Unveiling the Elegance: A Guide to Recognizing Fine White Porcelain Craftsmanship

Unveiling the Elegance: A Guide to Recognizing Fine White Porcelain Craftsmanship

Buddhism was introduced to China during the late Western Han Dynasty, but the art of sculpting Buddhist statues began during the Northern and Southern Dynasties. The thirty-two characteristics and eighty kinds of auspicious marks in Buddhism are common attributes of the Buddhas. It is difficult to differentiate based solely on appearance. Sculptors had to rely on scriptures and use different symbols to create various images. In particular, the gestures in the sculptures have strict guidelines. By observing the position of the hands, the bending and stretching of the fingers, the objects held, and the attire, one can identify whether the image represents Shakyamuni Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, Medicine Buddha, or Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, among others.

Among the sacred Buddha images, there are various forms such as standing, sitting, reclining, and flying. Each style carries profound meaning and symbolizes a spiritual aspect or sanctity of the Buddha. The flying image represents the Buddha flying in the air. The standing image can be a two-footed upright figure, a figure with one foot forward, or a figure with the center of gravity on the front foot, symbolizing the Buddha's dedication to teaching and his profound understanding of the universal truth of life. Despite being an enlightened Buddha with complete accomplishments, the Buddha tirelessly serves sentient beings with unwavering commitment to the truth. There are also standing figures with hands hanging down, representing the guidance of sentient beings. Additionally, sitting images often depict meditation, delivering teachings, or subduing demons to attain enlightenment. These images represent the state of self-enjoyment. Sitting images include the lotus position, the half-lotus position, leaning figures, half-leaning figures, kneeling figures, crossed-legged figures, and more.

The white porcelain Buddha statues sold at "Yi Shun Yuan" are produced by Dehua ceramic art, which originated in the Neolithic period, flourished during the Tang and Song dynasties, reached its peak during the Ming and Qing dynasties, and has continued to develop in contemporary times. Dehua ceramic sculpture has formed a unique traditional craftsmanship. One method involves directly shaping high-quality kaolin clay, while the other involves using clay molds for reproduction before casting or printing. After drying, the statues may or may not be glazed, and then they are fired in a kiln at temperatures over 1,000 degrees Celsius. The craftsmanship showcases delicate and lifelike sculpting, and the combination of artistic techniques and material beauty is evident in carving and relief decorations. The pieces exhibit the characteristics of famous kilns, especially white porcelain with distinct shades, rich layers, and a milky translucent glaze that allows excellent light transmission. Dehua ceramic products have always been important exports in China's trade, renowned worldwide alongside silk and tea, earning them the title of "Oriental Art Treasures."

The following are various manifestations of Guanyin Bodhisattva. All the images are from the products sold at "Yishunyuan Buddhist Sound Pavilion." Please do not copy or use them without permission. Thank you.

How can one identify good quality white porcelain craftsmanship?

Firstly, examine the quality of the porcelain clay. The clay used should be white, and the porcelain produced from it should be whiter and more lustrous.

Secondly, observe the glaze. The glaze should be whiter and more translucent, resulting in a whiter and more lustrous appearance of the porcelain.

Thirdly, consider the firing temperature. Higher firing temperatures, reaching around 1280°C, can produce porcelain that is whiter, purer, and more lustrous. Such porcelain tends to be long-lasting and resistant to discoloration.

These are the criteria for identifying good white porcelain craftsmanship. May equality prevail among all beings, and may light and love fill the world. May everyone be blessed with auspiciousness, peace, and joy.