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Shandong’s Yinan: Handcrafted “Animal Fat Ancient Pottery”

YINAN, China

YINAN, China, June 12, 2024 /Xinhua-AsiaNet/–

The craftsmanship of Animal Fat Ancient Pottery represents a cherished legacy of Dongyi culture, known for its everlasting color, solidness and durability. Crafted using a unique clay sourced from Tongjing Town in Yinan County, the firing process ignites spontaneously, resulting in a pristine black finish. This pottery boasts exceptional strength, resistance to corrosion, and resilience against frost without any peeling.

Image: Yinan “Animal Fat Ancient Pottery”

Integral to Dongyi culture, Animal Fat Ancient Pottery flourished during the Xia Dynasty before waning during the Shang Dynasty. Originating from a serendipitous discovery, Dongyi people used to mix leftover animal fat with clay to create vessels for holding water. One day, a vessel accidentally fell into a fire pit and after being heated for a while, a shiny black pottery emerged, giving birth to the world’s first black pottery.

Yu Wanfa, a folk artist of Xiwanggou Village, Tongjing Town, Yinan County, is dedicated to exploring and studying the unique traditional craft of “Animal Fat Ancient Pottery”. Recognizing the profound significance of safeguarding this ancestral legacy, Yu passionately delves into its study and practice. For generations preceding the Ming Dynasty, his family had sustained their livelihood through producing animal fat ancient potteries, which has been handed down as a family tradition. Following his grandfather’s footsteps, Yu has been studying pottery making for 17 years since 2007 and is now the sole inheritor of the craft in the family.

To better preserve and pass on the tradition of “Animal Fat Ancient Pottery”, Yu established the Guquan Kiln Factory in Zhuquan Village Resort with the help of Yinan County government. After years of excavation and restoration, he has restored the craftsmanship of traditional Animal Fat Ancient Pottery items like hen-shaped pot, chicken-shaped pot, hexagonal plate, and animal-shaped tomb guardian that had been lost for many years. Additionally, he has developed over 100 varieties of craftwork including hollowing and carving techniques.

Source: Information Office of Yinan County People's Government