It appears that the kiln god concept is quite ancient, originating in China. In fact there is more than one kiln god as many pottery villages in China had their own deity or guardian. I like Feng Ho Hsien, “Genius of the Fire Blast,” described by Martie Geiger-Ho. Cool name, eh? He was a potter who died when the Imperial kiln he was helping to fire collapsed. The Emperor then made him into a god to quiet the unrest of the repressed potters who produced the porcelain in Jingdezhen. Given I work mainly in porcelain, I think this is the kiln god for me. He even comes with 8 gaurdians and his own temple.
What is interesting to me is how this ancient tradition has been Westernized. Here, we make all sorts of little more or less impromptu sculptures that we call kiln gods. We even have a national kiln god competition. But I think there is a little something in many of us that wants an insurance policy. No matter how well you know how things work, no matter how many times we’ve done the same thing over and again, there is always a little error or even a disaster that can creep in when that kiln goes on.
Me, I think I’m going to head off to build a little temple for my kiln guardian. Well actually, mine's more like a kiln gargoyle. I might even make 8 gaurdians. I can use all the help I can get. I’m certainly going to dust him off to show just a bit more respect. And maybe even reunite him with the ear that’s gotten knocked off. He is after all the rabbit’s foot of my kiln. And speaking of lore….where does that one come from?