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Ceramics Festival of Gimhae

Festival Name The Ceramics Festival of Gimhae (Website: http://festival.buncheong.net)
When Late October of each year
Programs Eve of the Festival, Participate in the Ceramics Area, Ceramics Class, Students Ceramics Contest, My Own Ceramics Corner, Find the Real and High Value Items, Sampling of Yellow Tea, and other cultural and arts events
Location Gimhae City Jinryemyeon, Songjeongri area
Organizer (사) Gimhae Ceramics Association (Telephone: 345-6036)

Introduction

A ceramics festival is organized for late October of each year to develop and promote Gimhae ceramics, which was developed from Gaya earthenware used by the ancestors who lived in Gaya Kingdom, in order to improve the regional economy. During the festival, a traditional furnace is set up and heated so that the visitors can see the process of making ceramics. Also, potteries that has been made directly from the furnace during the festival are sold by auction to the visitors.
Moreover, there is a section where visitors can make potteries on their own. Another event gives them the opportunity to identify a real pottery from others on display, and if the real one is selected, the visitor an keep it for himself or herself and if a phony pottery is selected, the visitor can break it on the spot. These events are very popular and provide fun activities during the festival. Also, ceramic ware are sold at original cost during the festival.

Origin

Unlike the blue and white porcelains of Icheon of Gyeonggi Province or Gangjin's Celadon Festival, the Gimhae Ceramics Festival celebrates the Buncheong porcelain, which is considered by many as the prototype of Korean aesthetics. Buncheong porcelain constitutes one of the ceramic wares used for everyday purposes and an intermediary stage between the blue porcelain and the white porcelain. The flowering of Buncheong porcelains took place during the 15th and 16th centuries. While the shape may be crude, the form and pattern are free and the expression is unfettered and at the same time true to life. As such, the porcelains are well known as not only appealing to the ordinary people but also as superior in artistic quality. Continuing on the tradition of Gaya Kingdom of 2,000 years ago, the Buncheong porcelain of Gimhae region has occupied the center of everyday porcelain since the Joseon era. However, as after the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592, potters began to lose their former attraction.
It was only 40 years ago that Buncheong porcelain began to gain public attention once again. As the fragrance of 2,000 years of Gaya earthenware began to gather one by one potters and scholars scattered across the country, the recovery process began to take on a concrete shape. Subsequently, Gimhae not only rediscovered the light and colors of Buncheong porcelain but also for all intents and purposes is developing as our country's foremost ceramics village for Buncheong porcelain.
Buncheong porcelain may look somewhat incomplete at first sight but in reality boasts artistic beauty of highest quality. Also, the porcelain has lemon yellow texture that is warm and forlorn at the same time. Such a porcelain has traveled against the passage of 400 years of time to be resurrected again today as a new entity.

About the Festival

The above section provides the reasons as to why a ceramics festival is organized under the theme, "People Who Instill a Soul into Clay". The key program of the festival is the Ceremony Wishing the Festival's Success, and fireworks will light up the eve of the festival. On the last day, porcelain baked in traditional furnace will be sold by auction. Other programs include Heating the Traditional Furnace, Ceramics Class, Student Ceramics Contest, Making My Own Ceramics, and Find the Real and High Value Porcelain. The festival also has much else to offer including the Porcelain PR Hall and Revived Gaya Earthenware Exhibition Hall.
At the place where Heating the Traditional Furnace takes place, the visitors can see for themselves how porcelain is baked and manufactured. At the Making My Own Porcelain section, visitors can bake the porcelain themselves or engrave their own pictures or letters on the porcelain that has undergone the primary stage of baking. Upon the visitors' request, such porcelain can then be further baked and delivered to them.
At the newly built section where the Finding the Real and High Value Porcelain event takes place, visitors are given the opportunity to earn a high worth porcelain for free. Real and forged porcelains are mixed together and the visitors are asked to find the real one. If they do so, they win the real porcelain, and if they do not, they can break the forged one on the spot.
Also, during the festival, visitors can purchase porcelain at 30%~40% discounted price and can also take a trip to a nearby ceramics factory.
The festival is held in Jinryemyeon Songjeongri, which is a village located a short distance away from Gimhae City.

About the Gimhae Porcelain

Unlike blue and white porcelains, Buncheong porcelains functioned as an object for everyday use and was expressed as people's pottery. From the 14th century to mid 15th century, Buncheong porcelain was at its height of popularity as it employed an extensive range of techniques. The porcelain enabled Korea's culture to progress and acquire many of its unique features.
Further, as descendants of the Gayans, we have organized the Ceramics Festival of Gimhae in October of every year since 1996 in order to continue and develop the wisdom and soul of our ancestors to the present day.

The glaze used for Buncheong porcelain is raw milk that can be obtained from nature and is an amalgamation of ash acquired from burnt pine tree, limestone, and clay. The main component making up the porcelain is feldspar. Still, the quality and surface color of the body clay varies according to the place of origin of the clay and the method of combining body clay and glaze. Also, the make up technique can be organized into 7 categories.
They are 1) inlaid technique, 2) print technique, 3) thin paper technique, 4) intaglio technique, 5) underglaze iron painting technique, 6) paint brush technique, and 7) immersion make up technique.

Therefore, the ceramists of our Gimhae, the cradle of Gaya culture, are making significant contribution toward the continued progress of Korea's ceramic technology with their in depth research on ceramic ware and active manufacturing efforts for the purpose of reviving Gaya earthenware. Buncheong porcelain, which is baked in a furnace that is heated up by the fire in which the soul of the potter is instilled in order to breathe life into the clay, is presently gaining reputation as a special merchandise of Gimhae.
We can experience traditional culture in porcelain used for everyday purpose. Also, we who live in a modern world, are not content with simply preserving the culture bequeathed to us by our ancestors. Instead, all of our ceramists conducting more research and are investing their best efforts to produce porcelain of unique to the region in order to develop new technology and artistic worth. Ceramic ware are created in this way. Care and more care are shown when kneading the clay dough and for 3 days and nights, the ceramists keep the fire of the furnace burning. Then, the clay baked in the furnace of bright ashes are given a new life as a porcelain. This is one of the reasons why ceramics festival are often called, 'The festival of clay, fire, and human soul'.