Interesting pots. Thanks!
What rank craftsman is 徐建青? Please state in Chinese. Feel free to explain (hopefully in English!
) what the various levels mean.
might be of interest to you.
It's the official inquiry system for professional titles in Yixing Zisha Arts and Crafts.
There are currently 2674 people listed who hold official titles. Nowadays (just since ~2006) titles are granted after passing exams which start with tests on relevant professional knowledge. Once passed, one is allowed to take the live skill assessment parts of the tests.
Various requirements like educational background and time passed since the last test taken have to be fulfilled to get one step higher on this ladder.
XuJianQing is (currently) 个体 工艺美术员which is a individual member of arts and crafts. If one is in employment for someone else instead of their own studio that would be listed too.
In the past, like in times when the big zisha factories had their prime people got titles almost automatically with their position and they started lower, technician or the like, so there where probably more than the current 5.
If one buys a teapot, especially for higher priced ones, this is a useful system to get some idea if the pot is actually Yixing.
To be honest though, there are some older people with amazing pottery skills who don't have any titles at all and might not even know a title and ranking system like the current one exists. The quality of your teapot does not get any better or worse with the title itself.
There is also no real correlation anymore between the title held and the quality of the clay used other than money. If an artist is able to achieve higher prices for their pots they can afford better clay.
But more on Yixing clay and it's availability in another post. (I might create a topic for that in Teaware and Accessories)
Other than the craftsman level rankings I find prizes won where a panel of accredited experts gives an assessment of the work like the recent 12th Expo of Art & Crafts Masterpieces in Shanghai (was 15th-18th. Oct) a better indicator for an artists skills, but even that, just like the titles, don't make any teapot better or worse.
The best way is always ones own eye and taste, although if bought for investment purposes rather than for personal use the certificates do of course help.
When I sometimes sit in uncles shop in the new Dingshan pottery market, now known as "China Ceramics City" I can often tell what purpose a buyer wants his or her pot for. Like one pot, "Long Zhu", is very popular with investors because one of these has been collected by the Wuxi museum, and people like the assurance that a curator too liked it enough to do so. Don't get me wrong, it is a really nice pot(i might show pictures of it here later), but sometimes people don't seem to trust their own liking.