The Pottery Kilns at Wun Yiu, Tai Po

The following article, The Pottery Kilns at Wun Yiu, Tai Po, by J.W. Hayes, was first published in the 1975 Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch.

HF: I have retyped the article to aid clarity and website searches.

Thanks to SCT for proofreading the retyped version.

Notes and Queries

The Pottery Kilns at Wun Yiu, Tai Po

Wun Yiu, Po, Porcelain Making

Wun Yiu, Tai Po Image Courtesy: chestnutjournal.com

So far as I know, the printed official papers of the Hong Kong Government contain only a few references to these local kilns. They all relate to the period 1899-1912 and in chronological order are as follows:-

(a) “One village we visited was engaged entirely in the manufactury of pottery, the clay for which is found in the mountain immediately above the village. The villages are said to have learned the art of manufacturing pottery from an Italian missionary who formerly resided among them.” J.H. Lockhart’s Report on the New Territory, Hongkong Government Gazette, 8 April 1899 p544.

(b) “The pottery works at Un Iu near Tai Po manufacture very coarse ware for export to Kong Mun and local use. The trade done is quite small.” Eastern No. 88, Correspondence relating to the Kowloon-Canton Railway (London Colonial Office, 1907) Enclosure B to No. 59 to Lyttelton, 11 January 1905.

(c) The only Potteries are at Wun Iu near Taipo, about 400,000 pots, rice bowls and plates are here turned out every year, of an average value of 6 cash each; most of them are exported to Tam Shui in Chinese Territory; some also to Hongkong.” G.N. Orme. “Report on the New Territories 1899-1912” Sessional Papers 1912. para. 83, p55.

There were at least two kilns. One of these was built over some years ago for a school extension.  The other, or part of it, is still yo be seen. There are said to be others in the area.

A temple dedicated to Fan Sin Kung stands near the site of the kilns. It is in good repair and contains commemorative tablets showing a major repair or reconstruction in 1997-98 and 1925-26. A large Roman Catholic chapel, now in ruins, once stood close by. It is shown as being in existence in Father Volonteri’s 1866 map of the San On District – see JHKBRAS Vols 9 & 10 (1969 & 1970), pp. 141-148 and 193-196 respectively – but unfortunately receives no mention in Father Ryan’s The Story of A Hundred Years. The Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (P.I.M.E.) in Hong Kong 1858-1958.

Hong Kong 1975                                                      James Hayes

This article was first posted on 17th July 2022.

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