The Ancient Pottery Town of Chenlu is on top of a mountain, 15 km southeast of the Yintai District of Tongchuan City. It stands as a small town named “Chen Lu”, but actually, it is an ancient ceramic village in the mountainous area of Shaanxi Province, between the GuanZhong Flatlands and the North Shaan'xi Plateau. The town was named such because of its importance in the history of porcelain making.
Chen Lu, the only well preserved YaoZhou porcelain kiln site, can be called a living fossil of an oriental porcelain town. The ancient town is rich in porcelain culture and history, ceramic art, and folk customs. Wandering about in the town, one can still sense the past with its ancient kilns and artifacts and their fragments scattered all around. Chen Lu is about 30 km from the Yanzhou Kiln Museum. Chen Lu is regarded as the capital of celadon in the north of China. With many kiln sites, Chen Lu, an ancient ceramic town, is approximately 20 kilometers southeast of downtown Tongchuan in the mountainous area of Shaanxi Province, about two hours' driving from Xi'an.
In Chinese, "Chen" means "display" and "Lu" means "oven" or "kiln". So Chen Lu is a town for displaying kilns. The kiln sites have been laid one after another since the Song Dynasty. About 1,000 years ago, the first kiln was built in the town, while now there are still some ancient kiln sites preserved and most of the residents here are engaged in ceramic business.
Chen Lu has been the most important ceramic industry base in Northwest China. For a thousand years, traditional porcelain manufacture technique has been passed down generation by generation. The fire flames from the kilns have never been extinguished. Chen Lu has made a miracle in the history of China Ceramics. Nowadays almost every resident at Chen Lu is a ceramic artist. Every family opens a ceramic workshop. Each dwelling house is enclosed by abandoned pottery molds, abandoned ceramic utensils. These ceramic utensils' walls in brown, white, and yellow form a huge oil painting.
At the entrance of the town lies a museum, telling the history of Chen Lu and exhibiting typical porcelain and pottery objects made in Chen Lu. Its products at present are mainly used for daily utensils, display, worship, and ornaments in various glazed colors such as blue-black, white and tea leaves color, etc. The folk customs are closely related to pottery making.
The living houses in the town are very unique and cultural. The style is called "Yao Dong". "Yao" means "kiln", "Dong" means "cave". The brick-built houses usually are built halfway into the hillside. The ceilings are usually curved like an arch. This smart design is cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The bed the residents use is called "Kang", which is a brick-built bed with a fireplace underneath. The walls around the yards are usually made out of broken jars or pots.
When you are in Chen Lu pottery-making town, you can visit the porcelain workshops, realize the folk pottery art and the local lifestyle of people who still live in cave-dwelling houses on the loess plateau in North Shannxi province.
1/ Chen Lu Town is in the same town as Yao Zhou Kiln Museum, so you might want to spend the morning in the town, take a lunch at the restaurant nearby the Tong Chuan bus station, then visit the museum in the afternoon, take a train back to Xian at the late afternoon.
2/ It took us about an afternoon like 3-4 hours to visit the town and some walking on the hill. So, make sure to bring some snacks, water, and an umbrella.
3/ We traveled to this town around 2013, Hope it still remains more or less the same when you visit. Let us know if you like this place or any updates.