Zisha


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Zisha

Postby gasninja » Dec 29th, '12, 01:54

I am curious if someone could give a detailed explanation of the difference between zisha and zini?
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Re: Zisha

Postby wyardley » Dec 29th, '12, 03:37

I may be about to shoot myself in the foot, but here's my take on it.

Zisha tends to be used as an umbrella term which, as I understand it, includes most or all of the subcategories of Yixing material, where as zini refers to some specific types. In other words, when we say 'zisha', we are including duanni, heini, hongtu, zhuni, qingshuini, etc., whereas when we say 'zini' we are referring to a more narrow subset. Within zini, there are also some subcategories, and some amount of variation in color.

In a more literal sense, 'shā' is roughly translated as 'sand', and 'ní' is roughly translated as 'mud' or 'clay (tǔ, as in earth, is also sometimes used in reference to raw materials, e.g., hong tu, hei xing tu, etc.). Maybe some Chinese speakers here can explain the difference better.
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Re: Zisha

Postby gasninja » Dec 29th, '12, 13:29

I am just curious as to finding the difference as I will here certain people talking about a what looks to be a zini pot that has more flecks of mineral in it as zisha? But other pots that look to be more of a solid color with no "sand" in them are just zini. I am curious about the clay difference . Is it processed differently or is it just a higher quality of clay?
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Re: Zisha

Postby ImmortaliTEA » Dec 29th, '12, 15:48

gasninja wrote:I am just curious as to finding the difference as I will here certain people talking about a what looks to be a zini pot that has more flecks of mineral in it as zisha? But other pots that look to be more of a solid color with no "sand" in them are just zini. I am curious about the clay difference . Is it processed differently or is it just a higher quality of clay?


I could be wrong but from everything I've gathered from multiple sources, Zi Sha seems to be easily explained in a few words. It's either Aged Zi Ni or Aged Di Cao Qing from what I gather. I believe it's the latter because back in the day they didn't use the name Di Cao Qing, they just used the term Zi Ni to describe it but that same "Zi Ni" in today's terminology I believe would be called Di Cao Qing. Please correct me if I'm wrong everyone!
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Re: Zisha

Postby bagua7 » Dec 29th, '12, 20:48

wyardley wrote:Zisha tends to be used as an umbrella term which, as I understand it, includes most or all of the subcategories of Yixing material, where as zini refers to some specific types.


+1

chrl42 provided a valid answer on the following thread:

http://teadrunk.org/topic/145/examples-of-clays/
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Re: Zisha

Postby ImmortaliTEA » Dec 30th, '12, 02:18

bagua7 wrote:
wyardley wrote:Zisha tends to be used as an umbrella term which, as I understand it, includes most or all of the subcategories of Yixing material, where as zini refers to some specific types.


+1

chrl42 provided a valid answer on the following thread:

http://teadrunk.org/topic/145/examples-of-clays/


I believe gasninja was asking about what the term "zisha" meant as it was being used here on teachat to refer to a specific type of clay and NOT just an "umbrella" term for a plethora of different clays. I have seen that thread on tea drunk before but I think you'll notice that some people here on teachat would think otherwise by the fact that they use the term Zi Sha to refer to a specific pot or clay. As far as I understand it that clay that is referred to as Zi Sha would be called Aged Di Cao Qing or Aged Zini if someone else who doesn't use the term Zi Sha (to refer to a specific clay) were to see it!
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Re: Zisha

Postby wyardley » Dec 30th, '12, 05:09

ImmortaliTEA wrote:but I think you'll notice that some people here on teachat would think otherwise by the fact that they use the term Zi Sha to refer to a specific pot or clay.

But it's not wrong to say zisha. In other words, all zini is zisha, but not all zisha is zini.
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Re: Zisha

Postby gasninja » Dec 30th, '12, 11:04

Tingjunky wrote
No worries, it's an easy misconception to have. I wish making real zisha was as easy as mixing sand into zini. Things would be easier for us tea lovers!

I guess it is statements like this that made me ask the question. I originally believed what as Will stated that all yixing was zisha.
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Re: Zisha

Postby tingjunkie » Dec 30th, '12, 14:59

"Tingjunky" with a capital T and a y? Who's that? :)

Due to language differences, and old traditional terms, locking down exact names for Yixing clays is nearly impossible. Add to that that many clays are blends, and an infinity of naming possibilities exist. Personally I feel calling all Yixing clay "zisha" is archaic and pretty daft. Zisha translates to purple sand, so why would red, yellow, black or green clays be included? Makes no sense.

The tea crew here in NYC at least also uses "zisha" to make a distinction between common non-sandy purple clays such as zini and qingshuini, and the high quality naturally sandy (not sand-mixed) purple clay which is much harder to find. I'm still learning to tell the difference myself, but I'll try to post some photos later after I get home from work.
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Re: Zisha

Postby wyardley » Dec 30th, '12, 17:43

tingjunkie wrote:Due to language differences, and old traditional terms, locking down exact names for Yixing clays is nearly impossible. Add to that that many clays are blends, and an infinity of naming possibilities exist. Personally I feel calling all Yixing clay "zisha" is archaic and pretty daft. Zisha translates to purple sand, so why would red, yellow, black or green clays be included? Makes no sense.

I think you're interpreting 'zisha' a little too literally, maybe. Also, I think the term refers to pre-firing color, which is often quite different from the color of the fired piece.

In general, you will often hear people use 'zisha hu' as an umbrella term, and many teapot books and companies have 'zisha' in their name, so I think it's a bit of a stretch to say it's either 'archaic' or 'daft'.

From one of my teapot books (in the English version of the article). Note the use of 'zisha' as both a general term and a more specific type:
The raw materials of zisha teapots are generally called zisha clay, and in fact, there are three basic clays for making zisha teapots: purple clay (zisha), light-brown clay (benshanlu), and red clay (zhusha), and they are different in quality and color in differnt[sic] digging areas. When the wares are fired, they will represent in different colors. This is why zisha clay also enjoys the reputation of "multicolored clay". After firing, teapots will take on a different color. Teapots of purple clay will show themselves in various shades of purplish brown; most of our exhibits are of this category. The ones of benshanlu will be in buff [....] The ones of red clay, also called zhuni teapots, will become vermeil[sic] [....]

All these three kinds of clays exist in jianni (a kind of hard rock) and nenni (a kind of soft mud). They were found in mined kaolin, so they are also called "top clay", and only around of Yixing clay is zisha clay. Teapots can be made of a single clay, or a mixture of several clays; for example, the duan clayed Pan teapot (cat. no. 866) is made of an intermmixture of two clays.

In addition, there was documented a clay called tuanshan clay (3), a type of purple clay, in bronze color after being fired, but had been exhausted by the late period of Qing dynasty. Then due to the elegant color and luster of this fine clay, the potters substituted an intermixture of purple clay and benshanlu for tuanshan clay, which is called duan clay, a man-made clay of top quality.

[From Appreciation of Zisha Teapots 《砂壶匯赏》ISBN 9628477782, p22]

And, from another book:
Compared with the potting clay other regions produce, purple clay [n.b. - 'zishani' is the term used in the Chinese version] possesses an unusually high iron content, usually in the 8-10% range, but reaching as much as 11-12% at times. Consequently, the color it reveals after firing can range from a reddish-brown to its eponymous purple, including hues that have been variously described as "dark kidney," "winter pear,"light ocre," and simply "iron." In fact, that which is generally referred to as "purple-earth clay" can actually be broken down into three categories, based on color and potting characteristics, termed purple, red, and green clays [n.b. - 'ni' is used here]. Of these, the purple clay group itself contains many varying sub-groups, which together constitute the principle[sic] pool of ingredients to purple-earthenware production.

[From 古壶之美 (Guhu Zhimei) "Chinese Yixing Teawares from the Collection of the Mai Foundation", ISBN 9579748292, p56]
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Re: Zisha

Postby TIM » Dec 30th, '12, 19:10

This is the first English Yixing book which I always fall back to when I am researching. Please take a look at Chapter 2 page 20:

http://books.google.com/books?id=3zAP3t ... &q&f=false
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Re: Zisha

Postby tingjunkie » Dec 30th, '12, 19:42

Obviously it's true that millions of people use "zisha" as an umbrella term, and that's not really in need of debate. I compare it to regions of the U.S. where every single soda is lumped under the term "Coke" even if it's Sprite or root beer. Or how tissues are called a Kleenex, even if they're made by Puffs, or Charmin. It's widely accepted and used, but it's still an archaic and inaccurate word in my book. I don't mean to belittle the Chinese language, but some of the direct English translations are just plain crap. For example, a turkey is a "fire chicken" ["huǒjī (火鸡)] and a dinosaur is a "fearsome dragon" [kǒnglóng (恐龙)].

As far as the term "zisha" referring to the color of the ore or pre-fired clay, I don't think that is correct. Here's a great thread over on TeaDrunk showing many ores and a post fired disk. http://teadrunk.org/topic/121/yixing-cl ... red-disks/ Lot's of non-purple colors to be seen (I think... I'm actually red-green colorblind, so maybe I'm wrong.)

Anyway, as promised, here are some links to what most of the NYC crew and I call "zisha" when it's referring to a specific type of clay. Fair warning, I made the links to LARGE photos so you can zoom in to see the up close texture. Notice the qualities which mark true zisha clay: 1) the different colored grains of sand, 2) the uniformed fine sandy (yet soft) texture, and 3) the buttery/oily glow. The debate about Yixing clay names, and where to draw the line between similar clays could go on forever. I'm only posting this because I seem to be one of the ones who confused gasninja, and I wanted to clarify what I mean when I say zisha. I'm not the end all be all of the Yixing world though. :wink:

Zisha
http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5092/5569 ... 05ce_o.jpg
http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4107/5171 ... 3d93_o.jpg
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7274/6973 ... 92ec_k.jpg
http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5260/5545 ... cf97_o.jpg
http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5135/5724 ... f7d9_o.jpg

Zi Ni mixed with Zisha
http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6176/6167 ... 1e52_o.jpg
http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2596/4494 ... 8fc4_o.jpg

Pin Zi Ni
http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6165/6167 ... 5bba_o.jpg

Tiao Sha
http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4122/4936 ... a6a7_o.jpg
http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1286/4677 ... 3897_o.jpg
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8007/6973 ... 25f8_o.jpg

Qing Shui Ni mixed with Zisha
http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4067/4465 ... 0aeb_o.jpg
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8478/8192 ... 5355_o.jpg
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Re: Zisha

Postby wyardley » Dec 31st, '12, 02:52

tingjunkie wrote:I don't mean to belittle the Chinese language, but some of the direct English translations are just plain crap. For example, a turkey is a "fire chicken" ["huǒjī (火鸡)] and a dinosaur is a "fearsome dragon" [kǒnglóng (恐龙)].

That's exactly my point about not taking the constituent parts of compound words too literally. It's an over-literal translation that's the problem, not the language itself. Of course, a turkey is not literally a "fire chicken", and a squirrel is not literally a "tree rat", but it's a lot more logical than the way things work in English. Also, characters can have multiple meanings, and 'sand' is just one possible meaning for "砂".

I will defer to native speakers on this one, but I think it shows a bit of hubris for you to decide that you understand Chinese etymology and usage better than native speakers. I don't think it's simply a matter of people being imprecise.

It's a nice idea about 'sha' referring to material with a sandier texture and obvious grains, and 'ni' referring to smoother, more 'clay' like material, but just because it seems logical to you doesn't make it so. I believe there are specific terms for adding larger granules to the clay to give it that type of appearance, as well as some names for the various types of textures that can result.

And to be clear, I'm not trying to say that all zisha is purple before firing, just that one of the article suggests that the word may refer to the pre-firing appearance of certain materials.
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Re: Zisha

Postby tingjunkie » Dec 31st, '12, 09:55

Hubris happens to be my middle name. ;)

Even though I tried to own all my above statements and make them personal to me (so as to not imply that I do things the default "right" way), I didn't invent these distinctions and definitions. I learned them from native Chinese speakers who know much more about Yixing pottery than I do. I'm not saying this makes my understanding of these terms automatically correct, but before you go accusing me of single-handedly trampling the Mandarin language, maybe you should slow your roll.
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Re: Zisha

Postby gasninja » Dec 31st, '12, 12:36

Tim thanks for the link to the book I clicked the link and spent the next two hours diving in to it. Before coming back and reading the rest of the posts .I can't wait to finish reading it.

TJ and Will thanks for the links and pics.
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