Foshan Nanfeng Kiln & Shiwan Chinese Figurines

Feb 8th, 2011 | By | Category: Bonsai Figurines, Featured Articles

Shiwan has been known for its beautiful earthenware figurines for hundreds of years. Indeed, the term “Shiwan figurine” is widely used to refer to all sculptures made in Shiwan. While many fans of Shiwan figurines are bonsai lovers who enjoy decorating their bonsai trees with Chinese figurines, others simply love collecting these beautiful artworks, admire the fine, lively details of these handmade figurines.

Last year, with other bonsai lovers, we went to the ancient Nanfeng Kiln – the oldest kiln in China. Here is where the pottery art of Fochan began. The history of the kiln can be tracked back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It is just amazing that this ancient kiln still can operate perfectly.

In Nanfeng Kiln, besides the ancient kiln, watching the process of making pottery and figurines is very interesting as well. Below is a video I took of Nanfeng Kiln’s guest figurine artist – Mr Huo Wei Sheng – when the figurine craftsman was making figurines of the eight immortals.

Unlike many modern kilns that have become very sophisticated and can be calibrated to meet very specific temperatures, in Nanfeng Kiln, the traditional pottery making techniques live on. Timbers are put into the kiln and the temperature can reach up to 1,300 degrees Celsius. Temperature control is especially important when baking figurines and pots.

Instead of depending on modern day’s instruments, temperature is controlled by the skilled artisans according to their experience. Due to the inconstancy of temperature in the timber-burning kiln, it is interesting to see how all figurines and pots are made unique even though they all are bring into and out of the kiln at the same time.

For more photos, please visit the album of Ancient Nanfeng Kiln – Shiwan Chinese figurines in Happy Bonsai Gallery.

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