Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Master Potter

These earthenware are called “burnay”. The industry that has grown from the making of burnay dates back to pre-colonial times when immigrants from China came to settle in Vigan, Ilocos Region, the Philippines. They practiced the craft of making earthenware using the grade A clay that was found in plenty in the Western area of Vigan. 

The making of burnay is done with just the use of the potter’s skillful hands and use of pottery wheel and kiln. Fine sand is used to temper the clay, which once fashioned into the desired shape is placed inside high-temperature ground kilns made from brick and clay. Compared to terracotta, people say that the burnay is hardier, and definitely sturdier.

 (the potter's hands skillfully forming a uniquely shaped vessel)

 (pots are now being air-dried before they are being baked in kilns)

 Burnay jars were first introduced to me by my mother-in-law, oh way back in the early 90’s.  Since then, I have always been fascinated by its unique shape and make.  So when my family visited the Philippines in July this year, it was such a privilege and interesting to witness how they were made: firstly, a slap a lump of clay placed firmly on the potter’s wheel followed by some human “kick power” to get the potter’s wheel turning at a pretty impressive speed whilst a pair of expert hands started to form a uniquely shaped vessel.  These pots are then air-dried before they are baked in traditional century old kilns fired up by wood. 

 (the end product product - heavy, sturdy, dark jars ready for the market)

I am so happy to be able to hand-carry a few miniature pots back to Perth, now my home.  These pots are about 3 inches in height and barely 2 inches in diameter. Yes, they are old, each weighing about 220-250 grams.

(the century old kiln fired up by chunks of wood)

Amazing how each of us were fashioned by the hands of God Himself.  We are uniquely crafted, and perfectly designed by our loving Father in Heaven.  The problem for people has always been sin.  Sin seeks to redesign our hearts and minds through lies, deception, and temptation.  In Christ, our sin is paid for, and we are offered the chisel of the Holy Spirit who resides in us!  

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”  Isa. 54:8

My prayer: “Holy Spirit, please lead us and change our hearts to be for God.  Lord God, re-shape us and make us new once more.  You are our master potter after all.  If we are broken in some way, You can most surely make it right!  Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Color: Dark Clay

The pictures taken here are the traditional pottery making in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines.  July 2013

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