Black glazed censer, Deqing ware, Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420), the Zhejiang Provincial Museum collection [Photo/zjmuex.com]
Potters in a village of Nyishar township in the mostly Tibetan-inhabited city of Shangri-La, Southwest China’s Yunnan province, are still utilizing the techniques of their ancient forefathers to make black pottery.
They squeeze and knead lumps of clay into different shapes, and then put all the pieces together to make a wide variety of ceramics with traditional wooden tools.
The art of firing black pottery, a national-level intangible cultural heritage, has now become a draw for tourists and an engine for the local economy.
Fifty-year-old Tamdrin Bichu, an inheritor of the time-honored pottery-making techniques, has been busy making black pottery wares, as well as providing an authentic black pottery experience to visitors from all over the world.
Various black pottery wares, from cups to pots, are displayed in his workshop, where he said he has received about 2,000 guests this year despite the COVID-19 epidemic.
Orders from across the country and even abroad have also reached this humble village.
There are more than 160 households in the village, and about 120 people from over 90 families are now engaged in the production of black pottery, said Li Zhao, deputy head of the township government.
Tamdrin Bichu’s 28-year-old son Larong Shoba followed his father’s footsteps in becoming an artisan after graduating from university.
Young, ambitious and creative, Larong Shoba built a team of eight to manage a workshop and open a black-pottery-themed cafe.
He now plans to include more traditional handicraft skills in his itineraries for tourists.
“We are trying to use local papermaking skills to produce packaging for our black pottery,” Larong Shoba said, adding that these local products share similar characteristics and cultural backgrounds, making them a perfect match.