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Art master revives and spreads ancient porcelain culture

(ezhejiang.gov.cn) Updated : 2018-12-11

Editor's note: East China's Zhejiang province is renowned for its large international population. Aloft on the wings of China's reform and opening-up policy, a group of Zhejiang people have gone abroad to make a living since the 1970s. As this year marks the 40th anniversary of the policy, the Zhejiang website (www.ezhejiang.gov.cn) is launching a series of stories about overseas Chinese who are originally from Zhejiang, as well as those who are active in the province's development. Stories courtesy of Zhejiang Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese and Zheshang Magazine


Ye works on a porcelain artwork. [Photo/Zheshang Magazine]

The techniques for making porcelain in Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) guan kilns were once thought to have been lost. Fortunately, Ye Guozhen, an art master based in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, has brought back many of the ancient methods after decades of research.

Representing the peak of ancient Chinese art, the Southern Song Dynasty porcelain excelled in aesthetics and technique and had a high reputation in the world's porcelain culture.

At that time, techniques of making porcelain were kept secret by the authorities, so after the downfall of the dynasty, nearly all the information concerning raw materials, recipes, and molding and calcining techniques were nowhere to be found.

Ye's story with Southern Song Dynasty porcelain started from delving into the purple soil rich in iron that can be found around the original kiln sites in 1966 when he was 18.

After thousands of experiments, in 1978, Ye successfully replicated the quality and highly aesthetic Song kiln porcelain products, receiving numerous appreciative comments from experts and winning him several national and provincial awards.

The Zhejiang provincial government has recognized his techniques as intangible cultural heritage.

In addition to reviving the ancient techniques, Ye has also devoted himself to promoting Chinese porcelain culture abroad. Over the past years, the master has organized exhibitions of his artworks in more than 30 countries and regions including Japan, the United States and France.

"China's reform and opening-up policy made it possible for traditional culture to be showcased on global stage," Ye said. His porcelain products are serving to pull cultural ties between China and the outside world much closer.

In the future, Ye plans to build an international cultural park themed on Southern Song Dynasty porcelain in the hope of attracting more international people to savor the charm of Chinese porcelain culture.


Ye's replicated porcelain artifacts from the Southern Song Dynasty. [Photo/China Daily]