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Southern Song Dynasty Guan Kiln Museum

Production of Chinese porcelain flourished during the Song Dynasty. The five major kilns were Guan Kiln, Ge Kiln, Ru Kiln, Ding Kiln and Jun Kiln. Guan Kiln, or the Imperial Kiln, was the leading one. It baked porcelain exclusively for the imperial court. There were the Imperial Kiln of the Northern Song and the Imperial Kiln of the Southern Song.

The Imperial Kiln of the Southern Song Dynasty was modeled on that of the Northern Song Dynasty after the imperial family moved its capital southward to Hangzhou. It was built to bake porcelain for daily use in the imperial court and for sacrificial rites.

Porcelain is a combination of craftsmanship and art. It should be an object of practical use and a work of art. A large quantity of exquisite porcelain has been unearthed from the Tiger Cave kiln site In Hangzhou City. It includes high-quality porcelain for daily use and imitations of bronze for sacrificial rites. The porcelain was glazed for both practical use and decorative purposes. In particular, some porcelain was baked as ornaments in the imperial court. To meet aesthetic requirements, much attention was paid to the beauty of glaze when porcelain was baked in the Imperial Kiln of the Southern Song Dynasty.

The Southern Song Dynasty Guan Kiln Museum is located at   the western foot of Tortoise Hill in Hangzhou,lies on the south edge of West Lake scenic spot,and covers an area of more than 15000 sq meters.With the tasteful display,substantial content and quiet and beautiful environment,it is the first special subject museum on ceramics in China.

The ground area of Southern Song Guan Kiln Museum is about 15,000 square meters, and building area is 4,364 square meters. With the continuing of the excavating and protecting work of Hangzhou's historical and cultural resources, the museum conducted a reconstruction work of its scale and exhibitions. After reconstruction, the museum fully displays the charm and specialties of Southern Song Guan Kiln, which not only represents the historical, artistic and aesthetic value of official kiln, but reflects the close relationship between Guan kiln and imperial culture of Southern Song Dynasty, as well as the social convention.
    The Southern Song Guan Museum is endowed with graceful environment, elegant display, and affluent connotation. Since its founding, it well represents and spreads the Chinese culture of ceramic, knowledge about them, and the historical countenance of Hangzhou as the ancient capital of Southern Song Dynasty. Additionally, the museum is awarded the titles of "Civilized museum in Zhejiang Province", and first batch of "Educational base of patriotism". Since 18 May of 2003, the museum is open to the public free of charge.

The Southern Song Guan Kiln,sepecially eatabished by the royal government,was a royal porcelain kiln,where skilled workmen gathered to produce celadon wares for imperial use exclusively.With its dignified and graceful shape,sparkling jadelike colour,thin body and thick glaze, Guan ware was recognized as the best among the five famous wares in the Song Dynasty and filled its own colors in Chinese ceramics history.The museum was built accoding to the architecture of the Southern Song Dynasty.It includes three parts:the protective hall of the ancient kiln site,the exhibit hall of unearthed wares and the workshop of traditional manufacture.

There are three showrooms in the museum.The first showroom shows the representative ceramics through the ages and reflects the evolving course of ancient Chinese ceramics.The second showroom makes a detailed display about the origin,establishment and development of the Southren Song Guan Kiln,the characteristics and making lechniques of the Guan ware.

There is an imitation of the ancient ceramics workshop and ceramics by themselves under the help of the master worker.

In the Southern Song Dynasty Guan Kiln Museum, there is a pottery bar with a unique style. Visitors can see for themselves how pottery was made long ago. They can also have the experience of making their own pottery, and so enter into the hardship and exhilaration that must have been the lot of people in long-ago times.

Imperial kilns of Southern Song Dynasty

Production of Chinese porcelain flourished during the Song Dynasty. The five major kilns were Guan Kiln, Ge Kiln, Ru Kiln, Ding Kiln and Jun Kiln. Guan Kiln, or the Imperial Kiln, was the leading one. It baked porcelain exclusively for the imperial court. There were the Imperial Kiln of the Northern Song and the Imperial Kiln of the Southern Song.

The Imperial Kiln of the Southern Song Dynasty was modeled on that of the Northern Song Dynasty after the imperial family moved its capital southward to Hangzhou. It was built to bake porcelain for daily use in the imperial court and for sacrificial rites.

Porcelain is a combination of craftsmanship and art. It should be an object of practical use and a work of art. A large quantity of exquisite porcelain has been unearthed from the Tiger Cave kiln site In Hangzhou City. It includes high-quality porcelain for daily use and imitations of bronze for sacrificial rites. The porcelain was glazed for both practical use and decorative purposes. In particular, some porcelain was baked as ornaments in the imperial court. To meet aesthetic requirements, much attention was paid to the beauty of glaze when porcelain was baked in the Imperial Kiln of the Southern Song Dynasty.

"The major feature was the feeling of heavy and smooth jade when glaze was applied. So the glaze needed to be thickened. The porcelain body was thinned when the glaze was thick. The thick glaze and thin body were major characteristics of porcelain baked at the Imperial Kiln of Southern Song," said Li Huibing, research fellow of Palace Museum of Beijing.

Crackles in the glaze were flaws that appeared on the surface of porcelain in the process of baking. As a unique artistic style, they were deliberately made as decorative patterns on porcelain.

"Crackles were divided into several types, including broken-ice crackles. The glaze was very thick and the body between two layers of glaze was very thin. So the glaze could show the effects of beautiful broken-ice crackles. Besides broken-ice crackles, one type was known as "gold silk and iron thread." The thick black crackles were "iron thread." The thin yellow crackles were "gold silk." In fact, they were like two nets covering the porcelain vase. This was an important feature of porcelain from the Imperial Kiln of Southern Song. It was also a symbol of overwhelming beauty." said Li Huibing, research fellow of Palace Museum of Beijing.

The porcelain baked at the Imperial Kiln of the Southern Song Dynasty was elegant and of primitive simplicity. It showed the changes in the aesthetic standards of people during the Song Dynasty. The superb Chinese porcelain has become treasures handed down from ancient times.

Admission Fee: Free of charge
Opening Hours: 8:30-16:30 ( From Tuesday to Sunday)
Guide Service: The museum provides guide, charging CNY20 every time for a group less than 15 visitors, CNY30 for a group more than 15 members.
Audio guide machine is CNY15.
Bus Route: Take bus 809 or Y3  (Tourism Bus Line 3) and alight at Ba Gua Tian Station. 
Take bus 39, 308 and alight at Shui Cheng Qiao Station. Then walk a bit westwards.
Take bus 20 and alight at Tao Ci Pin Shi Chang (Ceramics Market) Station.

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