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Appreciation of Pottery

Yixing pottery is the earliest kind in the field of pottery and porcelain in this pottery city. It is famous around the world for its grandness and beauty and good for practical use and decoration. Mr. Guo Moruo, a great writer, made an interpretation and compliment on pottery in his prose The Moon Over the West River .The earth is source of life and the pottery is made and decorated by human. The combination of earth and human work, the mutual function of yin and yang which are the two opposing principles in the nature, the harmonious composition of five elements of water, fire, wood and metal, and the symphony of five musical notes form a coverall pottery world.

Yixing pottery which is a long-history folk art is made of plentiful mineral resources. The pottery is decorated with thumb decals and glazed with colors on its surface and then treated under temperature of 1250 degrees Celsius. It gives pleasant sound with tapping and resists freezing and the sunshine, with an advantage of being the big decoration. Yixing pottery, an artistic combination of the two elements, fire and earth, had different styles in different dynasties with various shapes and wonderful artistic excelling nature. The collection of pottery which had started since the ancient times can cultivate people soul and character. Usually, pottery art is formed with three elements of shapes, decorations and glaze colors but Yixing pottery displays its special beauty for its unique thumb-decal decorations.

The ways to appreciate Yixing potteries:
The shapes of pottery can be round, square, elliptical, rectangle, sunflower, octagonal, hexagon, drawn angles, and even fine shapes and various shapes.

The round shapes fall into vertically straight and arc, long, short, thick and thin. Any shapes must be made with smooth edges evenly distributed, full of pure manual work and unsophisticated look, and visually pleasing to both the eye and the mind by its spirit, flavor and appearance. Except the body of pottery, the forms of mouth edge are also various. There are flat edge, bulgy round edge, evaginated edge, introversive edge, variform edge, pointed edge, outer-circle edge, trumpet edge and the mouth edge with two standing horns just like Chinese censers. The quality of crafts is defined by the appropriate thickness and smoothness of lines, the handle with hands and the whole appearance of shapes. In a word, the works must give a pleasant impression.

The shapes of pottery fall in those of round, square, elliptical, rectangle, sunflower, octagonal, hexagon, drawn angles, and even fine shapes and various shapes. The shapes must be made in the right length and balanced as a whole with natural turning at the edges. The potteries should look reserved but firmed and balanced in shapes without crack and distortion. The huge potteries made by manual inlaying must look magnificent and give the sound like that of copper bell when knocked. The ones which give echoes like that from the crocks are fake potteries.

Annotation: the huge potteries refer to the jars with the mouth in the diameter of 1.2 meters and the height of 1.5 meters.

II. Decal Decorations
With our thumbs as the brush, clay as the ink and the rough work as the paper for painting, the methods are called thumb clay painting. The skills include pinching, twisting, twiddling, snapping, tearing, decal, piling, spreading, pulling and pressing which can produce various pictures. The quality of pictures is defined by the thumb skills, layout of pictures and the artistic conception.

There are several ways on how to define the quality of crafts with thumbs. The first is the ability to well lay out the clay on the rough works with thumbs to make an effect of jade flavor and clay charm. Next is the ability to tear the clay off the rough works in one-off force with thumbs to achieve the effect like Chinese brush painting of the parched, dense, strong, light and clear colors. They look exaggerated and elegant and show a character thumb painting. The third is the ability to twist the clay into the thickness like a hair to make decal lines.

The decal is a kind of special thumb skills and can make an artistic effect which is not found in the other kinds of art. The feather, the cloud and the petals made by decal look particularly vivid and natural, with smooth shape.

The way to appreciate the layout of picture: (1) completely covered with decorations; (2) traditional folk auspicious pictures.(3) the pictures like Chinese paintings; (4) clay in folk artistic style made with thumbs.

The way to appreciate artistic conceptions: special character for the themes from life, abstract and exaggerated.

III. galzed colors
1. Yixing potteries are glazed but its glazed colors are different from that of other potteries and porcelains. The special texture of the colors can make a visual visional impact. Therefore, the variety of glaze is quite important to the pottery and only the proper thickness of glaze can be good decorations for integrating with the pictures.

2. The glaze in the kiln make different effects and give the vitality to the pictures. Sometimes the glaze may change unexpectedly in the kiln and bring about the unique and magnificent works. Because the change is not under man control, such unexpected magnificent effect is even said to be achieved by God is work, called as a natural achievement.

3. Glaze can be a supplement to the shape of pottery by improving the appearance and perfecting the shape of the pottery.

4. Glaze still remains polished and will never be dusty even after many years.

IV. Stamp
The style of stamps has experienced many changes in history and to know about the different styles is helpful for understanding the origin and class of works. The ancient potteries were often simply stamped to represent the makers but the modern potteries are often formally stamped and treated in the kiln. For example, all the potteries made by our research institute are stamped with Pottery Research Institute under which is the maker name stamp, meaning who has made it. Usually the famous works are stamped with not only calligraphic stamps but also the makers own signature with brush to avoid being imitated.

The shape, decal decorations and glaze colors cause a close contact between man and pottery and nature and show a close relationship between man and nature. They reveal not only the deep cultural conception hidden in the pottery but also people yearning for cultural artistic activities. From these elements of pottery we can find people pleasant pursuit and longing for a harmonious life.

People aesthetic taste falls in their pursuit for the union and communication between man and nature. The beauty of nature is the highest level for art and the pottery is the result of the integration of man and clay, clay and fire, so it can be considered to be wonderfully made from the nature and it is what the writer works for in his life. Although there is manual mark, the pottery also looks like the fruit of nature and indicate the highest level of integration of man and nature in Chinese old traditional culture.

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