Visiting Georgeann and Learning About Pi Tang Kong

Tuesday, January 23, 2018
We paid a visit to our old neighbor, Georgeann, yesterday afternoon, and she gave me many cuttings from different plants around her yard! I've always loved paperwhites in the house during the last month or so of winter as a little reminder that spring is right around the corner, but these little darlings are new to me: Galantus nivalis, also known as snowdrops. They are sweet little things and will spread around the yard to their hearts content. They come up in late January with the crocuses. I'll plant these bulbs later, but for now, I quite like them indoors. 

She also gave me phlox, salvia, sarcococca, euphorbia, two large stonecrop sedums, and many other sedums in red and green.  I'm excited! 

The girls always love visiting Georgeann, and think of her like a grandmother to them.  They used to run over all the time and spend hours with her.  Amelia says her house is enchanted.  I think so, too.  Look at one of the beautiful murals she painted in a corner of her dining room: 

I noticed this beautiful pot with a Chinese dragon on it, and Georgeann told me all about Pi Tang Kong, which translates to "Container of Preserved Eggs".  In China, it is popular to eat eggs preserved in rice husk and clay.  I will cut and paste a wonderful description at the end of this post by an author signed "IP", who responded to an online inquiry from someone wanting to know more about this very same pot.  Georgeann brought this one back from China, as she lived there for a time.

This picture is a little blurry (taken with Georgeann's phone by Juniper), but it captures how much Amelia adores her.  She's an avid gardener, an artist, retired graphic designer, reader, world traveller, and friend.  She now joins us on Christmas mornings and we think of her as family.

 P.S.  Stay tuned for a post tomorrow detailing our site visit with a technician from the Backyard Habitat Certification Program!  


    Q:  I recently bought a very large piece of pottery at a yard sale. I have done some research on it, but still don't know really what I have.  Any help would be appreciated. The jar is all brown with two dragons on it. The woman I bought it from said that it was used to store rice and that she purchased it in China herself several years ago, but she is moving and it costs a lot to ship. I would guess it weighs around 50 lbs.

    The only mark I can find on it is a "X" with a square around it. The dragons look as if they are above water; the inside is more of a mute yellow, golden color and has very heavy brush marks.

    Could you tell me about how old it is and its worth.

     A:  I was just reading some of your new posts in the Q & A section of your page and just wanted to make an addition to this specific post about this large jar.

    We have over 40 of them in our house, who are being used as flowerpots. They are originally called "Pi Tang Kong" and I would say the majority are from China, though a few may be from Taiwan. As you know "Pi Tang" are Chinese preserved eggs. These eggs are rolled in a combination of rice husks and clay and then, preserved. (How, I have no idea.) "Kong" means container thus the name literally translates into "Container of Preserved Eggs".

    They are modern pieces, made to ship a large number of these eggs. In the local Chinese grocery stores in Malaysia, these jars and their contents are put in front of the shops on the sidewalk to sell the eggs. The jar usually having a round wooden cover.

    Once the eggs are sold, the jar is usually sold to avid gardeners who punch a hole through the bottom with a drill to convert them to flower pots. I know, cause I have punched many of these holes myself. Use only drills cause if you use a hammer and a chisel the whole bottom of these jars will give way leaving a hole, way too large for a flowerpot!

    I have seen four types of these jars. The first has the same glaze as the one shown here, but has pattern of the dragons simply incised in the clay before firing.

    The second type is of a lighter color (more like sand) with the dragon pattern applied as a thin layer of clay (like sticking a thin piece of clay to the sides and carving away excess clay until a pattern of a dragon emerges). This type tends to be composed of a rougher type of clay with more grit. They are usually lighter, more porous and have thinner walls.

    The third type is similar to the second type above, but tends to be larger, has greenish or pale olive glaze. The rim and dragon patterns are usually glazed brown. These types are by far the heaviest and have thick walls. The usual sizes of these types are about 20-25 inches high and about 25 inches in diameter but I have seen larger.

    The fourth type is the one seen here. These seems to be the most common. In addition, they come in two distinct sizes. The smaller is about 10 inches high and about the same in diameter. The larger is about 15 inches high and about the same in diameter.

    These jars are very useful for a wide range of things. Personally, I have seen them as containers for rice, water, dry foodstuff, manure, fertilizer and a whole lot more.


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