We went to the Terracotta Warrior site at Xi’an with a holiday tour guide who offered us a workshop visit first so that we could see how they were made. These visits are generally little more than selling opportunities but we went along with it. We were glad we did because although we were hassled to get to the shop as soon as possible, the workshop was real and the on site guide was prepared to talk about processes (she was amused by me trying the clay between my teeth). I couldn’t get to the back of the kiln or see over the corrugated iron to make out the type of kiln. It can’t extend very far backwards because there is a lane no more than 30ft away. My guess is a Mantou-type cross-draught kiln (with the chimney hidden by the iron but poking out a bit above the left hand door).
These two potters were packing the left hand side and tolerating the tourists.
Note the fresh clay repairs around the doors.

What a beautiful pack. Some of the visitors thought, I think, that this was all for show. Not at all. This is a really professional job. The pieces are semi-dry which hasn’t helped the big one at bottom right. Presumably they use a long slow warm up. The guide said firing took a week.

No that is not me. I have no idea who he is.
I wasn’t too clear about the firebox arrangement. These two photos give some idea of the arrangement. There is a large pit externally and a smaller one inside the door. The layout is exactly like a Mantou kiln (see previous blog post) with an open fuel area between the door and the ware except for the inner pit. Mantous are usually wood fired and the fuel can burn directly on the ground. Here they are definitely using coal and say that that is what the original potters did. I asked the pottery guide if the were firebars to go over the inner pit and she said there were but I was not sure that she understood the question. The outer pit is for the ash and coals she said. Some research needed.
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