Pottery, a symbol of ancient Chinese culture, first appeared in the Neolithic Age.
Liangchengzhen Relics, Yaowangcheng Relics, and Donghaiyu Relics in Rizhao City, Shandong Province, are all Longshan Culture (of the late Neolithic Age characterized by a burnished black pottery) relics and were first unearthed in the year 1936. A large number of the curios were collected by the Taiwan Palace Museum, while many others, owing to historic reasons, are now scattered in foreign lands and can now be found as such places as the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Historical Museum in Chicago, and the Stockholm Museum in Sweden.
In the year 1973, archaeologists from the History Department of Shandong University found two rare and invaluable black potteries that have been confirmed as "Artistic Treasures" by the State Bureau for the Preservation of Cultural and Historical Relics: one is a hollow, long-handled cup, and the other is an egg-shell long-handled cup. These potteries, especially the latter, established the reputation of Rizhao black potteries in Longshan Culture and ancient potteries.
Ancient black potteries unearthed in Rizhao City are of exquisite shape, as well as having a thin, black, and shiny body, which can be rated as consummate works of ancient Chinese art, and consequently have drawn worldwide attention. In recent years, quite a number of experts and scholars have come to Rizhao to study these rare and ancient masterpieces. Their praise of this "spirit of clay" has inspired the imaginations and fired the prosperity of local pottery manufactures. There are now more than ten large-scale black pottery factories here in which local potters integrate ancient artistic concepts with modern technologies, thus both preserving and enhancing the ancient heritage of Longshan Culture ceramics.
The crucial processes in the making of black pottery depend on the talaents of the most experienced artisans. The master with the highest skill in Rizhao is Mr. Su Zhaoqi of the Rizhao Black Pottery Research Institute. Five years of painstaking efforts conducting hundreds of experiments to duplicate the¡°long-handled hollow-out egg-shell cup" has now been rewarded by his success in reproducing the artistic treasure which was buried under earth for over 4,000 years.
In considering shape, proportion arrangement, and luster objectively, today's creations are much more beautiful than the original. The thinnest part of the original is 0.5 millimeters, while the modern one is only 0.1 millimeter thick, a truly astounding achievement. Upon hearing this through the media at home and abroad, numberous experts poured into Richao to examine at the masterpiece.
Long-handled hollow-out egg-shell cups have been kept as precious artistic works by many museums both in China and abroad. At the Asian International Consumer Goods Exposition held in Hong Kong, it was awarded the first prize. Mr. Su Zhaoqi's artistic works have now deservedly earned the admiration and praise of collectors from many regions and countries, such as Korea, Japan, Canada, France, the United States, as well as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao.
Thus, the Rizhao government is at present planning the construction of a museum and a black pottery research center beside the Longshan Culture Relics preservation site; and this promises to be a center for cherishing the old while welcoming new developments in the fine ceramic art of making black pottery.