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Hotpot is a popular dish in China.

Fresh meat and vegetable bleached with boiling soup then dipped into a variety of different sauces is super tasty.  Hotpot used to be a winter dish; eating around the stove with meat just off the pot, rice wine and friends is the perfect meal for a freezing evening.  Since the invention of air conditioner, we just find any excuses for such gathering, even on a 30+c summer night.

Before the induction stove, the canister gas stove, charcoal is used to heat up the soup for hotpot.  Despite its appearance, this is stove for the hotpot where a traditionally a chimney donut shaped copper pot would be placed over the porcelain stove.  Charcoal will be placed in the slot at bottom which opened up to the center of the stove and into the copper chimney, the copper conducts the heat to the rest of the pot.


lacquer trayDIA330xH80mm, China

A lacquer tray decorated with picture of a scene from the Beijing opera “Tai Jun Ci Cao”.  The story is about the famous Yang family of warriors.

First some background to the story; Commander Lord Yang,  his wife She Sai Hua and their 7 sons was defending the North Han country against the Sung.  Though the Sung army is the stronger one, the Yang’s family out smarted them, the Sung General Pan was shot by Lady’s She’s arrow and had to retreat.  Failing with the attack, the Sung emperor spread rumors about Lord Yang which had the suspicious North Han emperor distrust Yang’s advice and was defeated utterly.  After the victory, the Sung emperor took Lord Yang under his wing and made him a trusted official, General Pan was very jealous of this promotion.

The Liao country start attacking Sung, Lord Yang and his sons was defending Sung at the border.  Yang’s army was out numbered, 3 of his sons were killed in action, he send his 7th son to get reinforcement but was secretly killed by Pan.  Lord Yang was captured and one of his son was captured, Lord Yong committed suicide to avoid being used as a hostage while his son was selected by the Liao Princess to be her husband.  The 5th son was tired of all the fighting and the politics became a monk.  The 6th son managed to escape and returned to the Sung capital and became the commander in place of his father but was later killed in action.

The opera story on the lacquer dish appear at this point, the Sung emperor asked the Yang family to led the fight with the Liao.  With all the males gone, here is only Lady She (now in her 70s), 2 daughters, the daughter in laws and young grandson left in the family.  Lady She, the commander with the female warriors led the army to victory.  When they return safety home, Lady She after losing all her sons fearing that her only grandson too would eventually die in battle ask the Emperor to allow the family to leave their duty as the commanders.


dishDIA275xH90mm, China

We are used to seeing blue and white porcelain, the black and white pottery is equally famous, dated back to the Sung dynasty.  Originated from Ci Zhou, He Bei (north eastern China), at the end of Sung dynasty, to escape from the war in the north, artisan and craftsman moved to the south and brought along the technique with them.  Ci Zhou pottery is not only rooted in Ci Zhou but Ji Zhou in the south.

Unlike blue and white porcelain, the white background of hte Ci Zhou ware is made by coating the pottery with a white slip.  In this particular item, under glaze is then painted after bisque firing and coated with transparent glazing.  In some Ci Zhou ware the idea of the slip is push to the extreme where strokes and carving comes into play.

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