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Story of the Month - May 2018

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

CUHCM Fellow Professor Sharon Wong’s recent study concerns the only complete Dragon Kiln in Hong Kong, Castle Peak Dragon Kiln, Tuen Mun. It was initially inspired by her observations of the conservation issue of dragon kilns in Singapore, which she came across while doing her PhD in National University of Singapore. Of the several Dragon Kilns in Singapore, unfortunately, only two, the Thow Kwang Dragon Kiln and Guan Huat Dragon Kiln, are still functioning today. She conducted interviews with the Chua family of Sam Mui Kuang Pottery and learned that the dragon kiln in Sam Mui Kuang was demolished because of urban development in the 1990s. The stories of dragon kilns in Singapore inspired her to embark on a project exploring issues of conservation and cultural heritage in city development in Hong Kong and South China.

城市歷史文化與媒體研究中心成員黃慧怡教授,對香港的屯門青山龍窯開展的研究, 主要受到新加坡龍窯保育問題的啟發。她在新加坡國立大學修讀博士學位期間,有機會考察當地龍窯,可惜除了「陶光」與「源發」兩條龍窯至今仍保存並使用外,其他龍窯在城市發展過程中並沒有保存下來。黃教授訪問了新加坡「三美光」陶瓷的蔡氏一家,他們家的龍窯在1990年代因城市發展被拆除。新加坡龍窯的故事啟發了黃教授開展這個研究計劃,從龍窯探討文化遺產保育與香港及華南城市發展的關係。

Professor Wong strongly opines that cultural heritage conservation and urban sustainable development are not necessarily opposing forces but can potentially be aligned, by focusing on heritage as a means to connect with people. Many are of the opinion that history and cultural heritage is a thing of the past, and irrelevant with the present. However, Professor Wong argues that cultural heritage could provide people, especially those experiencing rapid urban development, a new cultural identity based on the emotional link with cultural heritage and shared collective memories of the past.


The Castle Peak Dragon Kiln in Tuen Mun was built in the 1940s. But ceased production in the early 1980s. However, its conditions remain excellent for conservation as a memory of Hong Kong as a key site for ceramics production. The Castle Peak Dragon Kiln had in the past served as a key site for the amalgam of traditional ceramics expertise from Shiwan, Guangdong, to Hong Kong. It was identified by the Hong Kong Government in the 1980s as a potential living museum. Today, with the upcoming Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge linking different cities in the Pearl River Delta, the Castle Peak Dragon Kiln sitting en route can potentially become a place that evokes routes of material and cultural exchanges in the past as well as present, with Hong Kong being the estuary of these exchanges.


The Castle Peak Dragon Kiln effectively embodies Hong Kong as a place of many but one - not just in terms of the physical location, but also in different kinds of Shiwan ceramic products all fired in one kiln. Embedded in this rich history, this strong cultural legacy of Hong Kong manifested in ceramic production could help us better understand the Hong Kong of today.


If more resources could be directed into conserving Castle Peak Dragon Kiln as a heritage site, Professor Wong argues, there is great potential for promoting the local arts and heritage scene, especially with regards to ceramics.


Inner Part of Castle Peak Dragon Kiln, Tuen Mun (Photo credit: Sharon Wong)



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