Print this page

Pius Notter (2)


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

The blue glazed pots shown in this article hold a little pottery secret. Nearly all the Chinese blue glazes have a low viscosity which can be seen as there are glaze drips around the pot. If the glaze is applied too heavily it flows or drips off and might drip onto the pot 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. If you take a closer look the reason becomes obvious. It is as simple as ingenious. Almost ninety percent of the blue glazed pots are decorated with floral or figurative patterns, and therein lies the secret.

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 own experiments with a glaze of higher viscosity showed that images sculptured on the pot disappeared more or less beneath the glaze. Unfortunately many of the Chinese glaze and pottery secrets have been forgotten in the times of the industrialized production.

The pot shown here is a beautiful example for this glazing technique. The pot is decorated abundantly with human and floral symbols. On the front side there are five philosophers or dignitaries, three of them playing a game of dice at a stone table. The side and back views show floral patterns with butterflies. Each of the displayed plants has a special significance. Size of the pot: 62 cm x 30 cm x 22 cm.

Peter Krebs

This pot is from the bonsai pot museum of PIUS NOTTER, Switzerland (see also “Museum Notter”)
Photographs: Pius Notter

Translation: Heike van Gunst

Previous page: Pius Notter (1)
Next page: Pius Notter (4)