CHINA: SHANGHAI MUSEUM – POTTER’S WHEELS

I posted on the Shanghai Museum’s displays a while ago, talking about the reconstructions of pottery kiln’s. The ceramics galleries include three large partial reconstructions of kilns including a Dragon kiln and a Mantou kiln (see my earlier posts on them – Dragon Kiln and Mantou Kiln). The dragon is illuminated inside with flickering red lights and attracts the selfie-brigade. Alongside them a gallery houses a collection of objects and furnishings from a potter’s workshop including a number for momentum wheels. Although the kilns are presented as representations of historical artefacts, in practice the materials and the majority of the objects used in the workshop display are contemporary and the impression is of a celebration of tradition. The wheels are set up in concrete pits in the floor and the space is designed to be used for demonstrations.

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Potter’s workshop. Shanghai Museum. 2014

The workshop area was roped off and full of dry or drying raw pots and evidently had been in use recently. The stacked up benches on the wheels made understanding the space a little difficult. There are various interesting details. The stave-built wooden buckets and tubs are very elegant. I would like to know more about the adaptations to the wheel heads. The raised centres obviously elevate the work relative to the potter’s seating position but what other advantages are there. what The tall wooden cone on the wheel at the bottom is curious. Small shapes are often ‘thrown off the hump’ – centring a very large piece of clay and throwing small vessels using just the top of it – but the clay doesn’t need a solid core. Is it perhaps to do with turning the footings on bowls and cups?

Momentum potter's wheels. Shanghai Museum. 2014

Momentum potter’s wheels. Shanghai Museum. 2014

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