionally flowered around the time of Chinese New Year to welcome the season of spring.

Size: 21 cm x 14,5 cm x 6,8 cm


Size: 23,7 cm x 21 cm x 6,4 cm


Size: Durchmesser 28 cm x 4,8 cm hoch


Size: 26 cm x 13 cm x 5,1 cm


All pots presented here are from the collection of Paul Lesniewicz.

Text and photographs: Peter Krebs
Translation: Heike van Gunst