Fire Breathing Dragon

November 30, 2016 at 12:30 am | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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Itchyfingers first heard of this many moons ago when she was still a college student. Still remember visiting one with fellow classmates and our art teacher at one of the ulu (translates as “out-of-place”) parts of Singapore. There, we saw the “Dragon”. But when we visited it, it was still “sleeping”….

Itchyfingers is talking about the Dragon Kiln – a kiln built with bricks and earth, and originated from China. It is called the Dragon Kiln as it is very long and has a “head” and a “tail”.

Like the sleeping Dragon, Itchyfingers‘ memory on the Dragon Kiln soon went to sleep and has only been awaken recently when, out of the moon, on one fine day, I pestered Tisu Boy to bring me to visit the only of the two surviving Dragon Kilns in Singapore. I have passed by the road with a big pottery pointing to the direction of the Kiln quite a number of times for the past few years, but just never find the time to go and check it out…

So this day, Itchyfingers finally found our way to Thow Kwan Pottery Jungle in the western part of Singapore. A pity it is really a bit out-of-the-way, as you still have to walk a distance if you take a bus there. For direction, see here.

Didn’t expect to see it the moment we stepped in….

dragon
The “head” or fire box of the dragon…This Dragon was built in 1940 and bought over by the Tan Family in 1965.

head
During the 1900s, Dragon Kilns were used for mass production of functional household and industrial wares like cups, jars and pots. The front portion (the head or fire box) is situated at the lower ground level and is the first point where firewood is fed in into the kiln at the start of the firing process.

size
I thought the one we visited at Ang Mo Kio was much longer and bigger…Didn’t have a camera then…what a waste!

stoke
The entire kiln is built on a gentle slope with a gradient of between 15 to 22 degrees. This is the “body”, a long and symmetrical structure made of joining semi-circular chambers. This elevated and semi-circular structure ensures a continuous cycle of heat within each section as the heat travels up the kiln. 

model
A miniature model of the Dragon Kiln. These openings, called the stoke holes or “eyes”, are located at designated spots in each chamber along the kiln body for fueling purposes. Wood fuel is fed through these stoke holes sequentially in stages to achieve an even distribution of heat throughout the kiln. Temperature inside the kiln is gauged by observing the colour of the flames through the stoke holes.

how-it-works
A poster on the wall explains how it works…

entrance2
One of the entrances into the kiln body…

tail
The heat and smoke from the firing escapes through a chimney, or “tail” of the Dragon, located at the highest point of the inclined ground, which is partially seen here…

entrance
Careful of your head! The entrance is quite low…

tunnel
The interior of the “body”…

Today, the Dragon Kiln provides a platform for artists and potters in fueling an understanding and appreciation of the disappearing art of wood-firing. To create awareness of the traditions, heritage and cultural aspect of the Dragon Kiln and promote interest in the art of pottery, Thow Kwang holds regular tours, talks and workshops in their premises.

pig
There is a large shop area where you can find lots of traditional and contemporary pottery, ceramic wares and cute bronze sculptures like this one!

house
A peek at the old house at the back…Really feel like going back in time to the 60s!

For Itchyfingers, we were so lucky to visit at the right time to find out about the next firing of the Dragon Kiln!!!!

fire
The Dragon shall be awaken and breathing fire again come this December 16-17! There will be free guided tour on 17 Dec at 2pm and 7pm. Walk-ins are welcome according to the leaflet! Itchyfingers definitely would love to witness this! 

Join Itchyfingers at the Cat Purrzaar this July!

June 30, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Posted in itchy mouth | 1 Comment
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In conjunction with the Cats of the World Photo Exhibition held at the Art House, Itchyfingers will be joining their Cat Saturday Purrzaars on the 5, 12 and 19 July from 11 am to 6pm. We will be showcasing our handmade kitty creation together with 18 other local artists and designers. So for those folks in Singapore, do pop by and say hello, and join us for a fun and purrfect Caturday if you have some time on your paws to spare!

Saturday Purrzaar EDM
Please note the photo and art exhibition will be ongoing throughout July while the Purrzaar will only be happening on the first three Saturdays…Cats do not work on Sunday! Wahahahah….

Kitty-Brooch-Purrzaar
Itchyfingers’ room is invaded by kitties! Come and grab one of these woolly kitty pins specially prepared for the purrzaar! Can you spot some internet kitty sensation here? :D?

See you there!

Also see related posts:
> Itchyfingers at the Museum
> Urban Sensation! Festival

Secrets of the Fallen Pagoda

April 3, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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The capital of Tang China (618-907), Chang’an (present day Xi’an), was a hub for economic and cultural exchange. One of the most revered Buddhist sites in China was the Famen Temple. But for more than 1000 years, a finger relic of the Buddha and many gold, silver, ceramic pieces from the Tang dynasty lied forgotten within an underground crypt in the temple, only to be rediscovered in 1987 when the temple pagoda was being repaired.

camel
China at that time not only became prosperous and powerful, but also culturally diverse. This was mainly due to trade with foreign lands through the Silk Route to Central Asia. Camels were highly valuable in these arid lands, transporting goods and food

camel2
Ceramic camels excavated from Tang tombs are usually the Two-humped Bactrians, known to be resistant to cold weather. They are often accompanied by figures of foreigners

horse
Nice horse figurine…

Tang tombs were supplied with objects thought to be of use to the deceased, with ceramic figures being a key feature

guardian
A lion tomb guardian. Pairs of guardian beasts were typically placed outside the tomb chamber or in niches along the entrance passageway

guardian2
Figures dating to the earlier Tang period are generally simpler in form, and one of the pair often has a clearly distinguishable human face…Wow…this looks a bit scary and forbidding….more so than the lion….It actually reminded me of the Egyptian Sphinx…

zodiac
An interesting set of figurines depicting the 12 zodiac animals….but some of them a bit tough to decipher…wahahah….

I like these four miniature Buddhist figures made with gilded bronze…

figure
These collections of small statues were very likely buried to save them from being melted down during the intermittent periods of Buddhist persecutions during the Northern Dynasties and Tang periods….

figure2
I find this cute…hahahah…

figure3
The third one

figure4
Wow, he has three more little figures above him..nice…hahaha

But this has to be my favourite piece….It was what attracted me to the exhibition…. :p

turtle
A beautiful turtle-shaped container! This is featured on the promotional leaflet…The shell is the lid and it is probably used to store tea powder

emboss
Oh while you are at the gallery hall, do pick up this activity sheet and try embossing the various designs on it…I love the turtle one! So much details! 🙂 Oh, remember to press hard enough to get the full picture…hahaha

turtle2
The most beautiful feature of this pitcher is the tortoise-shaped rivet on the handle, which rotates…

coffin
A coffin-shaped reliquary carved from a single block of jade. It is thought to have held the genuine finger bone relic of the Buddha. Er, that’s up to you to believe…but I thought only a grasshopper or cricket can fit into the little casket …so small….wahahahah…. 😀 There is another made from bronze on exhibit

jug-w-faces
I find this jug with faces unique. The silk routes brought traders, pilgrims and envoys from near and far. The Chang’an capital during the Tang dynasty became a cosmopolitan city. “This cast bronze jug is one of the most enigmatic objects excavated in China in recent years. It relates to pottery of Iran and of Khotan, a city in southwestern China. Both areas were on the Silk Route, connecting Tang China to Central Asian and beyond.”

hairpin
The fanciful and complex hairdos of Tang women often involved the use of wigs, which made hairpins a vital accessory. Hairpins also served as status symbols. So the higher one social’s rank, the more hairpins one was entitled to wear….Er, of course lah, poor people how to buy so many gold hairpins like this? Wahahahahah….

beauty2
Ahhh…the Tang beauty….er…no hairpin leh!?! Wahahah….But there is this tiny hole on her bun which might be where the hairpin was supposed to be….

beauty
Tang women are so lucky….they are considered beauties when they are so chubby with slits for eyes and look of a certain Asia leader…wahahah….This looks like the bee-hive hairstyle from the 60s…hahhaah….

bun
Some women have double bun….

beauty3
She looks like she has a snake head on her….hahah….

fan
You can pick up a paper fan and doll up your own Tang beauty! Wahahah….

The Secrets of the Fallen Pagoda – Treasures from Famen Temple and the Tang Court is ongoing at the Asian Cilivisation Museum until the 4 May. Admission is $8.

Also see related post:
Tales from the Tomb – Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor and His Legacy

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