Liu Hao helped revive the ancient craft of black pottery after China's tumultuous Cultural Revolution.
Now the 70-year-old faces an even tougher task: keeping his craft relevant in an age of cheap copies and heightened environmental awareness.In a modest workshop in Qihe County, not far from the Yellow River in eastern Shandong province, Liu and his workers transform mud from the banks of China's "Mother River" into brilliant, black vases with intricate etchings.Here, in the shadow of factories and a busy railway line, time seems to stand still.Working in much the same way as artisans dating back some 5,000 years, Liu and his colleagues take about a month per item to mould the clay, shape it, etch it -- and, finally, fire it to produce its trademark black, shiny finish.The meticulous process makes for a relatively expensive final product: average pieces sell for about 1,000 yuan ($140), with some going for up to 50 times that much.(read more...)
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