Wednesday, October 22, 2008


the love for fired clay

i am not a polymath by a long shot...well perhaps i can imagine i'm a bit of a poly(elementary) math? but what i really like about myself is this. but first i have to admit that i don't exactly love human beings very much. what humans have done to fellow human beings and still continue to do , and human greed, and cruelty and all kind of ugliness make me feel quite hopeless and helpless. but despite all that i am very much interested in many kinds of things and arts created by men. (men here is of course referred to humans of both sexes or three).

and one of man's fascinating and great creation is the arts of pottery. ceramics. gazing at chinese celadons, old vietnamese potteries, swankhalok and sukhothai and khmer iron brown glazed wares inexplicably gives me a serene and profound feeling of calmness and even almost intellectual trance. it's almost erotic. i can not explain this but there it is. i can look at a good piece of chinese celadon vase or jar with fine crackles for minutes on end and be transported into a small ecstasy. (doesn't need much to get me into a mental orgasm eh?).

since the price of good pottery is obscenely expensive, just like paintings, it is way beyond me to have a decent collection myself. although i can claim to own a few decent vietnamese celadon bowls reputedly from the ancient lei dynasty and a couple of khmer iron glazed jars (pic on the left) among a few other reproductions of old chinese celadons the best way to admire fine specimens of these potteries are simply to visit good museums.

and one of the best museums with reputedly one of the greatest pottery collection of 'kendi' (the pouring vessels) type is actually in Musium Seni Asia, University Malaya. There is a fine publication on the collection Kendi: Pouring Vessels in the University of Malaya Collection by Khoo Joo Ee - which i bought in the university bookshop a few years back.

not exactly a very sexy interest this, i must admit. but as you grow er... older you tend to pick up some wierd interests (and i don't mean any of those sexual perversions) like collecting ceramics and taking interest in parrots ...that sort of things.

like many other things in life i become interested in ceramics purely by accident and serendipity. many years ago i joined a few fishermen friends in their small fishing boat out fishing in the south china sea. they have this small bowl which they put salt and chillies in for dipping grilled sotong and fish . it is obviously not the usual bowl that you buy in the market and it turned out the bowl was caught in their fishing net and when i asked if i can keep it they said yes. and that's it. the start of my interest in pottery.and turns out there is one bowl of exactly the same type in the university malaya museum collection .

over the years i've visited many museums all over south east asia, china, korea, japan europe and the US and one of my goals is to visit topkapi palace museum in turkey. it is reputed to have one of the best collections of ceramics in the world...

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