National Treasure Intro
Ye Wang’s Koji pottery Jia-guan, Jin-lu is part of a set of auspicious Koji pottery figures.
In 1860, during the renovation of the Tzu-chi Temple, Xuejia, Tainan, Ye Wang was hired to make more than 200 pieces of Koji pottery to decorate the roofs and exterior walls of the temple.
The Jia-guan figure from this set of Koji pottery figures was originally located on the right side of the southwest side of the central hall; Jin-lu was originally located on the left side of the southwest side of the central hall. They are now on display in the Ye Wang Pottery Exhibition Room.
Ye Wang (1826-1887) was born in Chiayi, Taiwan during the Daoguang period of the Qing dynasty. He studied with potters in Guangdong, his works were mostly used as decorative objects for temples. Ye Wang’s works are unique, particularly because of his exquisite pinching and kiln firing techniques, which gives the figures vivid and delicate expressions, and because of the dynamic folds in their clothes, and the clear and delicate glazes of carmine, yellow, and blue. Therefore, they were designated as national treasures in 2015.
National Treasure Appreciation
The Jia-guan, Jin-lu set of figures were originally located at the front of the central hall, a location that could be easily seen by worshippers when they entered or left the temple. Most people desire “to gain official promotion and rise through the ranks step by step,” because this is what expresses that they have achieved success.
Therefore, Ye Wang placed the auspicious Jia-guan, Jin-lu Koji pottery figures where they could bless and pray that all people would get what they wanted.
The Jia-guan Koji pottery
The Jia-guan Koji pottery figure wears an official’s hat and the official robe worn by ministers in the Qing dynasty, and holds an ornate official’s hat in his left hand, with the intention of blessing others to rise to high official positions.
Regarding the form of the figure’s limbs, the position of human muscles is realistically represented. In his left hand, Jia-guan is holding an ornate official’s hat, and the left shoulder is raised slightly because of the weight of the hat, while the right shoulder is pulled back slightly. The left side of his waist is turned slightly forwards, with the sleeves of his robe swinging in line with his movement.
Although this work is damaged in many places and the glaze has slightly faded, it still shows the exquisite colors used by Ye Wang, with yellow, turquoise, blue, and carmine glazes demonstrating the beauty of his skillful craftsmanship.
The Jin-lu Koji pottery
The Jin-lu pottery figure is wearing an official’s hat and the official robe worn by ministers in the Qing dynasty, in his right hand he was originally holding up a plate with a deer on it, the deer is a homophone for the name of the figure. But in 1980, it was stolen and badly damaged.
The Koji pottery figure is wearing the official robe worn by ministers in the Qing dynasty, and the wrinkles and tautness of the clothes reveal the movement of muscles and bone, which conveys the movement of the whole body.
In particular, the thin hemline and cuffs of the body flutter to express the lightness of the garment, while the full belly and belt give the whole work a sense of steadiness.
- Chien Jung-ts’ung and Cheng Chao-i, Colorful Sculptures: A Collection of Taiwan’s Koji Pottery. Nantou City: Taiwan Historica Society, 2001.
- Cheng Wen-hsien, Ye Wang’s ‘The Eight Immortals Cross the Sea’. Tainan: Tainan Municipal Government, 2014.
The Tzu-chi Temple, Xuejia, in Tainan enshrines Baosheng Dadi. At the end of the Ming dynasty, Chen Yigui, a grain transport officer in Koxinga’s army, crossed the sea and came to Taiwan, and with him he brought the Baosheng Erdi statue from the Baijiao Ciji Temple in Fujian to worship. He settled in Tainan and built a small hut as a temple to worship Baosheng Erdi next to the Jiangjun River, where there were also many immigrants living. The Tzu-chi Temple was built in 1701. Later, when it was renovated in 1860, the temple hired Ye Wang to decorate the walls, exterior walls, and roof of the temple with Koji pottery; Ye Wang crafted more than 200 pieces of pottery. However, between 1980 and 2003, 56 pieces of Koji pottery were stolen from the temple. In 2003, after buying some of the stolen pieces at auction, the Aurora Group was able to return 36 of the stolen pieces.
To prevent further theft, the Tzu-chi Temple set up the Ye Wang Koji Pottery Exhibition Room to preserve and display Ye Wang’s works, and asked Lin Kuang-I, a Koji pottery artisan, to recreate them and place them in the same place as the original Ye Wang Koji pottery.