On Donghuamen Street, there is an interesting shop named Celadon Story House, which perpetuates a tradition of several millennia.
Celadon is a type of pottery with a pale green glaze, originally produced in Longquan, Zhejiang Province, China.
Longquan craftmen started to produce celadon during the Three Kingdoms and the Two Jin Dynasties. Their art became a favorite of the imperial court in the North Song Dynasty, and universally acknowledged in the South Song Dynasty. Longquan production is renowned for its silky bright green color, fluent outline, and graceful image. People refer to this production as ¡°jade-like¡± and ¡°ice-like¡±.
The Longquan kiln is the celadon kiln with the longest history and the widest influence over the industry. The wares coming out of the Ge kiln (translate: the Elder Brother¡¯s Kiln) are characterized by their wrinkles, caused by glaze cracks. Century-old historical records list this kiln as one of the top five Celadon-producing kilns. Di kiln (the Younger Brother¡¯s Kiln) was famous for producing wares of a bright green glaze, called ¡°Flower of Celadon¡±.
The modern Longquan celadon wares are recognized in China as national treasures. They are collected and displayed in national venues such as the Great Hall of the People, the Palace Museum, etc.
The Story of the Ge & Di Kilns
The story of the Zhang brothers and their kilns has been passed on from generation to generation since the Yuan Dynasty (1279~1368). As the story goes, two brothers -- the elder named Zhang Sheng the First, the younger Zhang Sheng the Second -- were skilled at porcelain making.
Although both produced wares with great reputation, the elder brother was more skillful and had a better business. One day, out of envy, the younger brother added some wood ash to the raw material of his brother¡¯s works. When the pieces were taken out of the kiln, the glaze cracked irregularly on the surface of the vessels. Unexpectedly, people liked the crackled style very much. At first ¡°accidental¡±, the crackles were later intended, as it was thought they gave the vessels a touch of classic elegance.
From then on, the vessels made by Zhang Sheng the First were called Ge (elder brother) ware, as it is known from the many specimens handed down.
The Celadon Story House is neatly decorated with a variety of nice celadon wares. The Ge wares are especially attractive. A visit to the House will be worth your time. And the legend gives us another occasion to ponder over human nature and serendipity.
A set (five pieces) of Ge kiln tea wares cost RMB 360. The prices of celadon vases range from RMB 400 to RMB 800. A celadon bowl costs about RMB 50.
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