Imitation (or Faux) Ware (仿生瓷) from the Qing Imperial Kilns With Richard W. C. Kan

Date :
Saturday, 24 September 2016
Time :
15:00 – 16:30
Venue :
1/F, Fung Ping Shan Building, UMAG, HKU
Cost :
Free admission. All are welcome
Enquiries :
Linda Wang at [email protected] or 9026-2881

“Faux” is the French word for false. The adjective has been adopted into the English language to describe an imitation or ersatz good.

The French term “Faux” is actually quite misleading because the Qing Dynasty
artisans were not ‘faking’ porcelain pieces to deceive people into taking them for Ming or Yüan objects. Rather, their intention was to produce porcelain objects to look like, for instance, wood, stone, lacquer, jade, gold, flower, coral, bamboo, crab-shell, tea-dust, bronze, iron-rust, turquoise, Robin’s egg and many others. This was achieved by the application or painting of colour glazes or enamels onto a hard fired porcelain body via a second low firing. Reference books on Chinese ceramics or porcelain usually devote only one or two sentences to imitation ware (仿生瓷), complemented by several photographs at the most. There are a few, but shy away from discussions on the origin, glazes, techniques and the kiln masters credited with the creation of this most interesting and innovative ware which combines the skills of potting, firing, painting and the advancement of experiences gained from monochrome and polychrome productions.

This talk focuses on Qing Dynasty porcelain, the manufacture of imitation ware however goes back to several millennia if earthenware were included.

Richard W. C. Kan comes from a line of light industrialists from the prefecture of Nan Hai in Guangdong, founders of the Nanyang Brothers Tobacco Company Limited. It is documented as one of the 100 most distinguished enterprises in China of the twentieth century. The family has taken a keen interest to promote Chinese culture and Confucianism, which is highlighted by the donation of 120,000 square feet of land at So Kon Po, Hong Kong, for the erection of a school and an assembly hall to commemorate Confucius.

Mr. Kan was educated in Hong Kong at St. Paul’s Co-educational College and in England at Repton School and Imperial School. He has been a chartered engineer for over 41 years with experience in civil engineering, town planning, infrastructural and land development projects.

Since 2004, he has been a member of the History Museum Advisory Board. He is also a member of the Hong Kong Local Records Foundation overseeing this project, which is aimed at documenting all trades, professions, and locals’ and foreigners’ contributions alike to the growth and vibrancy of Hong Kong.

Of the several hobbies cultivated over the decades, Richard has taken special interests in the collection of Chinese monochrome ceramics and ancient Greek coins. An exhibition entitled “History Re-stored: Ancient Greek Coins from the Zhuyuetang Collection”, complemented by a catalogue, was mounted at the Museum of History in 2004 and another one called “Shimmering Colours: Monochromes of the Yuan to Qing Periods, the Zhuyuetang Collection”, also complemented by a catalogue, was mounted at the Art Museum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2005.