in the years right before Hong Kong became a British colony, the Englishman
Harry Parkes became British Consul at Guangzhou for a period of four years.
No matter what kind of man Parkes had been, this appointment would have been
distasteful to the Chinese.
potters of shekwan, however, found a means to quietly protest Harry Parkes
position over them. They made ceramic utensils in the form of Harry Parkes
wine pots, Harry Parkes pillows, and the piece de resistance, a chamber pot
in the form of Harry Parkes himself. The latter was made by the reknowned
artist Chen Weiyan(陈渭岩).Chen,
in addition to being an outstanding artist had a reputation as being a bit
of a rake. Chen’s self portrait, glazed in black, is housed in Macau’s museu
de Luis Camoens. Shekwan potter and beloved teacher Ho Ping-tsung pointed to
the undone button at the neck of the self portrait as indicating the rakish
nature of the artist it portrayed.
Harry Parkes urinal Qing "Dyn.-shekwan L.7" Taipei
British ordered all the chamber pots destroyed but, according to Zhang
Weichi in Guangdong Shekwan Potty(广东石湾陶器)1957,
a remaining pot was discovered and put on exhibition in Guangdong Province.
Zhang reports that people came from many counties surrounding to view the
Recently, a gentlemen's tea party was held in Guangzhou at the home of
Shekwan collector Gao Guopei ( 高佩
) at which were displayed a pair of Harry Parkes winepots. A long handscroll
recorded all the thoughts of the guests at the tea party.
"Harry Parkes " Pillow-Shekwan in early 1900's
In the late 1970's the author discovered
another original Harry Parkes chamber pot among the 100 piece Shekwan
collection in the National Central Library in Taipei.
Recreation of Shekwan urinal. Face of Harry Parkes by
potter John Bade 1976
when the author was in Hawai'i and long before she had seen a genuine Harry
Parkes Chamber Pot, the birthday of her father, Shekwan collector Olaf K.
Skinsnes, occasioned an attempt to re-create the Harry Parkes Chamber Pot as
it was reported but not described by Zhang Weichi. The final effort
represented an attempt of the imagination. Initially horrified at seeing one
of the original pieces she discovered that the hole was in the top hat,
while in the contemporary attempt the hole was in the mouth.
The contemporary Harry Parkes
Chamber Pot has spent ten years of its life in Guangzhou where it brought
many a smile to people's faces. Much merriment has been had in Shekwan over
this Shekwan imitation, and cross-cultural interaction linked to Harry
parkes continues into the present.
Guangshen Collection 1982-Wine Pots