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kilnpriestess

Chinese kiln gods and studio potters

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This is my first time to post on this website discussion group. Mea, another moderator has suggested I try to post on this forum because the topic of kiln gods might be germane to people here. I hope so because I think that this topic is very special. My name is Martie Geiger-Ho have recently published a book on this topic, and in May of 2013 I will go to Taiwan on a grant from the University of Brunei Darussalam where I teach ceramics, sculpture and art history to study kiln firing rituals. (Brunei Darussalam is a modern oil rich Islamic nation located on the Island of Borneo.) I am posting with the Ceramic Arts Community because I want to have some contact and exchange with other studio potters about the topic of kiln gods. I wrote a dissertation about the kiln gods of China for my doctorate and since that time I have researched new sites and developments about kiln god worship practices in China. I am thinking about writing an article on this topic, or even another book in the future, and I would like to know more from others about how they heard about kiln gods or if they make them. A long time ago I did some posting on clayart and I enjoyed the exchange with others about kiln gods. I hope that I can meet others who enjoy the lore and mystery of ceramics through this site.

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JBaymore    1,432

Welcome to the forums.

 

Fascinating topic. This likely should bring up a lively discussion here, I think.

 

As a long term professional kiln builder with strong ties to Japan (I can show you pictures of me doing the pre-firing Shinto blessing on wood kilns I've built there ;) ) I'm looking forward to seeing more info.

 

And also being a professor of ceramics as well...... I'd LOVE to see a copy of your dissertation.

 

What is the ISBN of the book you have already published?

 

 

best,

 

................john

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Chris Campbell    1,088

I have three kilns and a unique kiln god was placed in every one for the first firing. I consider this rite to be a traditional acknowledgement of the earth/clay connection but nowadays you can be taken to task for disrespecting 'real' religions. Yes, I have been reprimanded for it but I will be a repeat offender if necessary. :)

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Denice    243

In the early 70's when I was in college the professor or student loading the kiln would make a kiln god and set it on top of the kiln to ensure a good firing, this was done on all firings. Denice

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

Hi Martie! So nice to hear from you after all these years. Welcome to the CAD forum.

I used kiln Gods on my reduction firings for the past forty plus years.

Marcia

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Tim866    0

This is my first time to post on this website discussion group. Mea, another moderator has suggested I try to post on this forum because the topic of kiln gods might be germane to people here. I hope so because I think that this topic is very special. My name is Martie Geiger-Ho have recently published a book on this topic, and in May of 2013 I will go to Taiwan on a grant from the University of Brunei Darussalam where I teach ceramics, sculpture and art history to study kiln firing rituals. (Brunei Darussalam is a modern oil rich Islamic nation located on the Island of Borneo.) I am posting with the Ceramic Arts Community because I want to have some contact and exchange with other studio potters about the topic of kiln gods. I wrote a dissertation about the kiln gods of China for my doctorate and since that time I have researched new sites and developments about kiln god worship practices in China. I am thinking about writing an article on this topic, or even another book in the future, and I would like to know more from others about how they heard about kiln gods or if they make them. A long time ago I did some posting on clayart and I enjoyed the exchange with others about kiln gods. I hope that I can meet others who enjoy the lore and mystery of ceramics through this site.

 

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JBaymore    1,432

are there electric kiln gods too? are they ostracized by the gas gods and the woodfire gods?

 

 

To work properly for your firings they must be positioned appropriately by the eclectic electric clerics. ;)

 

best,

 

 

..........................john

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Wind n Wing    1

Guess I am uneducated because I have never heard of Kiln Gods before. Is this some type of inanimate object that is burned in the kiln? I know different cultures have rituals for all sorts of things but this is new to me.

 

RJ

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kathi    2

I fire with three kiln gods. The first, my father made (not knowing it would be a kiln god) is a head he made of clay while watching my husband and me build my studio. I fired it in my first kiln load in the new studio. The second and third gods were made by my son and daughter. The three of them watch over my kiln loads whenever I fire.......Sometimes they are not as vigilant as I would like......

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Cass    5

thing is , ive had such 'luck' with none, i'd be afraid to mess it up by making one, maybe bad juju...maybe mine are invisible, or shy

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Welcome to the forums.

 

Fascinating topic. This likely should bring up a lively discussion here, I think.

 

As a long term professional kiln builder with strong ties to Japan (I can show you pictures of me doing the pre-firing Shinto blessing on wood kilns I've built there ;) ) I'm looking forward to seeing more info.

 

And also being a professor of ceramics as well...... I'd LOVE to see a copy of your dissertation.

 

What is the ISBN of the book you have already published?

 

 

best,

 

................john

 

 

Hi John, it is nice to meet you.

 

I have been hoping for the chance to meet someone who knows about the rituals and customs for blessing a kiln firing in Japan for a very long time. I really do not know much about Japanese beliefs about spirits of Kami's, but I did argue in my writing about the validity of Kenneth Beittel's notion of his teaching about kiln god practices from Japan in his 1992 book Zen and the Art of Pottery. The ISBN for my writing is 978-1-4327-9073-8.

 

I would like very much to see a posting of your Shinto pre-firing blessing. Information about Japanese kiln blessing practices seem to be very rare. I am sure that there are many potters that would love to learn more about Japanese thoughts on this subject.

 

Building kilns is something that I wish I had more experience with. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I have never had the chance to be a part of a wood firing. I am such a romantic when it comes to being mesmerized by fire and inticed by clay that I cannot believe that I missed this experience.

 

It is raining in Brunei today, which is not surprising because we have a rain-forest here.

 

Thanks in advance for your reply on the Japanese kiln blessing post.

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Hi Martie! So nice to hear from you after all these years. Welcome to the CAD forum.

I used kiln Gods on my reduction firings for the past forty plus years.

Marcia

 

 

 

Hi Marcia.

No wonder your firings turn out so well--you are blessed by the kiln gods.

 

We only have electric kilns in Brunei, and there are not many of them around. I have seen small pockets of naturally occuring clay here along a few road cuts. This is why all of the clay here has to be imported.

 

I hope that you like Texas and that all is going well for you at home and in the studio.

 

Cheers, Martie

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In the early 70's when I was in college the professor or student loading the kiln would make a kiln god and set it on top of the kiln to ensure a good firing, this was done on all firings. Denice

 

 

I learned about making kiln gods in college too. I always felt that the placement of kiln gods on community kilns personalized the kiln firing. Making a kiln god or a few guardians and putting them on the kiln was like staking out your territory while the kiln was being fired.

 

Cheers, Martie

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Guess I am uneducated because I have never heard of Kiln Gods before. Is this some type of inanimate object that is burned in the kiln? I know different cultures have rituals for all sorts of things but this is new to me.

 

RJ

 

 

 

The notion of kiln gods in the USA is a sort of playful idea that a kiln's fickle temperment (this is especially true for old up, or downdraft kilns) can be tamed or turned in favor of the ceramists needs if clay figures or creatures are placed on the roof or door arch area of the kiln.

 

Potter's in China do not make figures for individual kilns, however, ceramic producing regions or cities all have their own kiln dieties that form part of the pantheon of gods that make-up that area's folk religion or popular religion beliefs.

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are there electric kiln gods too? are they ostracized by the gas gods and the woodfire gods?

 

 

To work properly for your firings they must be positioned appropriately by the eclectic electric clerics. ;)

 

best,

 

 

..........................john

 

 

Since electric kilns are not as flashy and noisy as smoke spewing and fire belching fuel burning kilns, kiln gods just do not look too cool sitting on them or around them, or under them or where ever you can figure out to place them. I think that the lack of attention given to the gods of electric kilns is shameful and that we need to maybe start a committee to figure out if they should have their own special kind of metal shrine or something that can be placed close to the kiln when it is firing. Does anyone have any ideas? (I like the notion of eclectic electric clerics that john mentioned.)

 

Cheers, Martie

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I would love to read your book if you would forward the title. What a wonderful subject please keep us posted on your adventure.

 

 

 

This book has a long title, The Worship of Kiln Gods: From the Temples of China to the Studios of Western Potters.

Cheers, Martie

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thing is , ive had such 'luck' with none, i'd be afraid to mess it up by making one, maybe bad juju...maybe mine are invisible, or shy

 

 

I think that making something and putting it on the kiln is like making a memento for the firing. Since we cannot be in the kiln with our work we do the best that we can by doing all of the right things before and after the firing. Sometimes making a kiln god during a firing can help me to focus my energy and thoughts about the firing so that I do not make mistakes or take the firing for granted. Just thinking about the firing might be good juju too.

 

Cheers, Martie

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Wind n Wing    1

Guess I am uneducated because I have never heard of Kiln Gods before. Is this some type of inanimate object that is burned in the kiln? I know different cultures have rituals for all sorts of things but this is new to me.

 

RJ

 

 

 

The notion of kiln gods in the USA is a sort of playful idea that a kiln's fickle temperment (this is especially true for old up, or downdraft kilns) can be tamed or turned in favor of the ceramists needs if clay figures or creatures are placed on the roof or door arch area of the kiln.

 

Potter's in China do not make figures for individual kilns, however, ceramic producing regions or cities all have their own kiln dieties that form part of the pantheon of gods that make-up that area's folk religion or popular religion beliefs.

 

 

Thank you for the information. My education has been updated or backdated considering how long this practice has been going on.

 

RJ

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AndyL    23

Yes, I've made kiln Gods when we fired at Brookdale Community College's Gas Kiln. Here I just named my electric kiln Mrs Potts. Does that count for a home kiln?

post-762-134876045631_thumb.jpg

post-762-134876045631_thumb.jpg

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GEP    863

My electric kiln is named Dr. Evil. When I was transitioning from an 18" two-section kiln, to a 23" three-section kiln, I had both kilns in my studio for about a week. During that time they were named Dr. Evil and Mini Me.

 

I've never made kiln gods for Dr. Evil, but every time I unload a successful glaze firing, I quickly bow to the kiln and say "thank you" just to ackowledge there are forces present other than electricity.

 

Mea

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ayjay    119

I didn't have a Kiln god, I have a couple of items that could have been pressed into service as kiln gods but I felt a purpose made item may have been more respectful to the philosophy of any such deities and decided I really ought to make one.

 

So, I had a glaze test fire to do yesterday and there was one item of greenware on my shelf which had been sat there for a couple months, (there had been no room for it in my last couple of bisque firings) which could serve as a kiln god, it was coloured with slips and so a single firing was deemed to be all it needed - my first suspicions were correct - the deities needed more respect - said items head exploded in kiln showering my test piece with bits - this is the first item of mine which has ever exploded.

 

I may abandon the idea of Kiln Gods, I was doing OK without them. :unsure:

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olisny    0

I have an electric kiln; the first thing I did after plugging it in was make a kiln god to watch over it. He sits on a shelf on the wall right behind the kiln. Thus far, all firings have gone well on his watch! (Though I just now realized he doesn't have eyes...) :blink:

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