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History of Aw Pottery

Peggy Loh's Blogspot

Malaysian writer Peggy Loh revisits
aw pottery factory in Malaysia

sculpture photo

Albert Aw in 1960, with a sculpture
by our father, Eng Kwang Aw

potter photo

Paddling the pot to even out the wall
and strengthen the urn

Loading the Kiln

Twenty three years ago my father began Aw Pottery in America. His name was Eng Kwang. He was a sculptor and a potter. He settled in Berkeley. His first customers there were interior and garden designers. They were enthusiastic about his work but they wanted more than he could produce. To his surprise they were more interested in his rough and rambunctious sculptures than in the fine glazed pottery he sold.

He had learned his sculpture as a boy almost sixty years before. Left over bits of clay at a local pottery were put into making stoic warriors, mothers, laughing round cheeked children, noble women with parasols, farmers and buffalo.

Eng Kwang had seen the potters at work when he was just a boy. Powerful backs and firm hands forming the enormous coils of wet clay into great, coarse vessels. Hand dipped into wide ditches of creamy ash glaze. Dried, when the rains allowed, and then piled one upon another into the long low kilns that snake up the hill. Pine needles heaped into the kiln. A fire burning for days. Sweet smoke. Glowing heat.

He had seen these vessels in every home and yard. Used for storing rice, and water, and oil, and brewing soy-sauce. They were even used for storing clothes. Ubiquitous, as in most rural societies, earthenware containers are not noticed as objects of beauty but are simply and invisibly there.

Eng Kwang asked to buy some of these vessels and send them to America. It was perfect. Western gardeners work in many styles. These rough hewn, unadorned pots work in myriad visions. They are undefined by style yet they are classical. Like old olive jars they provide scale and history. Tools for the artist.

Father used the first pots in his own garden of jade plants and bouganvillea.

Lee Lang Aw
inside dragon kiln phohto

Inside the Dragon Kiln at Aw Pottery Malaysia

valley photo

The Valley of the Snake Kiln in Central China

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