Pottery Relics Used
in 19th Century
Central Pacific Railroad
Chinese Worker Camps.
A teapot, another pot with a spout, several pots, dishes – with nice painted decorations and designs.
Chinese artifacts can be seen from the Western Mid-Sierra into Western Utah, for example, on the old CPRR 1868 Grade between Wells Nevada and the Utah State Line (Pequop mountains). There are Chinese camps all along the old grade with pottery in dugouts in the ground (depressions) where the Chinese were living. Chinese camps along the grade can be quite spread out — the large Independence Spring camp at Holburn Siding, for example, covers about three acres. Those 19th century Chinese [from the Qing (Ching, Ch'ing) dynasty (1644-1911)] were eating on lovely Chinese dishes in the Chinese Camps!
Here are many examples of hand painted Chinese porcelain and pottery that were used by the Chinese workers who built the Central Pacific Railroad, for example:
Chinese Dragon Lamp
Chinese Dragon Lamp, Top
Chinese Ginger Jars
Chinese Ginger Jar & Rice Bowl
Chinese Rice Bowl, Inside
Chinese Jar with Lid
Chinese Painted Jar
Chinese Tea Caddy
Chinese Water Caddies for Mixing Writing Ink
Chinese Water Caddies, Top
Chinese Whale Oil Lamp, Top
Chinese Whale Oil Lamp
Gray pottery water vessel with pig heads for feet from a Chinese encampment West of Beowawe.
"Guaranteed Profit 利安" + "Good Timing 天合"
Chinese Teapot, bottom
> The pronunciations of these two characters are "Tian He"(from right to left). "Tian" means sky, nature, or weather and "he" means to join, to combine, or to suit. When you combine these two characters together, it means good timing. ... "Tian He" most probably was the name of the teapot factory because it was a trend to print the name of the factory at the bottom of most teapots around that period since the teapots began to be mass-produced [or] "Tian He" might be the name of the maker since many famous makers liked to have their names printed at the bottom of their products around that time. —Shin Chi Kao
> From this photo, I can see clearly that there are two sets of characters at the bottom of the teapot. I guess these two sets of characters were done in different time and maybe have no direct relations. There are two reasons for me to say so.
First, these two sets of words were done in different ways. The center sets of two characters seemed to be carved and kilned when the teapot was made and those two characters on the sides were most likely written on it by the Chinese paint brush with ink. Therefore, they were done probably during different periods of time.
Second, they should be read in two different directions. The two characters on the sides, Tian He(pronounced as /her/ but without rolling tongue)天合, that I analyzed before were written in a horizontal way from right to left. However, the two words in the center pronounced as "Li An 利安" were carved in a vertical way. [The above photograph is] rotated so the "Li An" can be read in a correct direction. However, the "Tian He" then became tilt not horizontal anymore when I turned "Li An". Basically, they were shown in two directions and in a very strange way. Furthermore, the handwritings of these two sets of characters were from two different persons. Therefore, I am sure that they were done by two persons, for two different reasons, and maybe from different time.
Since I can see this picture more clearly now, I should turnover my previous assumption about "Tian He." I assume that "Li An" was the name of the teapot factory or the shop that made it and sold it originally. I guess so because on one hand, they seemed to be done when the teapot was made; on the other hand, many Chinese used these two characters as the name of their shops because "Li" means profit and "An" means safe and it has a meaning of "guaranteed profit" when you put these two characters together. I am not so sure why the "Tian He" was added. It seems to me that these two sets of characters were antithesis in Chinese language, "guaranteed profit" vs. "good timing." Maybe it was added by one of the owners who wanted to add his comment about this teapot later on; or, this teapot was owned and sold later on by the other shop which was called "Tian He." ...
—Shin Chi Kao
Jug – East of Wells, Nevada
Description and images courtesy of the G.J. "Chris" Graves Collection.