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Ancient kiln replica gets fired up in China's porcelain capital

( English.news.cn )

Updated: 2011-10-25

NANCHANG: Ceramicists in Jingdezhen said they have successfully produced porcelain goods using a replica of an ancient kiln, marking China's porcelain capital's latest attempt to revive outdated ceramic-making practices.

More than 200 porcelain goods were displayed Sunday after baking for nearly a day in the newly-built Mantou Kiln in Jingdezhen, a city in the eastern province of Jiangxi which boasts a 1,700-year history of producing fine pottery.

The firing proved successful, said Huang Maijiu, a state-recognized Master of Fine Arts, as the color and sheen of the porcelainwares matched artifacts made 800 years ago in the same type of kiln.

Mantou Kilns, meaning "Steamed Bun-Shaped Kilns," were widely used in Jingdezhen during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) but were replaced by the larger Hulu Kilns, or "Gourd-Shaped Kilns," in later dynasties, Huang said.

There have been no working Mantou Kilns in modern eras, but local archaeologists in May decided to build a new kiln based on two ancient Mantou Kilns in the city.

"Mantou Kilns figure prominently in the history of Jingdezhen, with many priceless celadons from the Yuan Dynasty originating from the kilns," said Zhou Ronglin, deputy of Jingdezhen's Ancient Kiln Park.

"By firing the ancient style of kiln, we can better inherit and preserve techniques like kiln-building and ceramic-firing," Zhou said.

The new kiln is designed to cover 238 square meters, with a 2.6-meter-high furnace. In accordance with ancient practices, the kiln is heated by burning pine wood.

However, the replica is not the first ancient-style kiln to be fired in recent years. In 2009, Jingdezhen rekindled a 300-year-old wood-fired ceramic kiln, the largest of its kind. Last year the city successfully fired a replica Hulu Kiln, a style of kiln that dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

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