Do you know Zhu Danchen, Master of calligraphy on ceramics?

Zhu Danchen, the inheritor of the national intangible cultural heritage project "Jingdezhen Handmade Porcelain Skills-Ceramic Calligraphy", started his acquaintance with ceramic calligraphy through love, and then he continued to work for decades. He said that taking the road of calligraphy was dictated by both the times and fate, as if there was a long story behind it, and this story haunted him throughout his life.

1000 (8).jpeg

The artistic collision of mud, fire and ink

For many people, what kind of path a person chooses in his life may have been foreshadowed in his ignorant boyhood. He often writes a long story from a simple beginning to form the core of this person's career.

Zhu Danchen grew up in Jingdezhen, and his father was a ceramic calligraphy craftsman (he was a ceramic calligraphy artist in the Jingdezhen Art Porcelain Factory Beauty Research Office during his lifetime). Under the influence of his father's words and deeds and the cultural atmosphere of Jingdezhen, Zhu Danchen loved him since childhood. Chinese calligraphy, he learned Yanliu regular script when he was in elementary school. It can be said that when he first learned Chinese characters, it was the beginning of learning calligraphy. After junior high school, his father gave him a set of materials for learning ceramic calligraphy, and he began to learn ceramics. The use of pigments, and writing "Thousand Characters" in official script on a porcelain plate as a teaching material for temporary study, and later forged an indissoluble bond with ceramic calligraphy.

1000 (1).png

"My father never asked me to learn ceramic calligraphy, and my son inherited his father's business. After my father saw my love for ceramic calligraphy, he began to teach me. It was only after in-depth contact that he knew the infinite charm of calligraphy." Zhu Dan Chen said. In 1974, Zhu Danchen's father passed away, and all the burdens of the family fell on Zhu Danchen, the eldest son. Fortunately, he had the opportunity to replace his father and work in an art porcelain factory. In 1976, Zhu Danchen, who inherited his father's business, entered the porcelain factory and worked there for 10 years in ceramic calligraphy. During this period, he benefited a lot from the guidance of Xu Xianzhi, an old ceramic calligraphy artist.

In his youth, Zhu Danchen cherished this job very much, because it can not only solve the urgent needs of family difficulties, but also his own interests. It can be said that it was this unique emotion that initially stabilized his heart, which made him repay the energy brought by this profession with the same enthusiasm and energy, and thus devoted himself to the exploration and creation of calligraphy. Because of this, Zhu Danchen deeply appreciates the unique artistic charm of ceramic calligraphy, "between a painting, it fluctuates in the peaks and ends; in a point, it is especially frustrated in the slightest".


In the era of planned economy at that time, the apprentices in the porcelain factory could only learn the craft from a master, and they have been engaged in this craft since they finished their studies. The ancients said: "Painting can't be without poetry, poetry can't be without books, books can't be without prints, and the four completeness is rhythm." At that time, ceramic calligraphy was more used for writing and writing. In the principle of "Inspiration for Printing", ceramic calligraphy is always just a "supporting role". Although many people think that the ceramic art in Jingdezhen should not be limited by this kind of distinction, but few people regard calligraphy as a " protagonist" to create.

In addition to completing the daily task of 1,500 hundred words, Zhu Danchen always felt that by looking through the notebook left by his father full of various words and the guidance of his master, he was missing something in the creation, and finally let him wait for one. The opportunity also made him understand what was missing.

In 1985, Zhu Danchen participated in the calligraphy department of the Chinese Calligraphy and Painting Correspondence University Jiangxi Branch, and was instructed by many calligraphy predecessors to conduct systematic research on traditional calligraphy art. The following year, he was introduced by the Municipal Cultural Bureau as a calligraphy professional. Mass Art Museum, organized calligraphy and painting Handa Jingdezhen branch, engaged in the research and education of calligraphy, during which he also served as a calligraphy teacher at Jingdezhen Children's Literature and Art School.

During this period, Zhu Danchen studied Yan Zhenqing's "Duobaota Stele" and "Magu Xiantan Ji" in regular script, Ouyang Xun's "Jiucheng Palace" and "Zhang Menglong", the Northern Wei steles; Wang Xizhi's "Orchid Pavilion Preface" in cursive script; Wang Xizhi's "Seventeen" in cursive script Post” and Sun Guoting’s “Book Books”; official script takes the meaning of “Caoquan Stele” and “Huashan Stele”; seal script has the method of Wu Dazheng in “Shigu Wen”; small script is deeply influenced by Zhong Shaojing and Zhao Mengfu’s “Ji An Biography”. This made him even more at ease in his subsequent creations.

After extensive research and practice of calligraphy art, Zhu Danchen gradually formed his own artistic style. Because of his deep calligraphy skills, the decoration with traditional calligraphy on ceramics is even more diverse. He makes full use of the material beauty of ceramic color glaze, and adopts a variety of expression techniques to show his self-interest.

1000 (1).jpeg

The Art of Immortal Ceramic Calligraphy

As the quintessence of China, ceramics, in a sense, witnesses the development of human civilization, and the origin of the combination of ceramics and characters in history is even more ancient.

Ceramic calligraphy, as the name suggests, is calligraphy expressed on ceramics. It is an ancient and unique traditional Chinese art that is unique in the world. In fact, in ancient China, pottery patterns already appeared during the pottery culture period, but because there is no text, it is not called calligraphy. It was not until the appearance of writing, coupled with China's unique porcelain-making technology, that craftsmen could write, paint, and even sculpt on porcelain, and there is real ceramic calligraphy today.

Ceramics is the art of mud and fire, and calligraphy is the art of pen and ink. Ceramics and calligraphy have a profound historical origin since ancient times, and both have the same artistic characteristics. Ceramic calligraphy solves the problem that traditional paper calligraphy is not easy to preserve, and is called "immortal calligraphy art".

1000 (4).jpeg

Zhu Danchen has been thinking about the combination of ceramics and calligraphy since the 1990s. He regards it as an independent art form and explores its own rich artistic language. Of course, he is not alone in this kind of thinking. He absorbs traditional decorative techniques to explore the many possibilities of the beauty of ceramic calligraphy.

"Ceramics are the business card of Jingdezhen. Especially since the reform and opening up, artistic ceramics have achieved unprecedented development. It can be said that a hundred schools of thought contend and a hundred flowers bloom. But most of the artistic ceramics we see are mainly landscapes, flowers and birds, figures, etc., while calligraphy is only a As the inscription embellishing the picture, there are few ceramic works with calligraphy as the main body of expression, and high-level ceramic calligraphy works are even rarer." Zhu Danchen clearly saw the phenomenon of Jingdezhen ceramics valuing painting over writing, and was determined to make a In the ceramic garden with hundreds of flowers blooming, a sky belonging to calligraphy has opened up.

Zhu Danchen's ceramic calligraphy has complementary inscriptions and poems to his porcelain paintings, but most of them appear as an independent art form. The oracle bone inscriptions engraved on the tiles, the Qin seals decorated with Chengni inkstones, the underglaze blue and white small letters, the overglaze pearls and Shu embroidery foreheads, etc. It not only retains the flowing beauty of ceramic materials, but also the rhythmic beauty of the combination of shape and decoration; it not only has a strong traditional heritage, but also has a distinct personality of the times. It should be said that Zhu Danchen's calligraphy is from the ancients, but he is not conservative in his love for the ancients. He has collected many ancient rubbings, calligraphy and paintings, and talks with the ancients every day, but he always absorbs the fresh air of the times.

Elegance, ambiguity, simplicity, peace, and simplicity are the artistic styles he has explored in inkstone for decades. However, in Zhu Danchen's eyes, the physical structure of different characters and the gradual change of the brush and ink program should first have an orderly development trajectory, and then the style of individuality and publicity. Perhaps the deep-seated elements of Zhu Danchen's ceramic calligraphy are here.

Zhu Danchen told reporters that under modern conditions, ceramics and calligraphy art are increasingly complementing each other. Different ceramic shapes can be decorated with calligraphy that is in harmony with their styles, so that ceramic art can be icing on the cake. Shows lustrous luster.

1000 (2).jpeg

Ceramic calligraphy not only requires the artist's calligraphy skills, but also needs to consider many factors in the selection of porcelain. Porcelain plates are required to be smooth and clean, not bent or warped, pure and uniform in color, and without color barriers. The three-dimensional shape requires that the firing is intact, and its shape and color are conducive to processing. The design of ceramic calligraphy works should also take into account its aesthetics, originality and practicality. This is a comprehensive reflection of the creator's cultural literacy, aesthetic sentiment, ideological realm, calligraphy skills and craftsmanship. The quality of the design is directly related to the success or failure of the work.

"Calligraphy on porcelain should be dense and orderly, with appropriate shades, and the color of the porcelain plate and the color of the fonts are also subject to university questions. In the words of a layman, it should be comfortable to look at and not obtrusive," Zhu Danchen said.

1000 (3).jpeg

Living Inheritance of Intangible Cultural Heritage

In these years, Zhu Danchen has dared to break through and innovate on the basis of inheriting the tradition. He incorporates effects such as carving and decoration, and selects the content of calligraphy according to the shape of the device. Such calligraphy has rhythm, style and interest. Although he has been in this field for decades, he is still exploring the mysteries of ceramic calligraphy. He said that calligraphy alone has made people addicted and worth exploring in a lifetime, and the combination of ceramics and calligraphy has endless mysteries and fun.

Daughter Zhu Xirui is an heir greatly influenced by Zhu Danchen. She graduated from Jingdezhen Ceramics University and is currently teaching at Jingdezhen College. Because of the different times, Zhu Xirui created ceramic calligraphy from a broader perspective, and advocated integrating the beauty of ceramics into life, making art live, and gradually forming his own theoretical system. The father-daughter duo's views on ceramic calligraphy are not the artistic collision of two generations.