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From a Sina blog:
Kiln workers and their children
Look at this kiln worker's pretty daughter, so innocent, yet likewise having to endure hardship (Looking at this picture, I just noticed that her right hand has been burned and disabled).
It's just by chance that I came to take these photos. A friend, researching online, found a place called Egret Island, in a village called Hengxi. I had planned to take photos of the egrets, but after arriving there not only did I not find them, but found a brick kiln instead. I've always wanted to know how bricks are made and to take photos of the process, and thus I ended up spending four weeks there.
Brick Kiln Synopsis:
The kiln seen in this post is a wheel kiln, also known as a ring kiln, a kind of continuous kiln. The locals say it's the kind that you pay for with your life. The organization and operation of of wheeled kilns, when compared with tunnel kilns, means they produce less, are less efficient, have poorer working conditions, and require more intensive labour. For this reason, in 1999, national industry policy decreed that ceramic wheel kilns were to be eliminated as obsolete designs.
- The workers that make a living here (there are also some child laborers between 10 and 20 years old) simply work too hard, every day in the heat they carry tons of unfired bricks and finished product, working day and night. They have no work insurance, or days off. They work every day in the heat, dust and sweat.
- The kiln workers' living conditions are appalling. The kiln's women and children likewise endure the same hardships on the brickyard.
- The red brick kiln looks old, ashy, dusty, and neglected, but speaking as a photographer, once you've selected your angle and composition, after using a wide-angle, you will be stunned by the image of the warm domes, a kind of unexpected scale and size.
- Of course, as a documentary photographer, the artistry of the picture and the fate of the workers, as well as the ordinary common people's living conditions, cannot be compared.
Thoughts While Reviewing Photographs:
Looking at the pictures while looking online for information, it turns out that this fiery red kiln was built on what was originally farmland. that the villagers' complaints have, to this day, not been addressed (see additional image), and that there are signs that the brick kiln also uses child labour (see additional image). After the illegal and serious labor problems of some "black" [illegal] brick kilns in Shanxi province were exposed, it gained the close attention of President Hu Jintao and other high-level leaders of the central government. It looks like in some far-off areas, this problem still exists. But if that's the case, what about the local party officials under whose nose this is going on? Where are the management practices of the local government with regard to enterprises in the village? Do they even care after they receive payment?
Hengxi, Quzhou is a place of beautiful scenery, and looking online, Egret Island is located here. From a distance, that curling mists are beautiful.
Entering the kiln, a wave of heat hits you. This is what they call, "the kiln you pay for with your life", which is to say that bricks come and go but there are always bricks that remain to be fired.
Unfired bricks on one side, the finished bricks on the other. Day and night, night and day, the work never finishing.
Maybe because it was just too hot, or maybe because they were covered in sweat and dust, several kiln workers take a moment to wipe themselves down in a corner.
Maybe because they knew they were being photographed, they kept their underpants on as they washed, and kept their backs to the camera.
Under such intense labor, no one Working so hard, no one appreciates the shadows of the setting sun or the arcs in the ground made by the wheels.
This little boy just passed his 10th birthday. Every day he loads up tens of carts. On his little hand are some bleeding cuts.
After loading up the cart, he has to cart them away himself. I don't know how the owner of the kiln can live with himself, employing such a young child.
This is an ellipse-shaped entrance for the brick kiln's coal, around and around, burning without end.
Some fired bricks, drying in the sun. This place used to be 30mu of farmland, was from 2003 on was illegally occupied to build a brickyard.
Coincidentally, this happens to the be the only piece of information about Hengxi Village that can be found on the internet, which is that the Hengxi Village brickyard is illegally occupying farmland (the screenshot is of the Quzhou disciplinary inspection commission website). It appears that this problem has not truly been solved.