For centuries China has been producing various types of porcelain from local forms of clay and earth using special craft techniques. These include celadon, glazed in many shades of green and blue, which reflects the deep green landscapes and blue sky of the province of Zhejiang in southeastern China. This jade-like porcelain and the skills of its creators is the subject of the exhibition ‘Spotlight on Celadon’ organized by the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich together with the curator Anette Mertens (Berlin), which is now coming to Munich.
Zhejiang has been known for its celadon porcelain since at least the 9th century. The city of Longquan in the southwest region of the province developed early on to become a centre of this sophisticated craft, where the complex knowhow was passed on within individual families from generation to generation.
Longquan celadon had its first heyday from the 11th to the 14th centuries: it was collected by emperors and was exported all over the world. By the end of the 19th century the technique of producing it had largely been forgotten. It was not until the 1950s that the craft was revived through the establishment of state factories. A new generation of young ceramic artists, which now also includes women, came into being. With the economic transformation in the 1990s, many of them established their own private workshops. At the same time they mastered the transition from wood to gas firing. With their top-class celadon glazes, some of these artists have become nationally recognized master craftsmen and women, and the craft is now also on UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage list and additionally protected by the Chinese National Administration of Cultural Heritage.
The exhibition looks at the history, technology and knowhow of the craft in the celadon metropolis Longquan and presents masterpieces by eighteen master craftsmen and women. It also describes the frame of reference used by this community of ceramic artists to evaluate their remarkable celadon glazes.
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