Qianshu Dragon Kiln 前墅龙窑, the ancient kiln was founded in Ming Dynasty and has been burning ever since. It is the only ancient dragon kiln in Yixing area that still burns ceramics by traditional methods, also called the last living dragon kiln in Yixing. The ancient dragon kiln is hidden in the village of Qianshu village, which is surrounded by ordinary people. The dragon kiln is built on the natural hillside and looks like a huge long winding dragon.
This ancient dragon kiln is about 50 meters long from the north to the south. The inner wall of the kiln is arched with refractory bricks, and the outer wall is covered with block stones and the unique clay from the Taihu Lake.
There are 42 pairs of firewood holes (commonly known as scale hole) on the left and right sides of the kiln body. These holes are windows for the fuel injection and flame temperature observation. The firing temperature of Zisha is about 1150 ℃, so-called thousand degree pottery.
There are 5 Hukou (kiln door) for kiln installation on the west side, which are the passageway for kiln workers to get in and out of ceramic products. On the kiln body, there are kiln shed, granite column, wooden beam frame and small shingles. The fuel is mainly coal, pine, bamboo, etc. .
Kiln workers tell us that Qianshu Longyao is the longest and oldest kiln for firing Zisha articles, mainly firing teapots, pots, jars and other coarse pottery for daily necessities. The firing principle of this 32 degree slope Longyao is that it can make the fire rise naturally from the bottom to the top, which is very energy-saving. While the kiln tail is still burning, and the kiln head can be discharged.
Zisha pottery articles are covered by saggers 匣钵 during firing to avoid direct contacts with fire and ashes, in case of dropping ash marks or leaving fire traces on the articles’ surface. We found a strange wooden stool with only three legs, two long and one short. The difference between the front and back legs coincides with the inclination of the kiln tunnel, making the stool surface horizontal. It is said that the three legs fixed at three points help to keep it in order by the uneven kiln ground. From this small detail, we can see the cleverness of ancient kiln workers.
At the site of the kiln opening ceremony, the kiln workers of Qianshu dragon kiln worshiped the God of fire 火神, and the performers played gongs and lanterns to inspire the dragon, and sang a big play on the stage, praying for the kiln fire to flourish and burn smoothly.