Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?


Discussion on virtually any teaware related item.

Re: Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?

Postby TIM » May 3rd, '12, 11:54

chrl42 wrote:I don't like to argue but communicate. If I have a good antique, I'd rather wanna know its correct origins.


Hope you did not take my comments the wrong way old friend :wink:
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Re: Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?

Postby chrl42 » May 3rd, '12, 12:18

Tea is 水, it's about communication and balance. We are not talking about 金, what kind of wrong way are you talking about? :)
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Re: Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?

Postby wyardley » May 3rd, '12, 12:32

What little I've read on the subject suggests that it developed during the late Ming Dynasty, though it's hard to say exactly when.

Relevant bits are:
The congou [read gongfu] was first described in Yu Jiao's (1751-?) book Miscellanea of Chaoshan and Jiaxing in Qing Dynasty.
[…]
Accordingly, scholars think thought [sic] that "About in the Wanli Period (1573-1679) of the Ming Dynasty, the congou [read gongfu] ceremony of Chaoshan had its basic conditions to be formed and began to emerge. Step by step it was finalized at that period".(11)


The quote itself is from an article in Appreciation of Zisha Teapots 《砂壶匯赏》ISBN 9628477782. Footnote 11 is from the Chinese publication "Archeology of Agriculture", in special issue (6) on Chinese tea culture, from 1993 p 144 (I have copies of a couple of the "Archeology of Agriculture" articles, in Chinese only, if anyone has time to translate them).

The article does suggest that small teapots were around before the development of what we now think of as gongfu cha, and it also mentions that the Chaoshan area had a very strong tea drinking culture dating back to the Song Dynasty.

[adapted from an earlier post at http://teadrunk.org/post/1167/#p1167]
Last edited by wyardley on May 3rd, '12, 12:40, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?

Postby MarshalN » May 3rd, '12, 12:37

chrl42 wrote:
MarshalN wrote:茗壺圖錄 had a total of 32 pots in it, mostly from the author's friends' collections, so while it's the only work of its kind, I'd hardly say it's representative. If anything, if one collector and his friends can have a number of Ming pots by just polling his friends, then the total sum of items out there must be magnitudes more. Back then is not like now - you don't know who owns what by just looking at their blogs.

Tead Off - yes, we always argue over history and revise things, but then, we learn from the argument and the next theory being advanced will be, hopefully, an improvement on the last one.

Sounds like Japan is a place of jewels, it sure is my next destination to visit...


It's very easy to find genuine Republican period pots there. You just have to pay.
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Re: Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?

Postby chrl42 » May 3rd, '12, 13:01

wyardley wrote:What little I've read on the subject suggests that it developed during the late Ming Dynasty, though it's hard to say exactly when.

Relevant bits are:
The congou [read gongfu] was first described in Yu Jiao's (1751-?) book Miscellanea of Chaoshan and Jiaxing in Qing Dynasty.
[…]
Accordingly, scholars think thought [sic] that "About in the Wanli Period (1573-1679) of the Ming Dynasty, the congou [read gongfu] ceremony of Chaoshan had its basic conditions to be formed and began to emerge. Step by step it was finalized at that period".(11)


The quote itself is from an article in Appreciation of Zisha Teapots 《砂壶匯赏》ISBN 9628477782. Footnote 11 is from the Chinese publication "Archeology of Agriculture", in special issue (6) on Chinese tea culture, from 1993 p 144 (I have copies of a couple of the "Archeology of Agriculture" articles, in Chinese only, if anyone has time to translate them).

The article does suggest that small teapots were around before the development of what we now think of as gongfu cha, and it also mentions that the Chaoshan area had a very strong tea drinking culture dating back to the Song Dynasty.

[adapted from an earlier post at http://teadrunk.org/post/1167/#p1167]

I think Yu Jiao of Qianlong, and Weng Jun-dong of late-Qing's books are most frequently mentioned when talk about 'gongfu' ceremony. Former for its period of being early, latter for being in detail.

Yu Jiao mentioned Chaoshan (Chaozhou) people uses stout, small Zhunis etc..Weng Jun-dong preceeded to tell the brands of Zhuni makers, superiority of clays etc...
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Re: Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?

Postby Poohblah » May 3rd, '12, 13:05

This has become a truly fascinating thread.
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Re: Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?

Postby debunix » May 3rd, '12, 14:44

Poohblah wrote:This has become a truly fascinating thread.


Agreed. I was skipping it at the beginning, because I'm not yet prepared to be serious about yixings, but then I caught a few lines of a later post and have been following along with interest since. The evolution of teadrinking is quite interesting even to those of us who are not investing in the perfect clay.
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Re: Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?

Postby Poohblah » May 3rd, '12, 15:34

debunix wrote:
Poohblah wrote:This has become a truly fascinating thread.


Agreed. I was skipping it at the beginning, because I'm not yet prepared to be serious about yixings, but then I caught a few lines of a later post and have been following along with interest since. The evolution of teadrinking is quite interesting even to those of us who are not investing in the perfect clay.

And also because no books in English have this kind of information in them. The most definitive answer I could find to the question of the origin of gongfu and the use of yixing in gongfu was "not older than 17th or 18th century" in Joseph Needham's tome on Chinese culture.
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Re: Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?

Postby Tead Off » May 3rd, '12, 23:12

chrl42 wrote:
wyardley wrote:What little I've read on the subject suggests that it developed during the late Ming Dynasty, though it's hard to say exactly when.

Relevant bits are:
The congou [read gongfu] was first described in Yu Jiao's (1751-?) book Miscellanea of Chaoshan and Jiaxing in Qing Dynasty.
[…]
Accordingly, scholars think thought [sic] that "About in the Wanli Period (1573-1679) of the Ming Dynasty, the congou [read gongfu] ceremony of Chaoshan had its basic conditions to be formed and began to emerge. Step by step it was finalized at that period".(11)


The quote itself is from an article in Appreciation of Zisha Teapots 《砂壶匯赏》ISBN 9628477782. Footnote 11 is from the Chinese publication "Archeology of Agriculture", in special issue (6) on Chinese tea culture, from 1993 p 144 (I have copies of a couple of the "Archeology of Agriculture" articles, in Chinese only, if anyone has time to translate them).

The article does suggest that small teapots were around before the development of what we now think of as gongfu cha, and it also mentions that the Chaoshan area had a very strong tea drinking culture dating back to the Song Dynasty.

[adapted from an earlier post at http://teadrunk.org/post/1167/#p1167]

I think Yu Jiao of Qianlong, and Weng Jun-dong of late-Qing's books are most frequently mentioned when talk about 'gongfu' ceremony. Former for its period of being early, latter for being in detail.

Yu Jiao mentioned Chaoshan (Chaozhou) people uses stout, small Zhunis etc..Weng Jun-dong preceeded to tell the brands of Zhuni makers, superiority of clays etc...

And, what of the Chao Zhou potters who were right at the heart of gongfu style and also making teapots of their own zhuni?
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Re: Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?

Postby chrl42 » May 4th, '12, 00:33

Tead Off wrote:And, what of the Chao Zhou potters who were right at the heart of gongfu style and also making teapots of their own zhuni?

It was not Chaozhou Zhuni, but Yixing. Earlier than Yu Jiao, there was Yuan Mei(18c.)'s script mentioning a glipse of Gongfu. When he visited Wuyi mt. he saw a monk using "cup little as a walnut, pot little as a lemon....they brewed in multiple times", he didn't like Wuyi tea before due to its bitterness but after meeting that monk, he became fascinated etc.

Now famous Yu Jiao's 壶出宜兴窑者最佳,圆体扁腹,努咀曲柄...etc "pot from Yixing is best, round and stout, handle and spout warped.."

Weng Hui-dong (1885~1963)- 俗名冲罐,以江苏宜兴朱砂泥制者为佳,潮人所最珍贵者,为孟臣,铁画轩,秋圃,萼圃,小山,袁熙生等。"so-called brewing vessel, Yixing Zhuni from Jiangsu province is good, Chaozhou people adore it very much, Mengchen, Tiehuaxuan, Qiu Pu, E Pu, Xiaoshan, Yuanxisheng etc.."

Almost half of all antique Zhunis have Mengchen seal or carving, Tiehuaxuan is ROC's studio, Qiu Pu/E Pu seals are both found on Yixing Zhuni and Chaozhou Shantou Zhuni, during those times, commucation between Yixing potter and Chaozhou potter was often. Xiaoshan no idea, Yuanxisheng is Zhuni maker..(his put a seal on lower side of handle)

I haven't gone to know how Chaozhou-style making Zhuni custom started, but traditional Gongfu scripts (above 3 are just most mentioned, many other exist), relatively give credits to Yixing Zhuni, Wuyi Yancha and Jingdezhen porcelain cup called 'Rou Shen'...
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Re: Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?

Postby wyardley » May 4th, '12, 01:42

chrl42 wrote:I haven't gone to know how Chaozhou-style making Zhuni custom started, but traditional Gongfu scripts (above 3 are just most mentioned, many other exist), relatively give credits to Yixing Zhuni, Wuyi Yancha and Jingdezhen porcelain cup called 'Rou Shen'...

I don't know when Chaozhou pots started being made -- I always understood it that Yixing pots were preferred, and that Chaozhou pots were made because Yixing pots were not available / affordable to everyone who wanted them in that area.

In any event, just because some texts say that Meng Chen pots, Ruoshen / Ruochen cups, and Wuyi yancha should be used doesn't mean that local people didn't use other items -- obviously, not everyone could afford to buy the most rare and expensive tea and teaware.

A few other quotes from an article in the book mentioned above (quoted from the English translation included in the book):
[from the abstract]Of the ninety purple clay teapots described in the book, about twenty of them were used as congou [read gongfu] teapots in the southeast coastal areas of China during the Qing dynasty (1616-1911). Those small teapots, some made in Yixing, some in Chaoshan with the handmade flans(sic), were popular in the southern areas of Min (Fujian Province) and Chaoshan of Yue (Guangdong Province). The teapots made in the two different areas are easy to distinguish because the materials, the decorations and the molding methods were different, although they are similar in the appearances(sp).
[...]
[in section 1]
Zho Kai said that it is customary to drink tea with delicate sets: the teapot must be Mengchen and the cup must be Ruochen" [also Ruoshen; see here].(5)
[...]
5.4 The Fourth Rank --- Chaoshan Clay Teapots [ranked below authentic pots by famous makers, "Older and Finer Teapots", and "Teapots Made in Yixing"
[...] This deep-rooted adoration of Yixing clay teapots compelled those who were no(sp) rich to buy locally made Chaoshan clay teapots,(54) which were at the lowest rank of the pyramid, as substitutions. Generally speaking, these substitutions were manufactured in Fengxi(55) and other areas of Guangdong province by imitating the patterns of Yixing teapots. Jin Wuxiang of late Qing Dynasty said "People in Chaoshan favored small teapots in tea-drinking. Therefore, faked Mengchen and Yigong teapots could be found everywhere"(56) in his Anecdotes of Haizhu. Restricted by local clay materials and molding method, Chaoshan clay teapots were different from Yixing ones which were produced by "the patting molding method"(57) [i.e., slab construction]. Chaoshan teapots with red clay bases were fabricated by "the pulling base molding method" [i.e., wheel throwing] and then were decorated by painting glaze [slip / makeup clay??] on surface(sic) in order to make teapots red.(figure5) Even the Chaoshan clay teapots had different ranks. [...]Chaoshan Tea Ceremony -- the Congou said that "Most of the tea sets used by natives of Chaoshan were almost the same. Rich families had exquisite ones; common families coarse ones". Of course, most of the signatures of those Chaoshan clay teapots were Mengchen (cat. no 27), Yigong, Dabin, and so on who were celebrated manufacturers of Yixing teapots. This was only a phenomenon of "Name-Brand Projection".(58)

Nowadays, native people of Chaoshan called(sp) Yixing teapots as "shaguan" (clay teapots), and locally made Chaoshan teapots as "Tuguan" (Native teapots) or :"Shuaguan" (descriptions of the characteristics of the glaze). Shaguan was famous exotic product which was difficult to get, and Tuguan was locally-produced. Shaguan and Tuguan had different clay materials and producing crafts in addition to their different producing(sp) areas, so the differences in price between teapots were remarkable.

6. Conclusions
[...]
Liang Shuyi, who worked in the Historical Relic Hall of The Chinese University of Hong Kong also held the opinion that "Mengchen teapot was another name for all clay teapots".


So, I think what we can take from that is:
1) When we read things like "the pot must be Mengchen", it's not totally clear whether that means it must be a Yixing pot, or just any small stoneware teapot of a certain style.
2) Chaozhou pots were produced locally during some part of the Qing dynasty if not before.

Whatever one's feelings about the relative merits of different types of clay for brewing tea in modern day, everything I've heard or read indicates that Yixing pots were strongly preferred for gongfu cha during the late Ming / Qing dynasties.
Last edited by wyardley on May 4th, '12, 01:50, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?

Postby MarshalN » May 4th, '12, 01:45

Poohblah wrote:
debunix wrote:
Poohblah wrote:This has become a truly fascinating thread.


Agreed. I was skipping it at the beginning, because I'm not yet prepared to be serious about yixings, but then I caught a few lines of a later post and have been following along with interest since. The evolution of teadrinking is quite interesting even to those of us who are not investing in the perfect clay.

And also because no books in English have this kind of information in them. The most definitive answer I could find to the question of the origin of gongfu and the use of yixing in gongfu was "not older than 17th or 18th century" in Joseph Needham's tome on Chinese culture.


I've written a short paper on the recent adoption of gongfucha as the de-facto tea drinking style in China. It'll be published online soon if the editor is done with it.
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Re: Yixing dedication criteria - what clay/shape for what tea?

Postby Poohblah » May 4th, '12, 03:16

chrl42 wrote:
Tead Off wrote:And, what of the Chao Zhou potters who were right at the heart of gongfu style and also making teapots of their own zhuni?

It was not Chaozhou Zhuni, but Yixing. Earlier than Yu Jiao, there was Yuan Mei(18c.)'s script mentioning a glipse of Gongfu. When he visited Wuyi mt. he saw a monk using "cup little as a walnut, pot little as a lemon....they brewed in multiple times", he didn't like Wuyi tea before due to its bitterness but after meeting that monk, he became fascinated etc.

Huh. funny. the book next to me was open to that story (in translation of course) when I read this post. Though my copy says the pot was small as an orange, not a lemon, but that's far from important.
MarshalN wrote:I've written a short paper on the recent adoption of gongfucha as the de-facto tea drinking style in China. It'll be published online soon if the editor is done with it.
That's excellent! I'd love to read it!
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