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Chen Lu Pottery

The Potters of Chen Lu

Chen Lu village is located in the city of Tongchuan City of Shaanxi Province, it is in the southeast of the urban area of 20 kilometers.  There are over two communities, 18 administrative villages, 68 groups of villagers, the town has a total area of 99.7 square km, population is 1.98 million. Chen Lu village is a porcelain town of 1,400 years of history, is the Song and Yuan dynasties continued production of the famous ancient Yaozhou only kilns. Chen furnace is famous for "oven display", and gradually developed into Shaanxi the largest and most important production base of the ceramic kilns and Porcelain ,even in northwestern area.
   For thousands of years, Chen Lu village still is a prosperous town, do not put out the fire, which is unprecedented in the history of Chinese ceramics, called "Oriental living fossil of Pottery Production ", and has the "Oriental porcelain town" reputation, It is the unique ceramic town in culture and are towns that are named by Shaaxi province.
   Chen Lu Village has beautiful landscape, scenic, ceramic culture has a long history and deeply rooted in the ancient human heritage atmosphere, and is an ancient county with the official set of ceramic production, trade exchanges, cultural tourism destination. According to records that "Tao Field is 3 miles from south to north, five miles from west to east, fire smells , bright night," the so-called "thousands of fireworks fans depressed" to "Furnace Hill's night" in the world as is one of the Eight officer interests . Chen furnace porcelain with simple vigorous, rich folk flavor known to the world, and become a magnificent porcelain Art Gallery in the wonderful work of China. The local people were honest, kind, intelligent, ceramic culture permeates in each aspect of life, casts mystery of mixing by Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism.

 Locals joke that Chen Lu "eats pottery," and while this may be fiction, walls are made of ceramic urns rather than bricks. Elegant cups that would fetch tidy sums in Xi'an lie by the side of the road. No fewer than 17 small factories turn out different styles of pottery, ranging from the sleek black heiyou to the rusty shades of tiexiu hua and the blues and whites of qing hua. It's an old-fashioned town: People call each other "comrade" (tongzhi) without the overtone of homosexuality that it now usually bears in urban China, wear Lei Feng hats with thick tops and earflaps without irony, and offer cigarettes on reflex when they meet a stranger.

If you visit on a day trip, it's doubtful you'll have time to explore all the factories and shops. The best bargains are found in the factory showrooms, where the starting prices will have you offering more money, but you're more likely to come across original works in the houses of individual artisans. The main factory, Chen Lu Taoci Chang (tel. 0919/748-3343), has an exhibition of antique ceramics, including Tang dynasty moxibustion cups, hat canisters from the Yuan dynasty, and ceramic pillows -- still used by villagers today! Visit the exhibition before going on a spending spree, as staff can advise you on which factories make which kinds of pottery. Exquisite bowls in qing hua style cost as little as ¥10 ($1.30/65p), while original works are considerably more expensive. Individual artisans are proud to display their wares and may hail you in the street. Xu Kuaile (tel. 0919/748-2235) is a well-known local artisan.

The guesthouse at Chen Lu isn't someplace you'd willingly reside and given the town's proximity to Xi'an there's no need to stay. But in this relaxed town, you won't be short on offers to stay and dine with the villagers, whose houses often have domed roofs in the manner of pottery kilns. Before you agree, check what sort of headrest your host has in mind. Ceramic pillows take some getting used to.

Chen Lu is a 1 1/2-hour drive from Xi'an, but most tour agencies will look blank when you mention it. A taxi should cost no more than ¥300 ($39/£20) for the round-trip. Air-conditioned buses depart for Tongchuan (100km/62 miles; 1 1/2 hr.; ¥23/$2.95/£1.45) from the main bus station every 15 minutes from 6:30am to 9pm. In Tongchuan, continue north to the first roundabout for 630m (2,066 ft.), or catch bus no. 8 to the roundabout at Yigu Liangzhan. From south of the roundabout, white minivans leave when full for Chen Lu (18km/11 miles; 40 min.; ¥3/40¢/20p).