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Tibetan Pottery Wares

June,10 2023 BY Yangkyi 0 COMMENTS

Pottry wares are very popular in Tibet. The Tibetan potting has more than 5000-year history. The pottery fractions and unbroken pottery wares of the Neolithic age unearthed at Karub ruins in Qamdo are the earliest pottery ware crafts ever discovered in Tibet. From these excavation, we can see that people had already made integral patterns and pretty fine details. The wares appear a naivet¨¦and straightforward style. The dermatoglyphic patterns were made by several means, i. e. pasting, carving and drawing, etc. The dermatoglyphic patterns are usual1y in abstract geometry, though somewhat clumsy and childish. They are mainly woven patterns, labyrinth-patterns, water streaks, lozenges and straight lines, appearing on the middle part of the body of the ware. The shaping and dermatoglyphic patterns had extended to enlightened taste of the Neolithic people from single function of utility. The pottery jars with either single ear or double ears were beautifully built and finely worked, undoubtedly being the models of the pottery ware technology in that time.

Pottery ware is essential to the Tibetans' daily life, and it was especially during the period when the metal-ware had not been massively used. Production of the pottery wares has reached a considerable scale, and the production bases are found almost everywhere in Tibet. The shapes of the wares and the dermatoglyphic patterns on the wares and their technologies have been renovated continuously. Currently the pottery making is relatively advanced in such areas as Gyantse, Maizhokunggar, Lhunzhub, Mangkang, Chanang, Chagyab, and Sog, etc, which are the production centers in their respective regions and enjoy good reputation in Tibet for their products. The categories are also diversified, mainly as coarse sandy wares, glazed pottery, red pottery, b1ack pottery and painted pottery, etc. The shapes of the wares are as many as 20 or more kinds, such as the urn, jar, olla, stove, pot, bowl, basin, incense holder and cup, etc. They fall into two broad categories according to their functions and purposes f those for religious purpose and everyday life usage.

The religious utensils are mainly used for worship, consecration and being buried with the dead. Especially in the early days, they were not only the containers for offerings to the deities, but also the symbols of the wealth and power, which were only used in great rituals and events, somewhat like the bronze wares in Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties in ancient China. This can be proven from the pottery fractions unearthed from the graven and consecration sites of Tubo period (the 7th century AD). After the Tubo period, owing to the funeral system reform, the pottery wares were not more buried with the dead, but only used for worship. The current religious pottery wares are in general the painted ones, such as the black, white and red prints strikingly against red background. The shapes mainly are jars and bowls, consisting the parts as cover, neck, ear, body, feet and bottom, which inherit those unearthed in Karo ruins and present as big body and small opening for the jars and big opening and smal1 bottom for the bowls, attached with single car or double ears, and having harmonized proportion and symmetry looking from all three dimensions. The dermatoglyphic patterns are usually painted on the neck, body and feet. The lotus flowers with bottom-up or bottom-down are painted on the feet. The eight auspicious symbols such as the treasure banner and shell, etc, as well as such prints as flowers or blaze, are painted on the body. The prints of sun and moon are painted on the neck. The painting styles are both elaborated and bolded, giving the solemn and far-gone looking.

The pottery wares used in everyday life are generally not painted. And they are diversified in shapes and making, presenting a strong folk taste. The combination pottery wares are also emerging. For example, there is a kind of combination of pot at the top and jar at the bottom, with the former's bottom being the cover of the latter, really a perfect design. Another example is to imitate the shape of the animals, integrating the ears with the cover, presenting a vivid looking. Dermatoglyphic patterns are either naturalistic, such as lotus flower, sun and moon, and dragon design; or abstract, such as various geometrical patterns, which are pasted, molded, inlaid and painted. The pottery wares made in Rinpung County are unique in dermatoglyphic patterns. The artisans embed the Kraakporselein fragments into the green ware then fire it in the kiln, obtaining the very elegant prints. The shapes of the wares are usually with big body large opening, short neck and long feet.


About the Author - Yangkyi

Yangkyi is one of the experienced female local Tibetan guides in our team. She is exceptionally enthusiastic and responsible. The moment you meet Yangkyi in Lhasa, you will be greeted with her infectious smile and deeply impressed by her encyclopedic insight of Tibetan Buddhism and culture.

Traveling with Ynagkyi in Tibet is a breeze. She takes great care of everything and is extremely accommodating to the needs of every traveler in the tour group. Hopefully, you find Yangki’s travel articles hopeful in planning your Tibet tour.

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