Ceramics are a huge part of traditional Chinese culture and they are highly valued by many countries ever since the Song dynasty.
Chen Mingliang (陳明良) is a ceramic sculptor who has been in the business since he was 16 years old.
For 40 years, he has been focusing on Dehua ceramics (德化陶瓷), a type of porcelain made in Dehua, within the Fujian province.
“Dehua ceramic is best known for its white colors, like jade white, lard white and ivory white,” Chen explained, “The good quality ones are mild, gentle and glossy.”
He revealed that his craft dates back to the Song and Yuan dynasties, where they made ceramic utensils in Dehua.
However, it was only during the Ming dynasty that “a great artisan named He Chaozong (何朝宗) started making religious figures with his outstanding talents,” Chen said.
Chen further revealed that making Dehua ceramics are not easy.
“It is extremely hard to control heat during the process of firing,” he said, explaining that “The firing is usually 15 hours, and it needs to stay in the kiln for three days.”
“The firing temperature is usually above 1,300 degrees Celsius,” he added.
Chen also noted that smaller pieces have a success rate of 50 percent, while bigger pieces that are over 50 centimeters tall only have a success rate of 10 percent.
“We need to check carefully because the corners and edges easily crack,” Chen revealed.
The difficulties and challenges come from the small details, so it’s important to make sure everything is really carefully done while not making any mistakes.
Nevertheless, Chen’s goal is to make every single piece perfect.