Maker: Lai Brothers Clay: Fine Porcelain Style: Hand-painted wood-fired Teacup Kiln: Wood-Fired Volume: 60ml
Written in a very natural calligraphic style, lines from the Diamond Sutra decorate the edges of this cup. The way Lai Elder used the natural shape of the wood burns and vitrified portions of this teacup to hide and flow with the text creates a really beautiful gestalt. Ornamenting the side without text is a buddha sitting on a cloud.
The text reads (from right to left): “三界之中，以心为主；真观心者，究竟解脱，不能观者，究竟沉沦” "In the three realms, the heart-mind is the lord; those who truly see the mind, after all, are free, while those who cannot, sink into desire."
Check out other Jingdezhen wood-fired cups available here!
Lai told us that sometimes after he opens the kiln, he finds a teacup with a very special flame mark, or Huowen 火纹. Inspired by the natural shape of this mark, he begins to draw out images from his imagination onto the cup. Once the painting is complete, he does a second firing to seal the pigments. What makes this piece even more remarkable is the 60-70% failure rate of most wood-fired porcelain pieces. So to have such a unique wood fired piece that has also been hand painted is something very rarely seen.
This cup was wheel thrown by the older Lai brother, and tended to in the wood-fired kiln by the younger. The Lai brothers represent a younger generation of ceramicists who have moved to Jingdezhen to follow their passion for pottery in a city world-renown for it. The production of the the Lai Brothers is characteristically a little more raw and rugged than that of the more refined and experienced Yue Chao. Many of these pieces are not perfect in their shape, slightly changing during the intense heat of the wood-fired kiln, but it is their small differences that make every piece from the Lai brothers' studio so endearing to us!
Check out other pieces from the Lai Brothers here!
As mentioned, each piece has been wood fired over a period of three days at temperatures over 1300 degrees Celsius. As every piece has been wood-fired, the slightly uneven flame and heat distribution in the kiln has created subtle variations on each piece in the form of crackled vitrified glazes, rough flame marks (火纹), and other unique elements to make each piece truly irreplaceable.
Learn more about the Brothers Lai in our recent blog post about Jingdezhen!