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Birthplace of Tangsancai
2004/06/09

In Luoyang City, Henan Province, there was once a saying "A man born in Suzhou or Hangzhou, and buried at Beimang Mountain is the most happy one." This is because Suzhou and Hangzhou were once the most prosperous places in ancient China and, according to the ancient art of fengshui, Beimang Mountain was regarded as a best place to bury the dead. Situated three kilometers from Luoyang City and boasting very beautiful natural surroundings, Beimang Mountain was chosen as the burial place of numerous emperors, high officials and noble lords since the Eastern Zhou Dyansty (770––256 B.C.). Local people even joke of the area as being "endless tombs leave no space for cows to lie."
This place was breathed with new life in 1899, when some colorfully glazed pottery found by a group of prospectors at Beimang Mountain caused a sensation. They were proved by experts to be funeral objects from the Tang Dynasty. Because this newly discovered pottery was all glazed in three colors, namely yellow, red and green, it got the name "Tangsancai" (tri-colored glazed pottery of the Tang Dyanasty). This valuable pottery aroused great interest from art-collectors both at home and abroad, therefore their prices climbed higher and higher. Now, a 35-cm-high Tangsancai is worth 0.4 million yuan (US $50,000).
Nanshishan Village sits on the ridge of Beimang Mountain. During the period of the Republic of China (1912––1949), local farmers could still occasionally find some tri-colored pottery when ploughing their fields. Around 1920, a folk artist named Gao Liangtian developed a technique that successfully duplicated Tangsancai, based on his years of experience repairing freshly excavated Tangsancai. Till 1980s, the whole Nashishan Village has learned how to make Tangsancai pottery.
After being vividly molded by artisans, the unpainted clay idols made of special earth will be fired at 1,100 centigrade degree for one or two days; then be glazed and fired again; another four to five hours later beautiful Tangsancai pieces will be ready. Tangsancai horses or camels made by superior artisans are strong but not awkward, fleshy but not fat; Tangsancai ladies made by superior artisans look full and round, graceful and confident. These superior crafts, with tidy cuts and smooth lines, natural colors and crystal glaze, exactly resemble those made by artists from the Tang Dynasty. And, like the originals, they are built to last a millenium: a 10-cm-high horse pottery can withstand a weight of 75 kilograms.
In today's Nashishan Village, those who craft Tangsancai are not just local villagers: there are farmer artists being conferred titles by UNESCO, certain families' pupils come to learn formative arts; graduates from fine art academies and folk artisans from all over China. Some of them come here for pure arts and others come here because the fame of Nanshishan Village–– Tangsancai made here are selling extremely well.  
Look at the pictures and you can see why!

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