Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware


Discussion on virtually any teaware related item.

Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby Ludwig-1954 » Nov 8th, '11, 15:06

Good evening my friends

Perhaps you can help me with some questions that I have been trying to
research for some time now.

When was the first documented use of what we would call a gaiwan today to prepare tea?

When was the three part Gaiwan (matching lid, cup and saucer introduced)? I propose the question because I have seen significantly more antique gaiwans lacking a saucer than gaiwans lacking a lid. This led
me to presume, that perhaps earlier Gaiwans were not produced with
matching saucers.

Early gaiwans seem to be larger and simpler in shape than more modern ones. When and where was the outward curled rim so typical for new gaiwans first introduced?

When was the use of gaiwans as gong-fu cha brewing instruments introduced? I seem to recall that gaiwans were mainly (exclusively?) used for "grandpa style" tea consumption or just as lidded teacups in the 80's and early 90's (comparable to the use of lidded mugs at meetings and conferences in China today).

Thank you for any information you can spare. Perhaps some of you have
the possibility to ask older generation chinese people on the issues.

best regards
Patrick B. Ludwig
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby TIM » Nov 8th, '11, 16:02

These might help Patrick:

http://theteagallery.blogspot.com/2008/ ... iwans.html
http://theteagallery.blogspot.com/2008/ ... aware.html

Image Ming Dynasty style gaiwans and glazed yixing in Joseon Period Korea.
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby tingjunkie » Nov 8th, '11, 21:52

brandon wrote:
New antique arrived yesterday, saved from my great grandmother's collection.

Awesome B! Nothing like raiding family basements for tea cabinets. Worked for me! :wink:
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby tingjunkie » Nov 8th, '11, 21:53

TIM wrote:
A new personal favorite piece. A rare 19th century, Yixing Zisha ware with robin's egg blue glaze waste water vessel.


WOW. Love it.
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby tst » Nov 9th, '11, 14:13

Question regarding gaiwans.

Gaiwans seem to have distinctive characteristics (i.e. the lid sitting inside the rim of the cup, the handle/knob on the top of the lid, etc.).

Do any other teawares have these similar characteristics that are not actually gaiwans? For example, I've come across pieces listed as "Imari rice bowl with lid" and other similar names that seem to have many of the aforementioned characteristics (and look similar to gaiwans).

What characteristics differentiate a gaiwan from one of these bowls? What makes a gaiwan a gaiwan?

As always, thanks.
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby wyardley » Nov 9th, '11, 14:40

tst wrote:For example, I've come across pieces listed as "Imari rice bowl with lid" and other similar names that seem to have many of the aforementioned characteristics (and look similar to gaiwans).

A gaiwan literally is a "lidded bowl", so in fact, the things you're mentioning are gaiwans.
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby tst » Nov 9th, '11, 15:08

wyardley wrote:
tst wrote:For example, I've come across pieces listed as "Imari rice bowl with lid" and other similar names that seem to have many of the aforementioned characteristics (and look similar to gaiwans).

A gaiwan literally is a "lidded bowl", so in fact, the things you're mentioning are gaiwans.


Dah, I just read that the other day (and apparently forgot almost immediately :mrgreen: ).

I guess I'm trying to move past the distinction between lidded-vessels designed specifically for tea and those that fit the description/definition, but not the intended purpose.

I suppose it doesn't matter. Just me being my finicky-self!

Thanks wy.
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby wyardley » Nov 9th, '11, 15:12

Originally, I don't think there was a difference. The difference is that now that the design for gaiwans used for brewing tea has evolved. But really old gaiwans used for tea will have that thick clay, rounded shape and domed lid.
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby night.owl » Nov 14th, '11, 10:59

brandon wrote:Image

New antique arrived yesterday, saved from my great grandmother's collection.

When I was very young she lived next door to me and we would sit on the porch for a swing every day. Since she passed away over 20 years ago, my grandmother has been storing her furniture in the basement. It was at serious risk of water damage, and has now been relocated to a safe place.

My tea room :mrgreen:

Top drawer: Gaiwans
Bottom drawer: TEA

I am searching for the perfect fukuro obi to use as a runner.


That looks absolutely amazing! And you're right, the perfect fukoro obi would look splendid as a runner on top. In fact, you just gave me a great idea for my own not-yet-so-decorative tea-ware display area... :wink:
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby night.owl » Nov 14th, '11, 11:02

TIM wrote:Image

A new personal favorite piece. A rare 19th century, Yixing Zisha ware with robin's egg blue glaze waste water vessel.


I can see why it's a favorite! I have extra space over here, if you ever decide it needs a new home ;)
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby night.owl » Nov 14th, '11, 11:08

My latest treasure, a Banko teapot in perfect condition. I've only had it two days, but every cup of tea out of it so far has been amazing. I think this piece just catapulted itself into my latest favorite position! I'm so afraid I'm going to break it, though. It is so incredibly delicate... (see following pics)
Last edited by night.owl on Nov 14th, '11, 12:07, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby night.owl » Nov 14th, '11, 12:07

Banko Tea Pot, circa 1920's (11) SMALL.jpg
Banko Tea Pot, circa 1920's (11) SMALL.jpg (80.03 KiB) Viewed 466 times


Banko Tea Pot, circa 1920's (12) SMALL.jpg
Banko Tea Pot, circa 1920's (12) SMALL.jpg (88.05 KiB) Viewed 466 times


Banko Tea Pot, circa 1920's (13) SMALL.jpg
Banko Tea Pot, circa 1920's (13) SMALL.jpg (77.63 KiB) Viewed 466 times
Last edited by night.owl on Nov 14th, '11, 12:11, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby night.owl » Nov 14th, '11, 12:10

A few more... :mrgreen:

Banko Tea Pot, circa 1920's (14) SMALL.jpg
Banko Tea Pot, circa 1920's (14) SMALL.jpg (79.77 KiB) Viewed 467 times


Banko Tea Pot, circa 1920's (1) SMALL.jpg
Banko Tea Pot, circa 1920's (1) SMALL.jpg (46.66 KiB) Viewed 467 times
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby night.owl » Nov 14th, '11, 12:14

It seems kind of neat to have the maker's fingerprint ridges impressed all over it for all of eternity (or until I break it, whichever comes first). Hopefully, they will be there well until it falls into the next owner's hands... :wink:
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Re: Antique/Vintage Tea and Tea Ware

Postby IPT » Nov 14th, '11, 21:11

Ludwig-1954 wrote:When was the first documented use of what we would call a gaiwan today to prepare tea?

When was the three part Gaiwan (matching lid, cup and saucer introduced)? I propose the question because I have seen significantly more antique gaiwans lacking a saucer than gaiwans lacking a lid. This led
me to presume, that perhaps earlier Gaiwans were not produced with
matching saucers.

Early gaiwans seem to be larger and simpler in shape than more modern ones. When and where was the outward curled rim so typical for new gaiwans first introduced?

When was the use of gaiwans as gong-fu cha brewing instruments introduced? I seem to recall that gaiwans were mainly (exclusively?) used for "grandpa style" tea consumption or just as lidded teacups in the 80's and early 90's (comparable to the use of lidded mugs at meetings and conferences in China today).

Thank you for any information you can spare. Perhaps some of you have
the possibility to ask older generation chinese people on the issues.


Hello Patrick. I will try to answer these to the best of my ability. I have been asking the same questions for years, so I have a few answers.

From what I have been able to find, the gaiwan, as we know it today was first used in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

As for the three-part gaiwans, I am not really sure. I know in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the daughter of an official, Cui Ning, did not like teacups because they burned her hands, so she came up with a wooden saucer, very much like the ones still used in the Japanese tea ceremony for important people. That is the earliest known example of a tea saucer in China. As for the porcelain gaiwans, I am not sure. I have heard that during the Ming and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties, they did not come with saucers, but people would buy them seperately, made of pewter. Some of the older gaiwans I have, have really deep feet, so that might be too keep burning the hands when using without a saucer, but I do not know. I have asked a lot of people and heard a lot of stories, but have not received a difinitive answer to this. I wish I knew!

It was in the 90's when gaiwans started to become small and used as teapots, something I do not like, but that is another issue. :lol:

This is all the information I know. If anybody has anything to add, I would really love to know myself.
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