One of the last two dragons of Singapore, the Thow Kwang dragon kiln, was brought to life over the weekend, its flames fed by a team of potters and volunteers working through the night. The use of such kilns, a tradition imported by the Teochew community, served a necessary purpose in the production of latex cups in the days when rubber plantations covered large parts of Singapore’s rural landscape. At its height, the would be kept running with little pause through a cycle of packing, firing, cooling and unpacking that would take place up to four times a month.
With the end of rubber production on the island, many kilns lost their relevance. Some turned to making flower pots in the 1980s, a decade that saw many others forced to close. Today, only the former Guan Huat and Thow Kwang kilns, both of which are located off Jalan Bahar, have survived.
Fired by those with the passion to keep an age-old tradition alive, for now at least the dragons still breathe. The kilns operate on land that the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) now owns, are on an extension to their respective leases that could see them used up to 2023/2024, beyond which, little is known of what will become of them.
To learn more about the kiln, how it is fired and also the art of wood-fired pottery, there is a wonderful app (only for iPad at the moment) that can be downloaded at Dragon Fire.
More information on the Thow Kwang kiln and its previous firings and some of the preparatory work that goes on before a kiln is fired, do also visit some of my previous posts:
- The dragon comes alive for Mid-Autumn
- The dragons live on
- A dragon draws breath
- Another bit of paradise soon to be lost
- Into the belly of the Dragon