At one time Singapore had 30 dragon kilns, today only 2 remain. These are long, wood fired kilns which were used widely across China in the 1900s to fire ceramics. At one end there is the dragon head, where the fire is started. The body of the dragon then flows up a gentle hill so that the heat will rise through the kiln. Wood is fed in through the stoke holes (the dragon eyes) along the side. At the end is a chimney representing the dragon tail which is also the highest point.
The semi circular roof ensures that the heat circulates. Apparently an experienced potter could work out the temperature just by looking at the colour of the flames through the stoke holes.
To give some idea of size, you can see you could easily stand up inside and the length is 36 meters. Apparently in China they would build kilns of up to 100m in length. The kiln is fired for 30 hours and then left for a week or more to cool.
The spots are reflections from the flash catching shinny spots on the kiln walls.
We even got to make our own pots, my first ever attempt, I don’t think I should give up the day job! We will get these back later once they have been fired.
The Singapore kilns are now only fired once a year and a whole celebration is carried out when and after it is lit. This is very much about harnessing the power of the fire and respecting it and in Singapore many school and community projects are involved in making items to fill the kiln.
Really enjoyed seeing this unusually piece of Singapore history and getting my hands dirty on the clay.