search  current discussion  categories  kilns & firing - misc 

hong kong kiln guardian legends (was fan sin kung)

updated mon 17 jul 06


Martie (aka the Kiln Priestess) on sun 16 jul 06

Hello May:

Sorry that my reply to your posting last week about Hong Kong and kiln
gods is so slow in coming, but I replied to you on Clayart and it was not
posted because I changed the subject title and I must of gotten filtered
out of the system again. I am trying a heading without the word kiln god
and I hope that it works. Anyway . . .

It was wonderful to =93hear=94 your voice on Clayart and to be introduced to=
different way of thinking about choosing not only a firing temperature,
but a related method of achieving it. It is very kind of you to share your
personal method of firing with everyone. This type of exchange between
people across the globe helps to remind us that there are many ways of
approaching the way we work in clay.

May, I am very intrigued by your use of personal =93lucky numbers=94 to
calculate the firing conditions of your work. I know that there are many
ways for a person to find their Gua (Kua) number for building their lucky
number system, but I have never tried either, I-Ching, or, as it is known
to Western people, Geomancy. Nowadays people can even consult an Internet
Master to calculate their personal feng shui chart, which reports not only
a person=92s Gua number but also explains their 4 good and 4 bad directions
and the element that they belong to. This can apparently be accomplished
with just the knowledge of a person=92s birth date, however, a more accurate=

analysis for revealing someone=92s Pillars of Destiny requires knowing the
year, month, day, and hour of that individual=92s birth. I think that this
mixing together of feng shui divination (from Taoist traditions) and the
study of I-Ching is a pretty modern development. I also think that this
kind of popularization of these ancient Chinese traditions has also
resulted in the current craze of feng shui books and interior design
schemes with Asian themes. I know that it is a popular practice in Hong
Kong to consult a Master Geomancer before designing buildings or private
dwellings so that important decisions can be made about the placement of
entry ways and other features that will impact on the feng shui or chi of
the structure.

I have been collecting Chinese legends about ceramics from books in
libraries, the Internet and actual temple sites, and my husband, Shui Kong
Ho, has been helping me to translate stories and other materials when he
has the time. He is a painter and he is also a University Fellow at the
Academy of Visual Arts, HKBU with me this summer. Because he went to a
Catholic school in Hong Kong that also had him study British history he is
now interested in studying traditional Chinese beliefs and history. The
symbolism in his abstract paintings acknowledges his Chinese heritage and
he explores many of the concepts that are pivotal to Chinese philosophy in
his work.

I do not know the legend about where or how the Dragon Kiln came about,
but I would very much like to learn it. I think that many other Clayart
readers would also be interested in knowing this story. Would you mind
positing it to the list? If you do not want to explain this story in a
public format, I would also appreciate reading about it via private E-
mail. Also, if you have the computer software you could type the story out
in Chinese and send it to my regular E-mail address. Even a faxed hand-
written story in English or Chinese would be welcome. (English is of
course easier for me to understand and Kong does not need to help me
translate things.)

May, if you would like for me to send you any information on the Chinese
kiln god legends that I have collected, please let me know. The kiln deity
that I know the most about is Feng Huo Hsien (Genius of the Fire Blast)
from Jingdezhen because I wrote my dissertation about his legend and how
it can be traced through Western literature back to China.(The work that I
did is more complicated than that, I am just expressing the condensed
version of my work here.)

Thank you again for making me think more deeply about the importance of
approaching and appreciating ceramics from other perspectives. Also, thank
you for the suggestion of where to send my article.

Best of luck,