Traditional Dunzi Production in Yaoli, China

Yaoli was a porcelain production center from the Song Dynasty (ca. 960) through the middle of the Ming Dynasty (ca. 1600). More than 30 workshops and several ancient kilns from that era have been excavated. Dunzi (chinastone feldspar / petunze), a porcelain and glaze ingredient, is still processed on the outskirts of town. While high production techniques are utilized in Jingdezhen, the traditional method is favored in Yaoli. 

Excavated kiln at Yaoli.


Dunzi is quarried nearby, broken into pieces, then ground into a fine powder with water-powered trip-hammers. 

A water wheel drives the long, wooden axle. Wooden pegs (in center back) trip the stone-tipped stampers as the axle rotates. 

Powdered Dunzi is washed, the slurry is passed through several tanks, then it is formed into blocks and dried. Sheds with walls of drying Dunzi blocks.

The tranquil town of Yaoli has preserved much of its past. Yaoli Clan House Cart used to transport Dunzi on exhibit at the Hongyi Hall Museum.

Tang Yong (an MFA student at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute) is an excellent bilingual guide. Please contact him for more information about Yaoli. You may also enjoy reading my Made in China article in the July/August 2008 issue of CERAMIC REVIEW.

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The Traditional Crafts of Porcelain Making in Jingdezhen, by Bai Ming, Jiangxi Fine Arts Publishing House, 2002, ISBN 7-80580-887-2, is excellent, but difficult to find outside of China.

Web page, photographs, and text by Carol Ventura in 2004. Please look at Carol's home page to see more about crafts around the world.