Archaeological Discoveries
in 2001
Archaeological Discoveries
in 2000
Top Ten Archaeological Finds
for 1999
Archaeological Discoveries
in 1999

Discovery of Tang Porcelain Kiln
in Jiangxi Province

  A porcelain kiln and blue porcelain ware recently discovered and excavated at the Hongzhou kiln site at Fengcheng (618-907) in Jiangxi Province provide evidence that the area was the cradle of China's porcelain production.

   Fengcheng is a key cultural relic unit under state protection. The excavation work is being carried out by a group of archaeologists from the Institute of Cultural and Historical Relics and Archaeology of Jiangxi Province and the Department of Archaeology of Beijing University.

   The new discoveries can be dated back to the first century or the fourth century (during the Eastern Han, the Three Kingdoms and the Western Jin periods.) A great deal of Western Jin (265-316) saggars and high quality porcelain wares unearthed from the site move back the earliest date for using saggars for porcelain making from the fifth century (the Southern Dynasty) to the third century (Western Jin). The use of saggars for porcelain production was a Chinese invention.

   The Hongzhou kiln was one of the six leading kilns during the Tang period. The kiln has been surveyed three times, with 27 rectangular units being dug and an area of 568 square meters disclosed. A total of 11,985 pieces of various kiln tools and blue porcelain articles was unearthed. Five kilns built in the Sui and Tang periods were also disclosed. The best preserved two of them are kept under protection.

   The unearthed articles and objects include blue porcelain jars, bowls, cups, basins, inkstones, big and small cups, dou (stemmed bowls), incense burners, broad-mouthed pots, dishes and seven-in-one basins, all of fine quality, and brightly and smoothly glazed. A blue round ink-stone with two water holders is the most valuable object unearthed. The skills of under glazed relief decoration, incised patterns and embossed decoration used on the blue porcelain wares of the Hongzhou kiln are unique and extraordinary. The pattern designs were those popular during the Tang period.

   The diversified variety of products, with unique models, and well-balanced and exquisite patterns and decorations, shows that Hongzhou porcelain had reached a new technical height during the Tang Dynasty. The shapes of the saggars of various periods show obvious differences. They prove that the kiln used the saggar technique not later than the Western Jin period, pushing the time back a long way.

   Through surveys and excavations, the site of the Hongzhou kiln was found to have been a large one. About 20 ancient porcelain kilns are widely distributed in the five townships and 18 villages under the jurisdiction of Fengcheng City, being linked up as a whole by the Ganjiang River.