Vin de Hakka 家.釀: Ceramic art by Ray CHAN See Kwong

See Kwong Chan (Designer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


Ceramic artist Ray Chan See Kwong has always loved searching for beginnings in traditions, finding inspiration from it, and recasting the old in new light. What attracted his attention this time was the brewing of Hakka rice wine (yellow wine). The Hakka’s were the only ethnic group not to be named after a geographical region, and was historically a tribe that migrated southward (hence their name "home of migrants"). As they passed through different dynasties and regions, their wine brewing picked up a diverse mix of methodologies. But there was a common thread – brewing was primarily carried out by the females of the house. And these yellow wines had a central role in weddings, babies’ full month ceremonies and new year celebrations, conveying blessings from the family.

Different Hakka families, even from the same region, have their own unique brewing techniques, which are often accompanied by many interesting stories. The artist was very keen to discover these stories. Among the numerous techniques, he found that one of the steps, ‘roasting wine’, was very similar to ‘smoke firing’ in ceramics. One way of ‘roasting wine’ was to apply mud onto the external surface of the wine pot, burying the pot in straw and husks, and then mellowing the wine by firing it to medium heat. With reference to these various Hakka techniques, the artist applied the concept of ‘wine brewing’ to ‘clay/mud brewing’, introducing elements of fermentation, glutinous rice, wine roasting, yellow wine dishes and so on, and creating a new series of ceramic works and wine vessels. He hoped to arouse public interest in Hakka culture through his work, and encouraging others to share their own wine brewing experiences, recipes and stories.

Sadly, it is increasingly difficult to brew wine using traditional huge ceramic wine urns due to the lack of space in the home. Some Hakka families living in the city would replace these urns by using containers that are readily available and could be easily stored, such as glass bottles. Wine brewing is not popular among younger Hakka people as it is considered a handicraft of bygone generations. The artist reflected on whether innovations and traditions could coexist. Yet history tells us that the Hakka’s are highly adaptable, that is how they were able to preserve their unique identity and traditions throughout the passage of time and space. The ceramic artist collaborated with an up-and-coming ceramic artist Silvester Mok and used 3D printing technology to create a modern ceramic wine urn, hoping that the tradition of Hakka wine-brewing could have a place in this age of innovation, raising the level of interest and participation of the new generation, and re-establishing Hakka wine brewing as a fashionable heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

User-Defined Keywords

  • Hakka Culture
  • 3D printing artwork
  • ceramic art
  • functional ware
  • heritage
  • wine making


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