Feature: Cuban hurricane survivor finds happy ending in Chinese porcelain

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-11 15:44:37|Editor: mmm
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HAVANA, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Cuban curator and art collector Yosvanis Fornaris owes his expertise in Chinese porcelain to something unusual -- a tropical cyclone that devastated Cuba in 2008.

On his first day at work in Havana's National Museum of Decorative Arts, Hurricane Ike threatened to rip the building apart and smash up the invaluable artifacts.

The 35-year-old recalled how he raced against the clock to save the fragile pieces, including antique ceramics, an experience that gave him a newfound appreciation for Chinese porcelain and started a process that would eventually turn him into an expert in this field.

"I was fascinated by what I saw, even though I didn't know anything about what I had in front of me. Still, I sensed it was something important and decided to devote myself to studying it," Fornaris said.

He started at the libraries, researching the museum's 1,200 Chinese ceramic items. Then in 2014, he went to China to study archaeology at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in southeast Jiangxi Province. He stayed there for nearly four years, tutored by Chinese expert Cao Jianwen until his return to Cuba in July.

"These four years changed my life, not just professionally, but also personally. Now I feel I have to pass on everything I learned there," Fornaris said at the museum office he shares with other experts on antiques.

His thesis was on the green Chinese porcelain from the Kangxi period between the 17th and 18th centuries, also part of the museum collection.

His passion for antique porcelain is now complemented by a love for Chinese culture, especially Chinese cuisine and tea.

He said he was impressed by "the immense cultural weight carried by even the smallest daily gestures of the Chinese" and the work ethics of the Chinese.

On his return to Cuba, he curated an exhibition, "Splendor of 18th-century Chinese porcelain", as part of the celebrations marking the museum's 54th anniversary.

Currently, he is researching Chinese porcelain collecting in Cuba, which he hopes will be the foundation of the doctoral thesis he wishes to complete in China.