Terebess Asia Online (TAO)


Yixing Purple Clay Tea Pot
Terebess Collection

The History of Yixing Purple Tea Pot
About the Origin of the Yixing Purple Tea Pot

Yixing, a picturesque city, is located on the Taihu Lake. The city is famous for its plentiful products, fertile land, rich resources and outstanding talents. Of the products, the most charming is ceramics. Based on the textual and archaeological researches in neolithic age as far 5000 years ago, the forefathers of Yixing were engaged in the farming and the pottery making. Recent years have often found some ruins of ancient pottery workshops and kilns in its territory, in Yixing Ding Shu Town, There are 5 neolithic site (5000 years ago), 3 Han Dynasty kiln site (Before A.D. 220), 3 Six Dynasty kilns (A.D. 420 - A.D. 581), 9 Sui Dynasty, Tang Dynasty kilns (A.D. 581 - A.D. 907), 20 Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty kilns (A.D. 960-A.D. 1368), 60 Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty kilns (A.D. 1368-A.D. 1911).

Yixing is a famous tea area in ancient China, one kind of Yixing tea (called Yun Wu Tea) was as palace tea in early Tang Dynasty. The production was over 5000 kgs in the Tang Dynasty. There were ten thousands tea workers for pick tea every year, there were 30 tea factories, and China's most famous tea master, Lu Yu came to Yixing for drink tea time after time.

The most important diathesis is that rare purple clay was found in the mountain of Ding Shu Town in Yixing. The purple clay have very unique characteristics, it is the best material for tea pot on earth. In 1976, a Song Dynasty dragon kiln was found on Yiang Jiao Mountain of Ding Shu Town, many purple clay fragmentary purple tea pot pieces were unearthed. It is also affirmed by Song Dynasty poems, some Song Dynasty's poem mentioned purple clay tea pot, so it is accepted that Yixing purple clay tea pot was produced in Song Dynasty midterm time, but some specialists thought it was produced in Ming Dynasty. Mr Zhou Gao Qi, a writer who lived in the Ming Dynasty, wrote <<Yang Xian Tea Pot series>>, (PS: Yixing was called "Yang Xian" in ancient time>>, this is the earliest book that specially described the origin and technology features of yixing purple clay tea pot, with purple clay material. To the origins of purple tea pot, he told us: "one white foot monk who live in Jing Sha temple in Ding Shu, he liked study pottery with potters, slowly originally created simple and unique tea pot with purple clay for his own to enjoy it (PS: there are many temples in ancient China, many monks enjoyed tea using bowls there, but it is very regrettable that people cannot find their tea pots), Mr. Wu Yu Shan, a Jing Si (college student) in Zhen De Year Ming Dynasty (1514), come to Jing Sha temple for his study, Gong Cun, his servant went there also, in carefree time, Gong Cun study make purple tea pot under the monk, he imitated an old tree by the temple and made a unique Gong Cun pot, (PS: This pot is collected in China History Museum now, the cover has been lost, the cover was added by Qing Dynasty Master Wang Yu Ling, so people think Gong Cun is founder of yixing purple tea pot.


The Developing of Yixing Purple Tea Pot in the Ming Dynasty

In 1965, a purple tea pot was unearthed in an ancient tomb in Nang Jing city, the man buried in the tomb is Wu Jing, who was a eunuch of Ministry of Rites in Jia Jing Year Ming Dynasty (1533). In 1991, one purple tea pot was unearthed in an ancient well in the famous Nan Chan temple in Wuxi, this tea pot is very alike with that pot in Wu Jing tomb on the purple material and made technology, many porcelains of Zheng De year Ming Dynasty were unearthed together with this pot.

In early Ming Dynasty, the most famous masters are Zhao Liang, Dong Han, Yuan Chang, Shi Peng. They lived in Jia Jing year and Long Qing year in Ming Dynasty. Main design is Ti Liang Tea Pot.
From Wan Lie Year Ming Dynasty to Ming Dynasty last stage, many masters were produced in China, the most famous is Mr. Shi Da Bing (Shi Peng's son), who has a very high status at that time, it wasn't easy to get his pot, for even a great officer.

It was found only 7 pieces in China belonging to really Shi Da Bing's tea pots (don't need argue it), there are only 15-20 pieces abroad, Shi Da Bing was very strict in making tea pots, pots were broken if they didn't satisfy him. Many masters copied Shi Da Bing's pots in Qing Dynasty, including some famous great masters.

Second famous master is Hui Meng Cheng in Ming Dynasty, other great masters are Li Mao Ling, Li Zhong Fang, Xu You Quan, Ou Zheng Cun, Shao Weng Jing, Shao Wen Ying, Jiang Bo Kua, Cheng Xing Qing, Cheng Guang Pu, Cheng Jun Qing, Cheng Zi Qi, etc.

Tea culture changed in Ming Dynasty also, the people replaced tea bowl with tea pot, replaced boiled tea with tea steeped in hot water, replaced the fermented tea cake with the bulk fresh tea, replaced big tea pot of early Ming Dynasty with smaller tea pot due to small tea pot better keep the tea's fragrance. Most of the people think purple tea pot cut down those tea pot of silver, stannum, copper. The purple tea pot have become the need of the literati and scholar-bureaucrats, many of them started to collect the purple tea pots.


The thriving prosperity of purple tea pots from the Qing Dynasty to the early years of the Repbulic of China

Qing Dynasty is the golden era of the purple tea pot, although it is not as good as the porcelain tea ware from Jing De Town, but its designs are richer than porcelain tea ware, showing its unique individuality and elegant demeanour. The decoration technology of the purple tea pot arrived at a high level, besides carved calligraphy, there are clay painting, carved painting, colour glaze painting, bas-relief, stack clay painting, stick clay painting, mill clay painting, inlay clay, inlay gold, hollow out, bind up gold, bind up silver, bind up lacquer, burnish, etc. More purple tea pots have entered to the imperial palace as the articles of tribute in early Qing Dynasty. (In fact, purple tea pots have already entered to the palace in Wan Lie year Ming Dynasty (1570), because of one tea pot by Shi Da Bing made was found in the Imperial Palace)

Kang Xi, one of the earliest emperors in Qing Dynasty, he are very liked very much purple tea pot and tea bowl, but he liked to add colour enamel on it to make them more showy, and he refused the seal of makers on the purple tea pot, he allowed only the title of the emperor's reign. This rule was continued by Yong Zheng emperor and Qian Long emperor, so you will not see the seal of any maker to the palace purple tea pot in early Qing Dynasty, only have the title of an emperor's reign.

Yong Zheng emperor were very interested in the designs of purple tea pot, he commanded himself to imitate the designs of purple tea pot to make porcelain tea ware, silver tea ware, copper tea ware, (it was proved by the original record in Yong Zheng 11 year, No.3360), although Yong Zheng emperor reigned only for 13 years, but there are many Registers about purple tea pot in his record.

Most of the palace purple tea pots are from Qiang Long emperor era, Qiang Long emperor liked to drink tea in his whole life, even when he went on his six time tour of inspection. He said ever: "The emperor cannot stop tea to any day"), so he liked more purple tea pots, he ordered to carve his poem on the purple tea pot, so most of the palace purple tea pot showed Qian Long's poem on them in Qian Long era. Qian Long emperor ordered also to make special tea ark for holding purple tea ware when on tour. Qiang Long emperor advocated his people to use purple tea pot, so purple tea pot were very fashionable in Qiang Long era and for a long time after Qian Long.

After Qiang Long, more purple tea pots entered the palace, it was no longer restricted to the seal of makers, so you can easily find many purple tea pots with the seal of famous great master in the Imperial Palace among those palace purple tea pots that were made after Qian Long emperor's time.

In Kang Xi emperor's 24 year (1685) reign, Kong Xi emperor agreed make business with overseas countries, so purple tea pot export to Europe with Chinese tea, quickly purple tea pot was attracted and welcomed by European people, they praised it as "Red Porcelain", early or late, Portugaler, Hollander, German all made their pottery tea ware copy of this "Red Porcelain", in 1711, Mr. Bo Te Ge, one famous potter from Germany, succeded to make 2000 pcs red pottery tea pot imitate yixing purple teapot, and wrote disquisition <<Red sand porcelain>>,There is one Yixing Purple tea pot that was collected in the state museum of Denmark, which was used by the king of Denmark in 1674. Yixing purple tea pot was exported to Japan, East-South Asia, Central America etc.

In early days of Qing Dynasty, the most famous great master is Mr. Cheng Ming Yuan, it was recorded in <<Yang Xian Famous potters>> by Wu Qian in 1786 (PS: Yixing is called "Yang Xian in Ancient), Wu Qian think that Cheng Ming Yuan's tea pot is the best in one hundred years history, he exceeded all tea pots of three era, it was equal with Shi Da Bing. It has been proved, the carved calligraphy on the Cheng Ming Yuan's tea pots were written by famous calligrapher Mr. Cao Qian Rang, this modus operandi was continued up to now all along, many famous literators, painters, and politicians like to write their epigraph on the purple tea pot for rise it's value. Even they invited some great master to their home for making purple tea pot for them, let the masters enjoy those antique ones they collected.

Other great masters are Zheng Nin Hou, Wang Nan Ling, Yu Rong, Shao Yu Ting, Shao Xi Mao, Cheng Ying Qian, Cheng Han Wen, Yang Ji Cu, Zhang Huai Reng, Yang Ji Yuan, Yang You Lan, Shao Ji Zu, Shao De Xing, Cheng Weng Bo, Cheng Weng Ju, Cheng Ci Wai, Xu Weng Long etc.

In the medium-term and later period in Qing Dynasty, the most exponent is Man Sheng pot that was made in cooperation with Cheng Man Sheng and Yang Peng Nian. Yang Peng Nian made pot, epigraphed by Cheng Man Sheng who was a famous calligrapher and painter, so the "Man Sheng pot" was very rare then and afterward, Yang Bao Nian (Yang Peng Nian's brother) and Yang Feng Nian (Yang Peng Nian's sister) help Yang Peng Nian made "Man Sheng Pot", usually Cheng Man Sheng's seal is on the bottom of the pot, the seal of Yang Peng Nian is on the bottom of the cover and handle, his seal is smaller than Cheng Man Sheng's. We think it is not candid to Yang Peng Nian who a famous master.

Another great master is Shao Da Heng, his famous tea pot is the Eight Diagrams bundle bamboo pot and fish dragon pot, Mr. Huang Yu Ling is a outstanding master after Shao Da Heng.

Other masters are Wu Yue Ting, Ge Ming Xiang, Feng Cai Xia, Deng Kui, Jiang Yu Ling, Zhu Shi Mei, Shao Er Quan, Sheng Xi, Shao She Da, Shao You Ting, He Xing Zhou, Wu A Kun, Sheng Rui Tian, Jing Shi Hun, Fan Da Sheng, Cheng Bo Ting, Fan Die En, Cheng Shou Fu, Jiang Wan Feng, Jiang Zheng Xian, Shi Bao Fen etc.

On the last stage of Qing Dynasty to the early days of the Repbulic of China, it is a prosperous period to yixing purple tea pot, some ethical capitalists start to replace the feudal household, mainly in Shanghai. Those dealers appeared in Shanghai, for dealing yixing purple tea pot, they made-order purple tea pot in Yixing, as a result, some great masters were come forward.

The most accomplished are Cheng Shou Zheng, Yu Guo Liang, and Pei Shi Ming, Cheng Shou Zheng's De ball pot and archaize pot were took gold award on the Panama International Exhibition in 1919, he is the first master who took gold award internationally in purple history. Through the hard work by zisha pottery artists and masters of different generations, the zisha pottery tea pot present their rich culture and artistic quality to world and gain very great prestige by showing their special charm. For example, at the beginning of the 20th century, they were awarded first prize at Panama International Exposition, and excellence and gold prize at Chicago Exposition, London Arts Exhibition and Philadelphia International Arts Exposition.

It is developmental still to purple tea pot before the War of Resistance Against Japan(1937), according to the record, there are 40 sites dragon kilns for special fire purple tea pot in the aera of Ding Shan, Shu Shan in 1919, it rised to 63 site in 1929, it rised again to 76 sites in 1936, 1936 is the blossomest year in the period of the Repbulic of China, the fired kiln time was 4740 time for one year, produced two million pieces of purple tea pots. Purple tea pot's shops were set up in many cities, such as Shanghai, Hang Zhou, Wuxi, Tiang Jing, Qing Dao etc. cities. Even some branch stores were set up in Japan, Singapore, th Philipines. They main merchants were Cheng Ding He Company, Wu De Sheng Company, ie. Hua Xuan Company, Ge De Company, and Li Yong Company. There are two seals at least to those purple tea pots in this period, one is the seal of maker, another is the seal of the shop.


The status after 1937

When the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937), yixing purple tea pot product was destroyed, many masters have to go into exile, most kilns were in desolation.

After 1949, the people were liberated, the product of the yixing purple tea pot was renewed, many masters returned to yixing, the state factories were set up for special produce purple tea pots, the designs of the purple tea pot grow to hundreds kinds, many excellent craftsmans were appeared, the most famous great master is Mr Gu Jing Zhou (1915-1992), one of his purple tea pot was sold out on USD65,000 on Macao in 1997, this is the highest price to one purple tea pot on the modern times. Mr Gu Jing Zhou is appellatived as "leading scholar of the times"

Another famous great master is Mrs Jiang Rong (1915-), who the most famous master live in Yixing now. Her purple tea pot was the State Department premier'gift when visited to overseas in 1957.

Other great masters are Xu Xou Tang, Xu Hang Tang, Wang Yian Xian, Lu Yao Cheng, Tan Quan Hai, they are the rule China industrial arts great masters by the China State Department awarded. The price of their tea pot is over USD1,000 at least! From 1980 up to now, Yixing, the artists of older generation, with the vigor of their youth still existing, make their artworks still richer in substances and forms, while the young and mid-aged artists never stop making exploration and creation in styles and shapes, and this presents one vast panorama of prosperity in Yixing's ceramic business, like a hundred flowers blossoming in a garden


The Production and Development of Yixing Teapot

The production and development of Yixing tea pot which form the major type of Yixing purple clay tea pot are closely related to the Chinese custom of tea drinking that has persisted for more than one thousand years.

China is the homeland of tea and in the early periods, the Chinese had started the planting and usage of tea. Tongyue (Contract for a Boy Servant) by Wang Bao of the Western Han dynasty, Shilun (Discussion on Food) by Hua Tuo of the late Eastern Han dynasty, Feng Shi Wenjianji (A Record of Things Heard and Seen by Feng) by Feng Yan, Chajing (Classic of Tea) by Lu Yu, Pipaxing (Ode of Pipa) by Bai Juyi of the Tang dynasty, Hingzhou Ketan (Discourse on the Floating lslands) by Zhu Yu, and Dongling Menghualu (Dream of Prosperity at the Eastern Capiyal) by Meng Yuanlao of the Song dynasty, etc. contain information of tea trade and tea drinking. People began to realize that tea not only stops thirst, but also stimulates one's consciousness. Merchants travelled several hundred miles to engage in tea trade and on the market, there were tea houses where customers could just put down a coin and take the drink. Preparation methods for tea drinking include 'cooking tea','brewing tea' and 'infusing tea', and it became very popular in the society. The wares related to tea drinking include tea-cups, tea-bowls, tea whisker, tea-grinder, hot water vase, tea vase, water-container, flower vases and so on4. In the realm of teapot, it was said that Su Dongpo had once designed the 'Dongpo teapot',which was a kind of large teapot with overhead handle. Coming to the Ming dynasty, at the area where the Han people resided, natural dry form of loose tea leaves and tea buds replaced the production of tea cake or tea plaster; the process of tea preparation changed to brewing method and teapot became the principal tea ware. In the early Ming dynasty, the size of teapot was still quite large but it gradually became smaller in later times. In particular, the teapots used in preparing the 'Gongfu tea' in the Fujian and Guangdong regions is characterized by its small size. In Volume 2 of Yangxian Mingtaolu (Record of Famous Pottery Wares from Yangxian), a record of tea drinking is extracted from Taiyang Baiyongzhu (Taiyang's Explanation on a Hundred Poems) by Zhou Shu, which reads "In tasting tea, people of the province (Taiwan) prepare tea by themselves, and before drinking, they smell the fragrance first, while the small teapot by Gongchun ismost esteemed."

The popularity of tea drinking among the upper classes had created significant impact. Records in Chapter 65 of Sanguozhi (History of the Three Hingdoms), Guangya by Zhang Yi of the Wei dynasty, Shanfu fingshoulu (Recorde by a Cooker) by Yang Hua of the Tang dynasty, Yunxian Zaji (Miscellaneous Records of Yunxian) by Feng Zhi, and Chapter 867 of Taiping Yulan ([A Book Prepared at the] Taipingtianguo Period of the Song Dynasty for Emperor's Reading) by Zhang Fang of the Song dynasty show that the Emperor of the Wu Kingdom, Sun Hao; Emperor Huizong of the Song dynasty, Zhao Ji, men of letters of the Song dynasty like Su Shi and Lu You were all fond of drinking tea. As early as the Tang dynasty, treatises on tea tasting had already appeared and tea ware was also discussed. The Song people were fend of "tea-contesting" and they paid special attention to the production and colours of tea wares5. The Ming people opined that "The small teapots are much esteemed. Each guest should bring his own teapot and prepare tea by himself in order to get the pleasure. Why? The reason is that small teapot would keep the fragrance and the taste of tea would not loseo". Besides. there were other theories which read "If one tastes tea by himself, he would attain the true spirit, if two people taste tea together, they would get the pleasure, if three people taste tea together, they would just appreciate the taste of tea, however, if seven or eight people share tea, it would be known as wasting tea"; and "tea drinking is most suitable for those engaged in self cultivation7". Such theories were regarded as treatises that reveal the true essence of tea drinking. The development of theories on tea tasting had no doubt influenced and promoted the production of tea wares. And purple clay wares form the prominent major part of tea wares.

Purple clay tea wares were sent as tributary objects to the imperial cuurt in the Qing dynasty. The National Palace Museum of Taipei has collected some round and square purple clay teapots decorated with flowers of the four seasons in colour enamels, which bear the Kangxi mark. Archives of the lmperial Workshopshow that on the twentieth day of October of the fourth year of Yongzheng reign (1726), "six large and small Yixing teapots were taken out". Documents dated to the fifth day of October of the twenty-third year of Qianlong reign (1758) record that the Suzhou Textile Workshop had sent in "four pieces of Yixing teapots" . The Palace Museum, Beijing has collected a purple clay teapot which has a Qianlong mark at the base and a set of tea wares with a container, which was designated for the use of Emperor Qianlong when he was on tour. The teapot and tea caddy inscribed with imperial poems by Emperor Qianlong are now illustrated in this catalogues.

The production of Yixing tea wares is also associated with the demand from overseas markets.

In the late Ming period, when the Portugal Eastern india Company was engaged in trading Chinese tea to Western Europe, purple clay wares were also exported to Holland, which aroused the interest of the Europeans, and they called such wares 'red porcelain wares', 'red mud wares' or 'red clay wares'. About 1680, the Dutch potter Ary de Milde started to imitate such wares. In 1690, the English potter Elers also began to imitate purple clay wares by using red clay in order to satisfy the demand for tea wares from the English upper classes who were fond of drinking tea. Mottahedeh of New York, USA has collected a square teapot decorated with openwork design of tree branches and plum flowers and a teapot with twin-spouts made by Zheng Ninghou. The latter is a teapot with overhead handle and the interior of it is divided into two compartments for oontaining two different kinds of tea. The twin-spouts have silver fittings, and the sides of which are respectively carved with English words 'green' (for green tea) and 'Bohea' (i.e. Wuyi, a place at Fujian, famous for tea production). In Japan, purple clay tea wares were imported in the late Edo period and teapots with the marks 'Hui Mengchen' and 'Chen Mingyuan' were most treasured. In the mid 19th century, under the direction of Dr. Hirano Tadashi, potters attempted to produce purple clay wares at Tokoname. In the Meiji era, the potter at Tokoname, koie Takasu invited Jin Shiheng, a native of Suzhou, who excelled in producing purple clay tea wares to teach his techniques in Japan. Among Yixing purple clay wares, there were items designated for export. For instance, the extant tea wares with the mark 'gongju' (Tributary Bureau) were manufactured for export to Thailand and they bear marks like 'Tianqi gongju', 'Shunzhi gongju', etc. These export wares were still produced in the 19th century and in the Guangxu reign, Qing dynasty, a large number of purple clay wares were exported to Japan, Mexico and other countries in South America.

Owing to the special qualities of purple clay ware, they were mostly made into tea wares in history. The development histroy of purple clay tea wares is in fact the major part of that of purple clay wares.

Men of letters of the Song dynasty like Ouyang Xiu and Mei Yaochen had composed poetic verses praising the 'purple vases', which suggest that purple clay wares might have first appeared in the Northern Song dynasty and won appreciation of the upper classes. In July 1976, accumulated layers of wasted sherds from ancient kiln sites were discovered at Yangjiaoshan, Dingshu County, Yixing, which include some coarse purple clay sherds of the early periods in purplish-red colour. These sherds show that the production techniques at that time were of low standard and eminent firing defects were found. Most of these products were teapots after restoration of the sherds. Studies reveal that the upper dating limit of the Yangjiaoshan kiln would not be eariier than the mid Northern Song dynasty. It prospered in the Southern Song dynasty and gradually declined in the mid Ming dynastyo. Such a discovery might testify that the manufacturing of purple clay wares startedin the Northern Song dynasty.

The history of purple clay wares as shown in historical records dated back to the Zhengde period of the Ming dynasty, when Gongchun learned to produce teapot from the monks at the Jinsha Monastery. According to the book Yangxian Minghuxi (Chronology of Teapois fiom Yangxian) compiled by Zhou Gaoqi in the Tianqi period, which is the first publication on purple clay wares, Gongchun's teapots were already very rare at that time. There are two extant recorded teapots by Gongchun: one is said to have been collected by Wu Dazheng and later acquired by Chu Nanqiang. The lower part of the handle of this teapot is inscribed 'Gongchun'. The lid was added by potter Pei Shimin and Huang Binhong termed this teapot as 'teapot with knur texture'. This teapot is now in the collection of the Museum of History, China. Another is originally in the collection of Dr. Luo Guixiang, who later donated it to the Hong Kong Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware. The base of this domed teapot with six lobes bears the mark 'Daming Zhengde Banian Gongchun' (the eighth year of Zhengde period, great Ming dynasty, [made by Gongchun]). Contemporary master Gu Jingzhou said that he had seen as many as twelve teapots with knur texture, however, their features do not agree with that of the Gongchun teapot as recorded in historical documents. Thus it is very difficult to authenticate them as genuine10. However, we should not ignore the historical value of the extant Gongchun teapots which are attributed as a landmark in the production of purple clay wares in the mid and late Ming Dynasty.

The most important dated purple clay ware obtained from archaeological excavations is a teapot with overhead handle now in the collection of the Nanjing Municipal Museum. This teapot, measuring 17.7 rm in height, was unearthed from the tomb of Wu Jing, an eunuch of the Ming dynasty, at Majiashan, Zhonghua Gate, Nanjing in 1965. From the same tomb an epitaph with inscription dated to the twelfth year of Jiajing reign was also unearthed (see illustration following). The paste and production method of this teapot could be similar to that of jars unearthed from Yangjiaoshan,but is a bit finer. On the surface of the teapot are 'glaze drops' which reveal that when firing the purple clay wares were not put inside saggars; and they were fired at the same time with large jars. This unearthed teapot provides an important information for the study of the purple clay wares produced in Gongchun's time11.

Shi Peng, Dong Han, Zhao Liang and Yuan Chang were famous potters of the Jiajing and Wanli periods, and were collectively known as "Four Masters". In Yangxian Mingtaolu (Record of Famous Poiiery Wares from Yangxian), Wu Qian of the Qianlong period, Qing dynasty said that Dong Han first produced lobed teapots while Zhao Liang excelled in producing teapots with overhead handies. Some of their works are still existing, though quite rare, and attract much attention from collectors and connoisseurs.

Shi Dabin, the son of Shi Peng, was the most renowned potter after Gongchun and lived in the Wanli period. The clay he potted contains sal ammoniac and his products are noted for simple and archaic forms instead of pleasing appearance. At the begikning, he imitated the teapots made by Gongchun and produced large teapots. Later he acquainted with literati like Chen Jiru and learned the art of tea appreciation from them. He then made an unusual practice by producing small teapots. Such a change was of great historical signiTicance. A book on tea says, "If the teapot has to serve tea with true taste, the major clues are that fresh waster and fire had to be used, and tea should be drunk instantly, so that the colour, sound and fragrance could be kept. For this reason, it is appropriatefor the teapots to be small and shallow and not large and deep, and the lid to be globular and not flat, so that the freshness of water and the fragrance of tea could be condensediz". Potters active in the same period or later with Shi Dabin like Li Maolin, Li Zhongfang and Hui Mengchen also excelled in producing small teapots.

The marks on the teapots made by Shi Dabin are charactenzed by his carving strokes with a sense of fluency. In Yangxian Mingtaolu (Record of Famous Pottery Wares from Yangxian), a record of another feature of his products extracted from Zhang Yanchang's Yangxian Taoshuo (Discussion ofpottery Waresfrom Yangxian) says that the lid fits the teapot so perfectly that the whole teapot could be lifted up by just holding the lid. In the Shi Dabin's period, the clay used for producing purple clay wares contains sal ammoniac - a natural mineral of ammonium chloride - and as a result, gold sprinkles would appear after firing.Wu Qian's Yangxian Mingtaolu (Record of Famous Pottery Wares ]rom Yangxian) also points out such a feature. "From the early period of Gongchun to Shi Dabin, the colour of the finely grained clay is in light black, and on the clay are silver sprinkles. This might have been produced by the sal ammoniac in the clay, and they are like charming pearls." As shown in the book Chibei Outan (Miscellaneous Noies of the Chibei Book Room) compiled by Wang Shizhen, who lived at the same time with Shi Dabin. the works of Shi Dabin had already been 'esteemed throughout the country (China)' when they first appeared. Zhou Gaoqi also said "(his) teapots share half of the market throughout the country13". Even the novels contain records on his works. Chapter two of the book Chuke Pai'an fingqi (Excidng Stories, First Edition), the Shangyoutang edition of the first year of Chongzhen, has a story which describes the interior decoration of a room of Wang Xi and says, "On the wall, there is a painting on paper by Zhou Zhimian, and on the table, there is a teapot by Shi Dabin." It is unfortunate that such treasured teapots are very rare and there are only sixteen pieces recorded in the book Yangxian Shahu Tukao (Illusirated Study of Pottery Teapois from Yangxian) by Li Jingkang and Zhang Hong. Although we could see some tangible pieces or illustrated pieces in books attributed to him, very few in number could be identified as genuine. However, it is fortunate that archaeological finds in recent years have provided valuable information for the study of his works. which will be discussed in detail later.

The most renowned potter to come after Shi Dabin was Chen Yuan of the Kangxi and Yongzheng periods, Qing dynasty. His literary names include Mingyuan or Huyin. Wu Qian said that "his specialised talent is very outstanding in the world", and even Gongchun and Shi Dabin "can not surpass him". Chen acquainted with men of letters like Yang Zhongne, Cao Lianrang and Ma Sizan, etc. His products of tea wares and scholar's table objects amounted to several ten types and the calligraphic style of his marks reveal the legacy of that of the Jin and Tang dynasties. Objects in the shape of fruits and melons made by him, such as teapot in the shape of bundles of pine, bamboo and plum blossom, dish in the shape of leaf with a cicada, brush stand in the shape of a plum trunk, wrist-rest in the shape of bamboo trunk and six types of fruits (water-chestnut, arrowhead water-caltrop, chestnut, walnut and peanut) are all noted for delicate craftsmanship and lifelike essence, which are highly treasured. Before him there is another potter Chen Ziqi of the Chongzhen period, who excelled in modelling naturalistic objects like pomegranate and crabe. It is said that Chen Ziqi was the father of Chen Yuan, however, judging from their ages, such a relationship could not be established. Though there are only ten piecesof Chen Yuan's works recorded in Li Jingkang and Zhang Hong's book, his achievements had in fact opened a new realm in the art of purple clay wares.

Chen Hongshou (1768 - 1822), pseudonym Mansheng, of the Qianlong and Jiajing periods was a native of Qiantang, Zhejiang province. He was known coilectively as "Eight Masters of Xiling School" with Huang Yi, Xi Gang and Zhao Zhichen etc. and excelled in literature, painting, calligraphy and seal-carving. He had servedasthe magistrateof Yixing for three years and developed a keen interest in purple clay wares. Moreover, he had designed eighteen types of teapots and employed Yang Pengnian, Yang's brother Baonian and sister Fengnian to produce them. The teapots made by them often bear the mark "Amantuoshi" at the base and the mark "Pengnian" beneath the handie and are collectively known as "Mansheng teapot" . The surface of these teapots is usually flat and smooth, on which paintings and calligraphiesare carved. Besides Chen Mansheng himself, other people who engaged in composing the inscriptions included his close friends like Jiang Tingxiang, Guopinjia, Gao Shuangquan, and Zha Meishi, etc. The participation of literati, officials and collectors in designing and producing teapots had actually started in the late Ming period and those men like Xiang Yuanbian, Zhao Yiguang, Dong Qichang, Chen Jiru, and Song Luo were all enthusiastic in taking up such a practice. Virtually, the combination of the Yixing purple clay wares with other arts such as painting, calligraphy and seal-carving was promoted by Chen Mansheng. Such a style became popular thereafter and Chen Mansheng had indeed contributed a lot to the promotion of the Yixing pottery industry.

It is said that over several thousand pieces of 'Mansheng teapot' have been produced. In the collection of Dr. Luo Guixiang, there is a teapot with the inscription 'Teapot No. 1379, inscribed by Pinjia', which is now in tlie collection of the Hong Kong Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Warei'. Another example illustrated in the book Yangxian Shahu Tukao (lllusirated Stady of Poiiery Teapois from Yangxian) bears the inscription 'Teapot No. 4614, production supervised by Master Man, for the appreciation of (Pinyin translation for the first character not available) Quan', which is now in the collection of the Shanghai Museumis. As a matter of fact, if there were so many `Mansheng teapots' produced, they could hardly be made by a few potters like Yang Pengnian, Yang Baonian and Yang Fengnian. It was disoovered recenfly that some of the `Mansheng teapots' bear marks inscribed by other potters.
Shao Daheng of the Daoguang and Xianfeng periods was another master excelled in producing teapots. There are few records on him, however, his extant works are noted for excellent craftsmanship and distinctive design, which show that he was more talented than other common potters. Three teapots with his mark 'Daheng' are illustrated in the present catalogue. Among them, the teapot in the shape of a fish transforming into a dragon was first produced by Shao Daheng and the one in the shape of a bundle of bamboo with design of eight trigrams is another superb work by him. The third onewith a round bladder and copper overhead handle bear a dated inscription 'suici jiachen mengqiu zhiyue' (dated the autumn month of the year jiachen), which provides valuable information on the active period of Shao Dalieng. Teapots made by him had indeed produced significant impact in later dynasties.


Most famous purple clay potter masters and their Tea Pot from China Ancient to the present age and today:

Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368 - A.D. 1644)

Gong Chun (A.D.1500-?), first master who have name for made Yixing Purple sand tea pot in China ancient.there was only one true tea pot in this world that was collected in China History Museum in Bei Jin

Shi Da Bing (A.D.1580-A.D.1650). He had invented a full conventional making technologyfor make Yixing tea pot.His pots were collected in Shanghai History Museum ,Nan Jin History Museum and San Francisco Asia Art Museum in USA.


Qing Dynasty(A.D.1644-A.D.1911)

Cheng Ming Yuan(A.D.1680-?) ,He was a very famous Master in Qing Dynasty,His tea pots were collected in many history museums such as Washington Art Museum,Seattle Art Museum.Hong Kong Chinese university Museum,Shanghai Museum.Tian Jing Art Museum,Yixing Pottery Museum.

Cheng Man Shen(A.D.1768-A.D.1822).He invented famous "Man Shen Pot"that maind 38 designs and bringed great effect to later masters.

Shao Da Heng((A.D.1837-A.D.1874) ,He had leaved only a little of the tea pots in this world,but all of these tea pots are excellence.

Huang Yu Ling(A.D.1842-A.D.1913) ,He is importest purple sand potter master in Qing Dynasty.His pot was collected in Bei Jin the Imperial Palace Museum now


The Republic of China(A.D.1911-A.D.1949 ) to today:

Cheng Shou Zhen(A.D.1857-A.D.1939) His pot had got gold cup in 1926 Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Celebration and the International Expositions in Leipzig and Liege in the 1930s.

Yu Guo Liang(A.D.1874-A.D.1939) ,a famous purple sand potter master in period of the Republic of China.

Feng Gui Ling(A.D.1907-A.D.1945)

Gu Jing Zhou(A.D.1915-A.D.1996) ,He is one of the most outatanding potters in purple caly of our age,He is praised as "a great master of our period","a star in the art of tea pot making".His reputation rivals that of Shi Da Bing of Ming Dynasty.

Zhu Ke Xin( A.D.1904-A.D.1986)

Pei Shi Ming(A.d.1892-A.D.1979)

Wu Yun Geng(A.D.1892-A.D.1969)

Jiang Rong( A.D.1919- )

Wang Yian Xian(A.D.1943- ).

Lu Yiao Chen(A.D.1941- ).

Xu Han Tang(A.D.1932- ).

Li Chang Hong(A.D.1937- ).

Gu Dao Rong(a.D.1937- ).

Zhou Gui Zheng(A.D.1943-).

Xie Man Lun(A.D.1942- ).

Ge Jun ,a famous influential young potter craftsman

Hua Jian Min , a famous influential young potter craftsman


The Professional Training Pattern of Purple-clay Pottery Art

As a kind of folkart, purple-clay pottery, like many other crafts, was passed down form masters to apprentices in the ancient way. It was taught face to face, and hand to hand. There was no exception to this in modern or ancient times, in China or elsewhere. The apprentice generally had to learn for three to five or six years under the master's guidance. There was a fixed ceremony for an apprentice to acknowledge an artist as his master, and he had to kneel down before the master. The master-apprentice contract was to be signed by the guarantee. During the apprenticeship, the apprentice was only offered meals, without pay. And the master's artistic style, creative experience and technical level would inevitably leave impression upon the apprentice's technique, idea and moral character. Even if a famous artist, the artistic trace and behavioral pattern of his earlier ages could be found in the course of his style-making.

The Training Pattern In The History

The earliest purple-clay artist recorded was Gong Chun, originally Wu Yishan's servant. When he was accompanying his master reading in Jingsha Temple, he secretly learned the old work's skill and thus began making pottery. So the old monk was considered his master.

Shi Dabing was a consummate craftsman in Ming Dynasty. He had many learners, of which, Li Zhongfan was the most brilliant one. Some of his teapots were actually made by Li Zhongfan. Other disciples were: Xu Youquan, Ou Zhenchun, Chao Wenjing, Chao Wenying, Chen Junqing, Shen Junyong. There was no literal record after that period. So it was difficult to make inferences.

Huang Yuling, the famous artist in Qing Dynasty, was taught by Chao Xiangpu, and Cheng Shouzheng was Chao Youting's disciple.

The Period During The Republic of China

In 1931, "Public Vocational School of Yixing, Jiangsu"was established. In it ,they set up the "potter branch", which was renamed "Kiln branch" the next year. In 1933, the "kiln branch"separated from Yixing vocational school and in dependently founded "Junior Pottery Vocational Scholl of Yixing, Jiangsu", which enrolled students who had higher primary school education or above. Situated in Shushan Bei Chang, it made use of the pottery factory as their workshop. The first president was Wang Shijie, who had graduated from Empire University of Industry, Tokyo, Japan. Wu Yun-geng, Zhu Ke-xin, etc, were invited to be teachers and technicians of the experiment workshop. From then on, the traditional teaching way of "one master, one apprentice" was changed. A master may admit many disciples, while a disciple could also learn from different masters.

In 1921, "Applied Pottery Company" founded "Potters' School". Yu Guoliang, Chao Yunru were teachers at that time. Excellent students were: Feng Guiling, Chu Liang, Chen Hanxi, etc.

Wang Shenyi taught Wang Baogeng, Zhu Kexin, Wu Yungeng. Jiang Zuocheng taught Pei Shiming, Jin Ashou taught Wang Yanchun.

After 1949

In 1954 the purple-clay production team was established in Shushan Workshop. Many purple-clay artists were assembled together from other places. Among them were: pottery carving artist, Ren Ganting, model-makers: Zhu Kexin, Gu Jingzhou, Wang Yanchun, Pei Shiming, Wu Yungeng, Jiang Rong, etc.

In 1955
Zhu Kexin admitted Pan Chunfang, Bao Xinyuan, Si Zhipeng, Li Qingxian, Li Bifang, Ni Shunsheng, Cao Wanfen, Wu Qingan;
Gu Jingzhou admitted Li Changhong, Gao Haigeng, Shen Juhua, shan Shufang, Bao Xiuyun;
Wu Yungeng admitted Gao Yongjin, Si Jihua, Xu Xuan and Zhu Fengying, Wang Xiaolong, Li Tianxing and Li Yuanru as apprentices.

In 1956
Wang Yanchun admitted Gao Honghing, Chen Xiaogeng, Ge Yubing, JiangHongda, Ji Debao, Bao Saifeng, Fang Lipiu;
Wu Yungeng admitted Si Yuqing, He Tingchu, Xu Ciyuan, Fan Hongquan, Wang Yuexian, Xie Xuexian, Wu Xinnao;
Yu Honggeng admitted Xu Maotang, Bao Qijun;
Ren Ganting admitted Xu Xiutang, Xian Qiying, Feng Xiya, Chao Xinhe, Wang Pinrong, Zhang Hetang and Zhu Rongjuan as apprentices.

From 1958 to 1959
Zhu Kexin admitted Wangyanxian, Fan Hongquan, Xie Manlun;
Gu Jingzhou accepted Gao Haigeng, Li changhong, Shen Quhua, Zhou Guizheng;
Wang Yanchun admitted He Daohong, Gao Hoonghing;
Wu Yun-geng accepted Lu Yaochen, Xu Ciyuan;
Chen Fuyuan accepted Pan Chiping, Zhou Zhunyan, Gu Chaopei as apprentices.


Material and Characteristics

Yixing tea pot's Material and Characteristics:

The yixing purple clay teapot is reputed as the "first of all tea-sets in the world" for its unique material and characteristics?tea inside it does not seep though no glaze is applied on its surface, tea brewed in it tastes rich and mellow for the teapot is porous;tea in it does not decay or change its color when kept overnight, it long retains its full flavor, for the base clay is odorless; the teapot keeps tea warm in winter, but not hot for the hand in summer, it does not crack when heated on a stove or when boiling water is poured in; the longer it is used, the more lustrous it becomes, the more refined and classic it looks, and the more fragrant the tea kept in it.

Yixing tea pots are made by a very special unglazed clay material called "zisha" clay.

Zisha, or purple clay, from which Yixing ware is made, is found throughout the hilly southern area of the Yixing region. The particular qualities of this clay substance set the Yixing apart from other unglazed earthenware teapots. Geologists have pinpointed the origins of Zisha in the area compressed sedimentary lake deposits.

There are actually three different varieties of Zisha. The most common of these are the Zini or rose-brown clays. The other two more rare clays are know as Banshanlu or creamy white to light-brown clays and Zhuni or red clays. Chemically, all are composed primarily of quartz, kaolin and mica and contain high amounts of iron oxide, which lends the clays their purple-red color. Zisha clays are also fairly sandy.
Recognized by artisans and literati centuries ago, these characteristics of the Zisha or purple clays help to make Yixing pots especially well-suited for brewing tea. Excavations have shown that the composition and structure of the clays used in making authentic Yixing teapots today closely resemble those used in pots from the 1500s and later.

Yixing tea pot each piece is shaped by hand on a potter wheel and left unglazed, both because it makes better tea and because doing so allows the color of the clay to shine through. Highly prized for its porous nature, which is excellent at absorbing the flavor of tea, Purple sand or clay does not really in purple color only, it depends on the layering from the ground, different layers has different color, Yixing clay occurs naturally in the characteristic colors: light buff, cinnabar red and purplish brown. it can have many natural color after fired.

Other colors are created by mixing these three clay. A principal factor in determining the depth of the color is the concentration of iron in the clay.

Zisha clay has very special characteristics chemistry composition and texture,a 4% 0f the water absorption rate,a very low thermal conductivity,and other unique qualities,it already is confirmed and is received that zisha clay is best raw materials for made teapot in whold world. When properly refined and fired to a high (but sub-porcelain) temperature, it produces a type of pottery that is slightly absorbent. Legend has it that if you have prepared tea in an Yixing teapot many times, you can reach a point where by adding boiled water alone you can make tea because the teapot itself holds enough of the tea flavour. the characteristics of yixing teapots as follow:

(1) One of the special attributes of Yixing teapots is the ability to retain heat. Small pores produced in the clay during firing retain both heat and flavor, and the low shrinkage rate of Yixing clay allows the skillful potter to make a closely-fitting lid that inhibits oxidation thus heightening the tea flavor.

Yixing tea pot can keep tea's heat,primary colour,aroma and taste.this is proved by the test:the fine qualities of tea will been retain for 5 days if you use yixing teapot.but it only can retain 3 days if you using other ceramics teapots.

(2) The Yixing teapot is free of lead, arsenic, cadmium, and other toxic materials. Yixing ware is unlike other unglazed earthenware teapots. The Yixing teapot has a fine and solid texture, a four percent water absorption rate, a very low thermal conductivity, and a double air hole design which enhances the pot brewing properties. The principal standards for evaluating a teapot brewing quality are the color of the tea soup produced and the level of tea phenol, caffeine, and aminophylline. The performance of the Yixing teapot is far superior to that of the standard teapot with respect to all four of these criteria. Not only are the Yixing teapots beautiful and unique works of art, but also, they are excellent brewing vessels. in fact,yixing teapots exceeds the strict standards imposed by china's pottery reserch institute and are also approved by the usa"fda".to ensure this high standard of quality,

(3) After firing, Yixing tea pot is solid and impermeable, yet porous enough to "breathe". A Yixing teapot enhances the tea brewed in it with respect to colour, smell, and taste. Its walls seem to absorb the tea and keeps fragrance. In summer, it keeps tea overnight without spoiling. With hot tea inside, it does not scald the hand with purple sand being a slow heat-conductor. But in winter, it may serve as a handwarmer and may be left on a low fire to make certain types of tea which need simmering. To the Chinese tea connoisseur, it is the "ideal teapot".


Unique Yixing Purple Clay

It is said that in ancient times, Dingshu was merely an ordinary village on the lakeshore of Taihu.Villagers went out to farm when the sun rose and went back home when the sun set, making jars and pots out of pottery clay for daily uses at leisure. They led a simple life. One day, however, a wandering monk of unusual appearance came to the village. He shouted over walking, "Rich and noble clay! Rich and noble clay! "The villagers were curious and watched him. The monk, seeing through their hesitation, shouted again, "If not noble, why not rich?" The people were even puzzled, staring at him blankly. The strange monk shouted in a lounder voice and walked on with quicker steps, as if there were no one else present. Some wise old men felt strange and followed him, moving towards Huanglong & Qinglong mountains. Suddenly, the monk disappeared at a corner. The old looked around, catching sight of several newly-dug hollows, in which was clay of various colors. They carried the clay home, pounding and firing, and unexpectedly got a totally different color effect from the past. The villagers imitated them one after another. Thus, the reputable purple-clay came into being.The raw material of purple-clay pottery is really of various colors and called the "clay of clays and rock of rocks". Purple-clay refers generally to the clay of green, red and gray color and is produced at Huanglong Mountain in Dingshu, Yixing, hidden under the yellow rock between the mixed clay mine. Green clay is the mixed grease and red clay is the stone yellow, usually under the tender ore bed.

Purple-clay, a kind of ore body, is as hard as rock when unearthed. But piled on the open air, blown by wind and struck by rain for months, it will turn into small loose grains, as small as soybeans. Then it has to be crushed to powder by a stone mill, sifted by a sieve and disturbed in the vessel with some water, before it can be rubbed into wet lumps, the crude clay. But before it is used to make vessels, it is to be beaten with a wood hammer for tens of times.

The plasticity of ready clay, the hardness of the shaped clay-body and the low contraction rate make it possible to create pottery of various kinds, fantastic designs and different lines. For hundreds and thousands of years, generations of artists have kept on experimenting and exploring and added splendour to the civilization of mankind.

The characteristics of the purple-clay may be summed up into following aspects:

Of high plasticity. With a liquid limit of 33.4%, modeling limit of 15.9% and an index of 17.5%, purple-clay is of high plasticity and can be made into various shapes of different sizes. It has strong adhesion, but is not glutinous in hands and implements. The mouth, handle and the teapot body can be made separately before they are stuck together and polished with clay. The clay pieces of square vessels may be got together with grease clay, too. Such a large capacity materially enables the pottery artists to fully display their creative intention and give free play to their artistic techniques.

Of low contraction rate. From a claybase to a fired product, its contraction rate is only about 8%. It also has a wide range of firing temperature, a low deformation rate and a strong intensity of the raw chaybase. So the teapot cover suits the mouth very tightly, the contour is up to standard and can not be twisted. The handle may be designed thicker than that of a porcelain pot, and the round surface of the pot mouth is in proportion with the mouth. Besides, the clay can be used to make open-mouth vessels and teapots with mouth and body of the same width.

Purple-clay can be processed into pottery without any addition of other materials. The produced pottery have two layers of gas hole construction: close-mouth layer, that is the gas hole inside the nodule body; and open-mouth layer, which refers to the gas hole group around the nodule body. The two layers of gas hole provide the purple-clay pottery with fine ventilation. In addition, the tiny gas holes of high density possess strong absorption, which the glazed ceramic teapot lacks. Meantime, precisely and reasonably shaped, the teapot, with its mouth and cover fitting perfectly, has a displacement error within a tolerance of less than 0.5mm, which decreases the possibility of the air mixed with germs entering into the pot. Therefore, the colour and flavour and fragrance of tea may last for quite a long time and delay the time when the tea goes bad. Furthermore, purple-clay teapot has the capacity to tolerate sudden heat and coldness. Even if boiling water and cold water are alternately poured into it, it will not explode or crack.

Another uniqueness of purple-clay is that it needn't be glazed after it is shaped. It is smooth and shiny. After it is handled and caressed for a long time. It will send out dim light. While pottery clay of other texture can not be compared to it in this aspect.


The Art of Shaping and Making Wares with Applied Decoration

People have formed new demands with teapot under the modern living style and prosperous tea culture. The art of purple clay teapot has earned a good name not only with its practical applicability, but also with its content, spirit, and beautiful appearance. The art of teapot has demonstrated an influential ability through its form, spirit, and personality. Purple clay teapot has performed its fullest in the face of art.

The art of purple clay teapot has formed a series of unique and reasonable production through the execution and improvement of technology. Potters have received serious skill training to express their emotion, experience, life, and concept through the application of clay material and tool. Potters have demonstrated their creativity in their own style with unique art language. Purple clay contains meditative concept of art and design that should be included in the list of collectors.

The style and gesture of purple clay teapot should be stressed first, then teapot body that is formed with focal point, line, surface, and body. For example, the arrangement of mouth, handle, spout, base, foot, lid, and a coordinate and balanced proportion. The following detail should also be attended the structure of profile, the producing technique of shade, the relation between solid and void, etc. The viewpoint of collectors and creators will reach a common ground and enjoy the true meaning of purple clay art only if they can share the same concept of beauty.


Due to the requirement of applicability, all of the Chinese wares are formed with the art of spout, neck, shoulder, belly, and base, therefore, the proportion, relation, change of formation, connection of each part on teapot are the fundamental elements of creation.}

There is no exception for purple clay, in the appreciation of a teapot, the total form comes foremost in consideration. Detailed parts including mouth, neck, shoulder, belly, foot, base, cover, knob, spout and handle are treated in subordination to the total form. The details should be designed to harmonize with the whole, and appropriate treatment of these parts will be able to highlight distinctive features of the form.

1. Detailed parts of a teapot should be treated with equal care and clarity, as they all contribute to the effect of a unified and refined form. The turn of angle at the mouth, base and foot should be presented clearly. The interior and exterior rims of the mouth should be sharp and crisp, just as the base should be clearly differentiated from the foot. The reason is that these parts mark a change in outline and in shape of a teapot.

2. The recessed cover and the pressed cover produce rich liner rhythms, while the truncated cover forms an integral part of the teapot.

3. In order to create stylistic uniformity with the teapot, the knob of the teapot is sometimes a miniature reproduction of the body in its upright or inverted form. At other times, the form of the knob is an extended outline of the cover or the body or modelled in the shape of a bridge whose shape matches harmoniously with the form of body. Designers usually utilize the relevant subject to make an interesting knob with image to receive a better coordination of the creation. For example, the teapot with the theme of Tree Frog and Lily at Night.

4. The spout and handle of the teapot are visual extensions of the shoulder rib that influence the balance of teapot structure. Inappropriate placement and proportions of teapot structure, and these parts will move the teapot's central gravity away from the central axis, upsetting the balance of form and the stability of the vessel.

Therefore, in addition to the integrated visual balance of spout, handle, and body, the space occupied by the spout and the handle should be on two sides of the teapot symmetrically for the effect of grace and stability. For example, the "Blast Teapot" of He Daohong. Sometimes, the handle and spout slope towards the same direction for the effect of balance and ingenuity. On the other hand, the balance of spout and handle is not stressed, instead, the contrast of their curves is the key feature for demonstration. A visual balance of the curve from spout to mouth of the teapot is created for the stability of the teapot taking as a whole.

5. A teapot can have its center of gravity placed in its upper, middle or lower part according to its form. A teapot of small height and a wide base has a center of gravity resting near the base of the vessel. In this case, the form enhances the sense of stability, for example, the creation of Lu Yaochen. On the other hand, a teapot of greater height and smaller base has a center of gravity towards its upper part. Its form should convey a sense of lightness and vivacity, for example, the creation of He Daohong.

6. The stability of teapot is influenced by the base of teapot. The teapot in stone weight shape has a profile of an upright triangle with the center of gravity placed at the base, the form, however, is enlivened by the three boss legs, which offset the weight of a flat base. Take the overhead handle teapot of Wang Yinxian for example, the central gravity of the teapot is at its bottom, however, a relationship of solid and void is formed in the image of overhead handle. The teapot is given a great style with personality through the fine touch of a graceful body.


The art of purple clay teapot is presented with the gesture of height, low, chubby, thin, hard, soft, square, round, etc. The concept of the art is ,,the square is never the one of the same square while the round always varies,,, of which, it is divided into the category of styling art and decorating art. Plain geometric ware and vein line are the main items of styling art while applied decoration is the main item of decorating art. The artist of purple clay teapot has created the ware with a three-dimension body through the application of focal point, line. and surface.

1. Plain Geometric Ware

All plain geometric wares follow this pattern: they feature radial symmetry when viesed square and axial symmetry when contemplated from above. To facilitate the making and the practical use, most of the purple clay teapots are modelled in round or symmetrical forms, with the center of gravity resting on the central axis of the vessel. That is, a vertical line extended from the center of gravity resting on the central axis of the vessel. That is . a vertical line extended from the center of gravity will meet the center of the teapot's base, for example, the hexagonal teapot of Wang Yinxian. The viewer of purple clay teapots react rather relaxed and peaceful in a stable environment for production. The stabilized vision has fulfilled the fundamental requirement of "stability".

The art of making plain geometric ware is the easiest to learn but hardest to master. The plain geometric ware is completely exposed because of its simplicity, and unadomed because of its plainness. The slightest divergence will become more glaring than with products of greater intricacy. Therefore, a perfect plain geometric ware cannot be created without the knowledge of outline, line, volume, proportion, and manufacturing technique.

Another feature of the plain geometric ware is its large, smooth and plain surface which provides ideal space for pottery creation. Thus, the combination of artisans and teapot art has formed the good saying of "the carving makes the pot priceless, while teapot carries the carving down through the ages." For example, the compressed round teapot of Gu Jingzhou is decorated with the paint of Fan Jen.

All plain geometric wares, be they historic or of modern times, are graceful and complete with precise structure, harmonious proportion, coordinate rhythm between solid and void, and subtle strength. It is a great combination of content, formality, and fonction.

2. Vein Line

Artists take advantage of the exceptional advantages that purple clay pottery contains unique raw material which is fine and plastic, unglazed surface and bare biscuit. These features provide conditions for creating the light and shade of veins, and facilitate the expression of vein effect on a purple clay ware. Therefore, with the concept of ''the combination of points and the lines,, and ,,surface cutting,'' artists of successive dynasties took advantage of the wonderful vein lines and the harmonious cutting method to symmetrize the structure of purple clay pottery. The design of purple clay pottery requires the width of lines to be appropriate, the turning explicit and the lines themselves lively, for example, the "teapot with mallow and wind design" ofJiang Jenshong. Only when angles and lines are made explicitly and the concave-convex relation symmetrical can the admirers feel a perfect combination of substance and space, for example, the creation of GuJingzhou.

The body, lid, mouth, and spout of the teapot are in the shape ofhexagonal. Especially, when molding a teapot, potters should see to it that the lid fits the body tightly and also turns around smoothly, which means that if you turn the lid, it always dovetails with the body. When used for decorations, vein lines are required to suit the theme of the teapot.

In addition, as the veins produce a strong melodious and rhythmic effect, then hand touching the veined ware will have a strange feeling - the feeling of order and measured tempo. How they are treated, whether made bright or dark, wide or narrow, concave or protruding, reserved or unrestrained, dynamic or static, is closely related to the theme. Appropriate decorations will make a purple clay pottery ware look rich, forceful and vigorous. They will give the work more artistic appeal by making it bright but not dull, gaudy but not vulgar, for example, the "teapot with the design of prunes and plate" by He Daohong.

When decorating round and square vessels, the vein lines can form various and lively geometric shapes, such as circle, square, trapezium and triangle with a great space for creation.

Within modern culture and creative concept, the styling of purple clay teapot has broken the traditional mold, for example, the design of hexagonal, pyramid, polygon, etc. for a great impression at sight. No matter what a massive variety the purple clay teapot has presented, it has never failed the fondamental requirement of "stability."

3. Applied Decoration

Apply the image of fruit, flower, tree, insect, fish, bird, animal directly ftom nature to create a great teapot. Artists have expressed their idea through decorating pottery with the aforesaid images partly or totally, for example, the pine, bamboo, di prunes teapot with overhead handle by He Daohong.

The inspiration of the image of appliances in daily life is for the creation of pottery; for example, teapot in stone weight shape, jar, can, cylinder, square, etc.

The "Konchen teapot" of Gu Jingzhou, "Pine, bamboo, &prunes teapot" of Jiang Rong, and "Prunes trunk teapot" of Wang Yinxian are all expressed in a non-symmetrical body shape for an effect of integration and diversification.

Artists must be able to demonstrate the theme of teapot with various points, Iines, surface through a flowing-vision and a consecutive change. It is a combination of contrast and supplement for a better appearance and an energetic life of purple clay teapot.

Purple clay pottery is with diversified gesture that can be deemed as the treasure of styling art. It is an accumulation of creativity through years of practice and revision. Bases on the foundation, the art of purple clay pottery is becoming perfect. However, it is not different from the other fields of art that skills and understanding remain two most important features for success.

The combination of beautiful body, meditated spirit, and complicate content is the one and only way to get into the paradise of art and to own a priceless teapot.


Appreciation Of Purple Clay tea pot

The art of Yixing purple clay were originated in the Song dynasty (960-1279). It reached its peak in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties and continues to develop to this day, the shapes of the teapots becoming more varied and refined. The creative concept of the potter is directly influenced by the aesthetic viewpoint of his audience. Appreciation and authentication of this unique purple clay pottery art is therefore vitally important. It is thus necessary to discuss the aesthetics of the art of purple clay ware.

It is commonly known that Yixing purple clay has a unique character all its own. The unique ore of raw materials at Yixing is one contributory factor. The main formation techniques are the body beating method and the luting method. These are quite different from the formation methods employed in other ceramic trades.

Then again, its decoration is associated with a higher cultural level than is the case with other ceramic ware. Taken together, all these aesthetic elements are found in the art of Yixing purple clay ware.
How should one appreciate a work? Take a teapot for example -- the most famous form of purple clay ware -- and analyse it according to traditional formation methods. Based on the theory and regulations of plastic art, the main body is usually composed of dots, lines and surfaces and the attachments are the teapot spout, handle, mouth-rim, base, foot, lid and knob. There should be an appropriate relationship and proportions between the various parts. The outlines of different parts should flow smoothly into each other. Attention should also be given to the treatment of the convex and concave surfaces and the contrast between solid and void. There are infinite variations which give the object (vessel or teapot) its rich sense of beauty.

The aesthetics of purple clay pottery can be classified from an abstract point of view into the four elements of form, spirit, air and gesture. Form is the beauty of shape, the outline of the work and its formal representation. Spirit means the spiritual perfection and rhythm of a piece, while air is the ethereal quality expressed in the contents of the art work and its harmonious colouration. Gesture constitutes the formal characteristics such as the tall, short, fat, thin, hard, soft, square or round quality shown in the form. A genuinely perfect work is one which success-fully combines all these attributes. Here we must distinguish between the logical and the emotional approach. If a teapot connoisseur inclines towards the logical approach, he will be very concerned with the appropriate size of the teapot, the angle of the spout, the domed or flat shape of the lid, the tallenss or shortness of the body and its functional use-tea-brewing. Thus he applies logic without any real interest, whereas art appreciation should ideally include both these aspects. Irrespective of its shape, a work should arouse interest. With interest comes affection, nurturing of the soul and long-lasting enjoyment. Therefore in appreciating a new form, one should comprehend the nature of its beauty before attempting to criticize it. The enthusiastic response of purple clay ware lovers is based on this premise.

Naturally, as a practical craft item, its usefulness is very important. Its convenience in use generates feelings of contentment and harmony. The size of the teapot should therefore be designed according to tea-brewing customs and practices. The smooth flow of water from the spout and the practical and comfortable handle design also require careful consideration.

Historically, the appreciation of purple clay ware can be classified into three level.

(1) The elegant pottery art level -- the work should be both logical and interesting, possessing beauty in form and spirit and displaying an excellent production technique. It is an attractive work with universal appeal, finding favour with people from all walks of life. It can thus be regarded as the best work of the highest calibre.

(2) The second level covers high quality products reproduced in specific quantities for sale. These works are exquisitely crafted and their forms completed and satisfying.

(3) The common product created for everyday use in accordance with people's local customs. These works vary in shape and size and the production techniques used are merely average.

My discussion here is focused on works of art. The content and form of a work comprise many elements which are all interrelated. Perfect form and exquisite manufacturing technique are of paramount importance. In addition, the finished form might be decorated to enhance the work's visual impact. The suitability of the subject and content of the decorative motif. the use of the decorative material and the production technique all require consideration. These are all related to the artistic level of the potter and the discerning eye of the connoisseur.

This can be illustrated by some examples. For instance, the traditional pottery engraving on purple clay ware can enhance one's appreciation of the item. The content of the inscription should be an excerpt from an appropriate literary work. The calligraphy and painting should be brilliantly executed and of high quality. The engraving technique employed should be reminiscent of the traditional art of bronze engraving and seal carving.

In recent years, enthusiasm for purple clay ware has grown significantly, partly owing to the promotion of the tea and pottery cultures. High quality products are in limited supply and cannot keep up with the increasing demand. Especially rare are elegant works by famous potters. This has inevitably led to the emergence of a minority of craftsmen devoid of artistic ethics. They team up with cunning traders to forge works by famous artists, flooding the market with bad forgeries and cheating many purple clay ware lovers. It is therefore necessary to discuss authentication techniques. As with the authentication of paintings and calligraphy, one should start by considering the dual aspects of logical perception and emotional understanding. Logical perception involves the study of aesthetics to heighten aesthetic awareness. Exchanging views on the works of famous artists and discussing and exploring in depth the styles of their works helps to sharpen one's feelings for them. Experience should be built up by studying their potting techniques, expertise, use of colour and selection of clay, the characteristics of their seals and certain other key aspects. These are essential for authentication. In any art form, an outstanding artist must have artistic techniques and qualities unique to himself. This is personal style and rhythm and flows from an inspiration which the forger lacks. If a forger has a profound under-standing of all these, then he too is a great master. It is not necessary for him to forge works by others without taking credit. I dare to venture that which is genuine is born genuine. That which is forgery can never be genuine. Forgers have no aspirations and forgery is totally shameful and abhorrent.

I shall also briefly discuss imitation and forgeries in the history of purple clay art. From the mid-19th century to the early 20th ,century was a popular period for imitating the works of ancient masters. There were those who copied extant works by famous artists and there were works designed by curio merchants based on descriptions contained in old texts on purple clay history. Forged inscriptions by famous masters of the past were added, as were seals. Over the past few decades I have witnessed these types of forgery and have drawn the following conclusions: All teapots imitating the work of masters of the Ming dynasty far exceed the standard of Ming works in potting technique and colouration. The reason is obvious. As society progresses, so too do science and technology. Thus, comparing imitations with extant works of the Ming dynasty, it is evident that later copies are far superior. As for the excellent works by great masters of the early to mid-/Qing dynasty-Chen Mingyuan, Sheng Si, and Shao Daheng, no matter how exquisite the copies, they are deficient in spirit and rhythm. This can be likened to the difference between jade and soapstone. However, if these copies are extant today, they still have a reasonable appreciation and collection value. They should be distinguished from the forgeries of the present day. Over recent years forgeries have been produced based on illustrations contained in old texts and their workmanship is poor. Their main objective is to cheat people and one must be careful not to fall into the trap.

I have merely expressed here my random thoughts on the subject for the benefit of purple clay art-lovers. I hope that knowledgeable readers will be quick to point out my inadequacies.


The Evolvement In Modeling Crafts

The modeling methods of purple-clay pottery, since Zhengde period in Ming Dynasty, has been becoming more and more perfect, owing to generations of artists' exploration and improvement as well as the progress of science and technology. There are various methods which may be summarized into: handforming, injecting mud forming, applying base forming and printing, etc. The handforming base forming, method, an ancient craft, includes beating pot body and inlaying pot body.

Beating pot body forming: First cut the ready clay into pieces in a certain length, width and thickness. Then beat them into clay slices and strips according to the vessel being made. Make scratches on the clay to show the width and whirl the mouth, bottom and body pieces. Stick the body pieces in the center of the revolving plate, and put the clay piece around the body pieces to form a clay tube. Then the left hand inside the round tube, use the right hand, with a thin wood beater, to beat it into desired shape.

Inlaying body forming is applied to make square vessels. First cut the clay into square pieces, then beat them into slices according to the required sizes and make them into sample pieces. Cut the clay into slices according to the sample and stick them together with grease clay. The key of hand forming lies in the appropriateness of the claybase forming and the polishing of the surface. The accurate polishment may make the structure more rigid, the contour more proper and the wrinkles more distinct so as to attain the making requirement of being round as pearls and smooth as jade and create the effect of a unified whole.

Injecting mud forming. Widely adopted in recent ceramic production, it takes advantage of the absorption of the plaster model. Inject mud into the model, then take off the model, a hollow claybase is available.


Judging a Pot

The tea pot is a product of applied art. It must be practical, pour well, fell good, look good, and balance pleasantly in the hand. But to the artisy who first creates a new design the tea pot becomes a vehicle for Fine Art. He uses it to express emotion-nobility, rectitude, long levity, prosperity, serenity, tenderness. And a good piece should affect the connoisseur with these emotions.

To achieve these effects the makers make use of shape and style. Tea pots may be square or round, smooth or segmented, solid or graceful, abstract or made after particular shapes in nature. He may choose the pine, bamboo or plum tree, the orchid or lotus flowerrr, the dragon or the phonix or both. Pots are made on the likenesses of fruit, crops, fish, birds, turtles, frogs, squirrels and insects. Their shapes are inspired by stones, rocks, streams, wallsm wells, and 'mountain and river' landscapes. Or the artist may use the formal patterns of the tripod or the coin.

Purple clay, which has a high iron content, gives its name to Yixing pottery, but this is not the only colour to emerge from Yixing kilns. Red clay and yellow clay are also used, independtly or mixed, and after firing many different colours or shades of colour are produced.

The potter makes his by hand and handles it when finished. His hands will tell him if the pot is good or bad. The feel of a pot in the hand must be satisfying.

And the completed pot has many parts - a body, spout, handle , lid, knob...

These should be in balance. Their relation and structure must be clear and reasonable. The lid must fit, not jamm or rattle, and it must be deep seated and firm- not fall off easily and break. Spouts and handles are separately made and then connected to the body. This connection must be smooth and the transition between the body and the spout should be reasonable. Together they must handle well, the spout allowing the liquor to flow freely, and the handle providing a pleasant grip and balanced leverage and control.

Use and function have produced the pot and shape and colour provide the canvas. The engraving of this clay is the final touch. Fine decoration must compliment the subject. This decoration, often by the scholar artist or calligrapher and seal cutter, displays his accpmplishment in literature. And in such a pot, with its simple useful daily function, pouring a cup of tea, all the arts combine.

In recent years there has been an upsurge in admiration of purple clay. prices have jump from a few dollars to thousands for a single pot. And with this increase in value there has been also an increase in quality. More time and care goes into every pot, and many more are rejected and smashed when they come from the kiln. With the prices, standards have risen too.

To authenticate an ancient pot the expect has to know the politics and economy of that time. He must have knowledge of the techniques and raw materials in use, and the principal potters and potteries of the day. To identify a 'Mansheng Pot', he must know the seal and calligrahpy of Chen Mansheng and be familiar with the pottery teehnoiogy of the 19th century and with the knife engraving of the potter and the period. And to become an expert today is perhaps an even more formidable task-there are so many famous potters, and such a variety of the first rate artistic work.

An article shows the writer, calligrsphy shows the calligrapher, a painting shows its painter, and pottery shows the maker of the pot. But perhaps the pot is the most revealing. You can feel it in your hands h= just as the maker did. Some potters like a little spout, some a heavy handle. Some reproduce trunks and knotty branches. Others have exquisite engravings of ratans or leaves. Each artist has some form that he likes best, and every pot reflects of pottery there emerges and expected style, a signature or masterstroke, individual to each article yet common to every product from that hand. When you can read this signature you too will be an expert in this art.

Besides his style and characteristic features each potter marks with his own seal every product from his hand. This seal authenticates the work. The seal itself is chosen with great care. Every famous potter has his seal from a well known engraver. The characters of the seal are cut in stone with steel and the resulting inprint is said to 'smell' of stone and metal. And there is no finger substrate for the well carved seal than unfired clay. Pottery shown off best the character of the perfect seal.

A potter gives this advice to amateurs.

Exchange information with each other, and meet and talk to the potters themselves. Do not buy with undue haste. If you pay a high price be sure that your pot is not a counterfeit.

And remember that not every pot from even a famous potter is a good example of his work. We have a saying: "Three prototypes can not reach your ideal." This is jargon in the pottery business. It means that it is not possible to perfect an idea in the first throw. A fine pot must be made many times, and there may be many failures on the way.

And if famous potters some times have failures, the hands of unknown potters may produce a great sucess. If you like a pot, collect it.

"Beauty in purple clay is good for the mind. It will mould the sentiments, foster temperament, improve health."

In other words, to be happy and successful drink tea with puple clay.

How care and use your yixing teapot

Since only purple sand teapots contain thousands of air holes or micro-air pores, besides being able to keep the hot water hot for a longer time and brew teas better, these air holes can also self seasoning the teapot by absorbing the aroma from the tea. These characteristics can only be found in the purple sand, therefore,Yixing teapots are most used by the serious tea drinkers. Serious tea drinker like myself, I have been using one teapot for only one type of tea inorder not to mix-up with the tea aroma in that teapot. Normal tea drinkers may find using two or three Yixing teapots sufficient, one for green tea(but make sure to cool your water temperature), second one for Oolong tea and a third one for black tea. Brewing a cup of good tea has many factors besides using a good teapot, different tea requires different methods to brew,When purchased a new Yixing teapot, do not use it to brew tea right the way, it needs to be treated with preparation work inorder to have these air holes functioning properly in the purple sand .

One cultured way if you have time to do it:

place the teapot with the lid uncovered, carefully place the pieces onto a cook ware which should be large enough to hold the water and be able to cover the entire teapot.

Place some tea leaves(preferably the same kind of tea which you will use for your new teapot) in the water and bring to a slow boil, since rapid boiling may damage your teapot since the pieces may possibly be hitting each other or hitting the walls in your cook ware.

slow boil for about an hour, let your teapot cool down in the cook ware with tea water still covering the entire teapot, let it stand for a day or so,

the next day you can take the teapot out and rub off any purple sand residue inside of your teapot, rinse well with water only, place the teapot back into the cook ware and bring it to a slow boil again for around an hour or so. Let it cool down in your cook ware still covering with the tea water again,

the next day you may take out your teapot and rinse it well with hot water. After this process, the air holes in your teapot are opened up and is ready for use.

One simple way for the initial use:

Fill your teapot with newly boiled water and allow the water to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the water.

Fill the teapot a second time with newly boiled water and add one teaspoon of your favorite loose tealeaves. Allow this tea to sit for a period of 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the tea.

You are now ready to prepare your first pot of tea. Fill your teapot with freshly boiled water to heat up the pot. Drain the water. Put one teaspoon of tealeaves into your pot. Again, fill the teapot with freshly boiled water. Drain the water quickly to rinse the tealeaves. Fill the teapot a third time with boiling water, allow it to steep for at least 1 minute and enjoy your tea.

How cleaning your tea pot:

Since the clay has the unique characteristic of absorbing the flavor of your tea, washing with soap will take away from that unique quality.so never wash your Yixing teapots with any detergents or cleaning agents, just rinse with hot water after each use would be sufficient, pat dry with soft towels if preferred, leave the lid uncovered till it is fully dried. Tea stains may build up on your teapot after many used, don't worry about getting it off, collectors are always looking for tea stains as this is one of the characteristics required for a good old and antique teapot. Avoid having dust and grease get to the teapot. we have seen a good old teapot which have scaling tea stains, to a collector's point of view, this kind of Yixing teapots worth much more value and is rare to find.