China’s iconic cooking vessel is forged in a symphony of fire and steam

Lying in the shadow of the majestic Huangshan Mountain, the village of Shichuan in Anhui province is renowned for its bucolic stone bridges and temples. But don’t be fooled by its sleepy appearance: The village awakens to the firing of dozens of furnaces before 6 a.m. each morning.

Thrift drives this early start: Electricity is discounted before 8 a.m., an essential cost-cutter for these family-run foundries that need to generate a lot of heat—melting iron requires temperatures of over 1,000 degrees Celsius. Perhaps it is this mix of diligence and economy that has allowed Shichuan’s ancient wok-casting method to persist for centuries in the face of mass-produced competition.

An employee pours hot water out in the while working at the Chinese wok factory.

At the start of the day, workers boil water to make the sand molds

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All In a Day’s Wok is a story from our issue, “Dawn of the Debt.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


author Hatty Liu

Hatty Liu is the managing editor of The World of Chinese, and an award-winning communications researcher. Born in China, and raised in China, Canada, and the US, she leverages her cross-cultural identity to create more empathetic knowledge across national boundaries.

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