RUSTIC SPLENDORS
Kiln Treasures from Shiwan
From the Xian Rui Xuan Collection
On View: August 26, 2005 through March 25, 2006
Ceramic tradition is the most enduring and outstanding of all China's decorative arts. The less widely known Shiwan (pronounced in Cantonese: Shekwan) kilns from south China deserve recognition for their distinctive characteristics and innovative contribution to China's ceramic tradition. Located in the southern province of Guangdong, the Shiwan kilns have been producing pottery steadily for over 4,000 years and some Shiwan wares have earned recognition beyond their remote provincial place of origin.

These superb vessels were made in an infinite number of creative shapes and were decorated with great skill and imagination. The most magnificent feature of Shiwan ceramics is the incredible variety and range of their unique glazes and glaze effects. The renowned Shiwan figurines, or gongzai in Cantonese, are finely modeled and they manage to convey not only the facial features but also the spirit of the subject with vivid animation.

This exhibition is presented by the Pacific Heritage Museum in collaboration with the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco. Rustic Splendors: Kiln Treasures from Shiwan features 140 ceramic pieces and brings together the very best examples of Shiwan pottery from collectors in the U.S. and Canada. The selection ranges from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) to the modern period. Only sixteen works have ever been on public display. The extensive selection illustrates Shiwan creativity in the traditional categories of figures, vessels, animals, and household objects. A distinct section devoted to scholarly objects offers a fresh perspective in appreciating Shiwan art.

This project was planned and implemented with the assistance of many people to whom we would like to thank for their time and expertise. We thank So Kam Ng for curating the exhibition; Albert Cheng for securing many of the objects from collectors; John Lee for the photography of the objects; exhibition designer Lillian Hsu; Carol Potter Peckham, Manni Liu, and Ted Lin for overall coordination; Rick Wong Design for graphics design, Xiaomei Li for her translation work, and last but not least, all the collectors who have generously loaned their valuable Shiwan pieces to the exhibition. In addition, we also thank Grants for the Arts of the San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, and to the membership of the Chinese Culture Foundation for their funding support.

Li Tieguai in Blue and Soy Brown Glazes Li Tieguai in Blue and Soy Brown Glazes
Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
H: 22.5 cm (8 7/8 in.), W: 15.3 cm (6 1/8 in.)
Collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
(Former collection of Carol Potter Peckham)
Drunken Liu Ling in Pomegranate Red Glaze Drunken Liu Ling in Pomegranate Red Glaze
Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
H: 10.3 cm (4 1/8 in.), W: 13.9 cm (5 1/2 in.)
Collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
(Former collection of Carol Potter Peckham)
Square Incense Burner with Chinese Lion Knob in Biscuit Square Incense Burner with Chinese Lion Knob in Biscuit
Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
H: 35.3 cm (13 7/8 in.), W: 27.6 cm (10 7/8 in.)
Mark of Wu Nanshi Tang in relief in regular script
Collection of John N. Lee
Vase in the Shape of Lingzhi Fungus in Dark Soy Brown and Blue Glazes Vase in the Shape of Lingzhi Fungus in Dark Soy Brown and Blue Glazes
Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
H: 16.2 cm (6 3/8 in.), W: 8.2 cm (3 1/4 in.)
Collection of John N. Lee
Cylindrical Vase in Tiger-skin Glaze Cylindrical Vase in Tiger-skin Glaze
Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
H: 21.6 cm (8 1/2 in.), W: 8.5 cm (3 3/8 in.)
Collection of John N. Lee
Brush Washer in Feather Blue Jun Flambé Glaze Brush Washer in Feather Blue Jun Flambé Glaze
Early Qing
H: 9.8 cm (3 7/8 in.), D: 14.3 cm (5 5/8 in.)
Collection of Anne and Albert Cheng