Firing the Emperor's Kiln

Firing the Emperor's Kiln
A Documentary by Le Le Wang Burns
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About the project
LOCKLINEMs Jin Jin, a former school teacher, has an amazing family connection to China's Imperial past, because she knows how to turn clay into 'gold'.

The Forbidden City

 

How do you turn a lump of clay into something worth about €88,000? 

 

There’s a former school teacher in Suzhou, China, Ms JIN Jin, who knows how. The secret has been passed down through her family for over 600 years. It is a story that began with the construction of the Ming Emperor's Imperial Palace (’The Forbidden City’) in Beijing in 1406. It continued with her ancestors for the next 500 years, until it was assumed that the secret had been lost with the demise of Imperial China. However, one day the curators at the Palace Museum made a remarkable discovery. This eventually led them to Ms Jin - to all appearances an ordinary primary school teacher, in Suzhou. 

 

‘Firing the Emperor’s Kiln' is an amazing story. It begins in the early days of the Ming Dynasty, and leads us to modern day Suzhou - the 'Venice of the East’. The Suzhou school teacher will tell us her fascinating story, and we will explore, and record for prosperity, the quite extraordinary process that converts clay into veritable gold.

 

Le Le and Ms Jin

 

Quote that inspired the maker

The cost of making these bricks was astronomical - just one was enough to feed a three-person family for six months!
Shen Li. China Central Television News