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Artists revive forgotten techniques
Time: 02 21,2020      Source: China Daily

Visitors take photos of a fahua pot on exhibit at the fourth Shanxi Cultural Industry Expo.

Fahua, whose techniques used for decorating color-glazed porcelain had been lost for more than 300 years, has been brought back to life by innovative craftsmen in Shanxi province.

The term fahua refers to Chinese porcelain wares with bold, deep blue decoration and glazes in turquoise, purple, green, yellow and white. Fahua wares are regarded as the ceramic versions of cloisonné, where the design elements are separated by copper wires.

Porcelain featuring these techniques is fired at lower temperatures with the different colored glazes and enamels applied to individual areas created by the slip lines.

At an exhibition during the fourth Shanxi Cultural Industry Expo held in Taiyuan in December, visitors got an up-close look at fahua wares created by local craftsmen.

A featured exhibit was a fahua pot decorated with egrets at a lotus pond, designed and fired by Zhang Yongyong.

A visitor named Deng Hongxia said she was astonished by the beauty and intricacies of the work.

"The gem-blue color is the most impressive. It's so deep blue that it gives a sense of remote antiquity,"Deng said.

The fahua techniques have been revived from those that had been lost for about 300 years, Zhang said, adding that it is the result of a decade of hard work.

Zhang and his research team began to study the fahua techniques in 2005, after becoming obsessed with fahua wares on the antique market in Changzhi, Shanxi province.

After studying historical documents, Zhang learned that the porcelain ware is a homonym of religious solemnity used in Buddhist ceremonies.

Zhang and his colleagues visited many museums and libraries, and talked with many elder craftsmen in the process of their research.

He learned about the firing process and the application of colored glazes in different areas separated by raised slip lines-the most difficult of the fahua techniques.

"We had more than 10,000 tests and trials for the technique before we successfully made one in 2017,"Zhang said.

Zhang's team can now apply more than 50 colors to fahua wares.

Zhen Guomin, 67, is another craftsman contributing to the revival of the techniques.

He began studying fahua in 2003.

Like Zhang, Zhen also discovered the secrets in the coloring process. He used the raised slip lines to inhibit enamels of different colors from flowing into each other.

Zhen and his son Zhen Shiqiang, who is a member of his team, have been named master inheritors of the intangible cultural heritage in Shanxi by the provincial government.

"Instead of inheritors, we are actually innovators in intangible cultural assets. Innovation can play a big role in preserving and reviving historical heritage," said Zhen, the father.



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