$3,500! Probably the most EXPENSIVE brick in the world | Golden bricks in China

$3,500! Probably the most EXPENSIVE brick in the world | Golden bricks in China

This is the story about the Golden Bricks in China.

They name it Golden Bricks not because of the colour, but because of the sound.

When knocking the bricks, you can hear the same sound from the metals like the gold, and that sound itself is a symbol for the highest technique level of brick-making in the ancient China.

The Golden Brick was originated in the Ming Dynasty of China, when Ming Cheng Zu wanted to move the capital city to Beijing.

They wanted to build a new palace for Beijing, and because of that, they wanted to find the best bricks and tiles in China at that time.

After rounds of selection and recommendation, they decided to choose their bricks made from Suzhou, precisely from some small towns like Lu Mu, Xu Zhuang and Jinxi,under the governance of Suzhou.

It all started with the soil fetching. The soil material required for making the bricks are the clay material from around the Yangcheng Lake area. It normally is hidden 1 m beneath the normal surface of the soil.

Then it is the next step for adobe fabrication. It requires several procedures like hammering, scrapping, shielding, bearing, casting.

The next step is the so called shade-drying. The bricks will be sent to a straw-roofed room with temperature and humidity control. This process normally takes around five to eight months. This is also the stage when they start to put the stamp of their name.

When the bricks are finally ready to be sent to the kilns for firing, it would need a big kiln and cannot be filled fully. They only allow around 100 to 300 pieces of bricks in the same kiln because they want to ensure that each brick get evenly heated.

The first stage of firing is fueled with grasses as the workers want to reduce the moisture of the bricks. The second stage is with the chopped firewood to bring the temperature up, and the third stage is with the pine wood. The function of pine wood is to even the temperature of the upper and downside of the kiln. The whole three stages together will take up to 100 days.

And after this 100 days, when it's finally ready to be pulled out, the workers need to drip water from the top of the kiln for five days to bring the temperature down.

After that. It is probably the most strict quality control check in the history of brick making. There are several ways of checking the quality of the golden bricks, which includes checking the appearance, the shape, the color, the sound and the weight, using a brush to dip in the water and write on the brick has the same result of rendering ink on the rice paper.

If there are more than six pieces that do not meet the qualification, the whole set of bricks will be failed together.

The bricks after firing are just half finished products. There are two more steps waiting for them. The first is to be polished with water, and second is to be massaged with oil, like a spa.

After all these strict process, the bricks that are ready will be shipped from Suzhou to Beijing through the big canal connecting the north and south part of China in the old time.

Following all of these steps which will take, on average, two years, these bricks finally show up in the capital city of Beijing.

You may imagine they will be put in somewhere more obvious, like the roof and walls. But they're actually going to be used to pave the floor. You can find them in lots of places in the forbidden city - Tai He Dian, Bao He Dian, or some famous temples.

Are you curious about the price of one piece of golden brick nowadays?

It's $3,500 per piece. Yes, $3,500!!!

There is another explanation of the name Golden Brick. People said the price for one piece of a brick is actually the same price for purchasing the gold of the same quantity.

I was also surprised knowing that this complex techniques was only recovered in the 1980s, after decades of no production.

There is no more royal family in the modern China. But to me, the Golden Brick is representing the professional spirit of the ancient craftsman and the aesthetics that appreciate long lasting qualities.

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