Dragon boats, Zongzi, and a table full of glaze ware.

We just celebrated the Chinese Dragon Boat festival. This public holiday has many origins but the most repeated is the story of the poet, Qu Yuan. The "story holds that the festival commemorates the death of poet Qu Yuan (Chinese屈原) (c. 340 BCE – 278 BCE) of the ancient state of Chu, in the Warring States Period of the Zhou Dynasty.[5] A descendant of the Chu royal house, Qu served in high offices. However, when the king decided to ally with the increasingly powerful state of Qin, Qu was banished for opposing the alliance. Qu Yuan was accused of treason.[5] During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of poetry, for which he is now remembered. Twenty-eight years later, Qin conquered the capital of Chu. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

It is said that the local people, who admired him, threw lumps of rice into the river to feed the fish so that they would not eat Qu Yuan's body.[5] This is said to be the origin of zongzi. The local people were also said to have paddled out on boats, either to scare the fish away or to retrieve his body. This is said to be the origin of dragon boat racing." (Excerpt from Wikipedia Duan Wu festival)

It was raining hard for most of the day so I didn't head out to see any dragon boat races. These races involve twenty-man teams that furiously paddle to propel a longboat through the water. They are held in the Shanghai area but they pale in comparison to races held in other Asian regions. Hong Kong has multiple races spread around the surrounding islands that have as many as 30,000 participants a year. (click here for details) Although the Dragon Boat tradition is of Chinese origin cultures from all over the world have been using long boats for racing and travel for thousands of years.The Maori used a similar style boat to explore the south pacific before finally settling in New Zealand in the late 1200's A.D.

Another Dragon Boat tradition involves the serving of Zongzi. A sticky rice mixture is packed around meat, or fruit, and wrapped in a banana leaf. They are tied together in a triangular shape with thin strips of the banana leaf. The presentation is a beautiful study in food art. Zongzi would be great for drawing classes with their diagonal lines and rice textures. 

Most of my dragon boat festival was spent glazing. I had a serious back log of bisque that needed attention. After years of complicated glaze schemes I have moved all my decoration to the slip stage. This makes glazing so much faster. One month of making/decorating turns into one day of glazing.

For you guys that are working at mid-range here is our PWS white satin. It is a variation of VC White that we have altered to melt lower. We fire it to cone seven where it develops a smooth stone-like surface. Let me know if it works out for you.


  1. new to your blog I hope you don't mind if I poke around.
    And that rice looks so tasty!

  2. Welcome. I'm glad to have you. The rice in that Zongzi was tasty. I have had rice cooked in 30 or 40 different ways. Amazing to see how a staple food can be prepared so many different ways.