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Recent Archaeological Discoveries


Wun Yiu Kiln Site, Tai Po

Wun Yiu Village

Wun Yiu Village is located at the south-west of Tai Po Market. Since its surrounding hills are densely wooded with abundant water resources and, most importantly, rich in kaolin deposits, it is an ideal site for manufacturing porcelain wares. Historical documents recorded that during Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD), members of the Man and Tse clans had already started the blue-and-white porcelain manufacturing industry in Wun Yiu.

In 1662, the Qing court enforced an Evacuation Edict in which the coastal population was ordered to move 50 li (one li is equivalent to approximately 500 meters) inland. The edict depleted the region and uprooted local communities, and the porcelain industry at Wun Yiu stopped abruptly. The edict was eventually rescinded in 1669 and the coastal population returned subsequently. However, the kilns in Wun Yiu remained unattended.

After the lifting of the Evacuation Edict, the Ma clan, a group of Hakka people originating from Changle County in Guangdong Province, settled in Tai Po. In 1674, they purchased the kilns in Wun Yiu from the Man clan. The porcelain industry prospered in Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911 AD) under the Ma's management and its products were exported as far as to the Jiangmen area in Guangdong. The industry, however, declined in the early 20th century due to strong competition from inexpensive porcelain wares from other coastal kilns in Guangdong. The kilns at Wun Yiu finally ceased to operate in 1932.

Two archaeological investigations were conducted at the Wun Yiu Kiln Site in 1995 and 1999 respectively. Well-preserved structures including clay quarrying pits, water mills, an animal-driven grinder, clay-soaking tanks, paste-making workshops and dragon kilns were discovered. They illustrate the complete process of porcelain production and are in fact a very rare archaeological discovery in relation to the history of porcelain production in China. Since the Wun Yiu Kiln Site is such an important archaeological heritage of Hong Kong, it is being well protected and studied to enhance its values on education and tourism.

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