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The Official Kiln Museum of the Southern Song Dynasty is a museum dedicated to preserving the rich tradition of pottery and porcelain crafting that was very prominent in China from the past until now.
The cultural Chinese tradition of pottery making can be traced back to 8,000 years ago, while porcelain was first discovered in the country 2,000 years ago. The culture thrived and grew primarily during the Song Dynasty from 960 to 1279. After the culture reached its peak, countless chinaware appeared all over the country, but most prominent of all were the products of the official kiln. Also known as Guan Yao, these products are the highest class chinaware that were used by royalty. Some of them are so exquisite that even the royals themselves only use them for decoration.
According to records, there were only two official kilns during the Southern Song Dynasty: Jiaotanxia Guanyao and Xiunesia Guanyao. Their works are still preserved in the Kiln Museum of the Southern Song Dynasty, and are in fact some of the reasons why this museum is worth a visit for anyone who is traveling in Hangzhou.
Things to do
Visitors at the Official Kiln Museum of the Southern Song Dynasty have quite a lot to see. The museum covers an entire floor area of 15,000 square meters, while the building covers 4,364 square meters. The museum is built right on the site where the remains of Jiaotanxia Guanyao was buried. It was then the first ever museum focused entirely on pottery and porcelain. The museum officially began receiving visitors in 1992. Now, it is worth a visit especially for art and culture enthusiasts and those with a particular interest in pottery and porcelain making.
The museum has plenty of displays, most of which are products of the official kilns of the Southern Song Dynasty. Most of the products show off exquisite charm and delicate beauty.
A trip to the museum can be divided into two parts, just like the museum itself, which has an exhibition area and another area dedicated to official kiln relics. The exhibition area consists of three rooms, the first of which feature many delicate chinaware treasures from the past dynasties. Some of these were unearthed in various parts of Hangzhou. In the second room, the history of China ceramics is highlighted; there, visitors can learn more about how this tradition started, and what its social, political, and economic contributions were. The third room, on the other hand, focuses on the research on ancient porcelain. The entire exhibition area now showcases a total of more than 8000 chinaware samples.
Aside from the exhibits, there is also a pottery bar where visitors can actually see how pottery was made in the past. Visitors can even get the chance to make their own pottery to better understand the lives of the people engaged in the art and tradition of ancient pottery-making.