Today we visited a pottery showroom in Qinzhou. Qinzhou is apparently famous for Nixing pottery, which is one of the four most famous forms of pottery in China -- the oldest known pot of this form is from 618 AD. This place was amazing! Maddy's foster parents took us, and nobody was around when we arrived. We looked into the workrooms a little and got some great pictures of where things were made. Foster-Mom and our guide wandered into buildings yelling for help, and managed to flush somebody with a key who opened up the showroom. The first thing you see is a bunch of pots with plaques and certificates on them. And the pots were fabulous. They're made from local clay which has various nice properties: non-toxicity (always a plus), resilience to strong acids and bases, and some peculiarities with respect to keeping tea fresh. Anyway, in the store is the largest Yixing clay pot ever made, around 6ft high -- it took a gang of expert artists a few months to make this pot, and the level of craftsmanship is very high. Each of the tiny figures is carved with a different face and appearance. This pot went on a world tour, and finally upon arriving back in Qinzhou was dropped off the back of a truck and broke. You can maybe see in the picture that it's been repaired. Even so, there have been offers of millions of Yuen to buy it, but the store refuses to sell.
In fact, in the back of the store is a collection of ancient Nixing pottery, but it was for sale only to locals -- they don't want it leaving the area, which seems admirable.
The pottery of primary of bronze and yellow clay, and turns azure when fired, and burnishes to a wonderful shine. We really wanted to buy more, but we're very tight on space. Even so, we got a beautiful vase of mixed bronze and yellow clay, a lovely teapot, and a set of two matched mugs carved with a wedding inscription for when Maddy gets married (yes, we're thinking way ahead here). I really wish we could have managed a couple of the bigger pots as major decoration for the home, but maybe next time.