On Monday, 26th October 2020, a group of Form 4 CCP Science students at St. Margaret College Secondary School, Verdala, Cospicua were introduced to the making of Chinese Porcelain. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the China Corner at St. Margaret College and this school project was related to the student’s study unit about properties of materials.
Senior Science teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc who coordinated this project said, “The China Corner of our school serves as a Montessori method of teaching to help students learn scientific concepts and knowledge through application and hands on material. It is also a means of inculcating multiculturalism in education”.
The making of Chinese porcelain has a very long history which goes back to the Han dynasty (202 BC–220 AD). Antique pieces of Chinese porcelain are considered as national work of art in China. Chinese porcelain is made from various materials like glass, bone, ask, quartz and alabaster but the main ingredient is a white powder (clay mineral) called ‘kaolin’. The name kaolin derives from a small village in China called Gaoling which is situated nearby the porcelain city of Jingdezhen.
Normally in Western countries we refer to Chinese porcelain as ‘china’ and during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) large quantities of Chinese porcelain were exported through the maritime trade. If Chinese porcelain is made of kaolin, quartz and feldspar it can be extremely durable and last for many years.
The process required to make Chinese porcelain is a long and delicate one with dozens of steps required. It involves the crushing of the raw material, cleaning, mixing, forming the shape, bisque-firing (first-firing step), glazing and final firing.
In ancient China only small number of workshops could be ‘imperial kilns’ as they had to acquire the government consent before supplying pieces of porcelain to the Chinese imperial family. In fact the Chinese Imperial family was offered priority when buying the best items of Chinese porcelain and normally the making of porcelain required the mark of the emperor’s reign and dynasty.
The most famous city for porcelain making is Jingdezhen which is 400 km west of the ancient capital city of Hangzhou – the tea capital city. The porcelain city of Jingdezhen derives its name from the Song Dynasty Emperor Jingde for whom in the year 1004 AD fine bluish-white porcelain was produced.
At the end of this project students could admire some pieces of blue and white porcelain made in the city of Jingdezhen and observe its translucent material.
Teacher Martin Azzopardi and his students offer special thanksgivings to the Malta China Cultural Centre, the China Embassy in Malta and the Malta/Sino Friendship Society for their continuous help and support.
St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala students: Shezdon Pisani, Celaine Said and Mariah Vella under the supervision of the Senior Science teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc.
St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala students: Shezdon Pisani, Celaine Said and Mariah Vella together with their teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc studying the making of Chinese Porcelain.