Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots


Discussion on virtually any teaware related item.

Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby ChinesePottery » Aug 26th, '11, 20:34

In search of truth wrote:The link to the Yixing Potters list failed to open for me.


the link changes once in a while. I try to keep a link to it updated in my blog and wrote recently about the change here: http://teaandpottery.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/yixing-contemporary-artist-verification/
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby Herb_Master » Aug 26th, '11, 21:13

ChinesePottery wrote:
In search of truth wrote:The link to the Yixing Potters list failed to open for me.


the link changes once in a while. I try to keep a link to it updated in my blog and wrote recently about the change here: http://teaandpottery.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/yixing-contemporary-artist-verification/


Unfortunately, as far as I can work out - the chinese characters are entered as a picture and not as text, so automatic Chinese to English translation does not work :cry:
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby ChinesePottery » Aug 26th, '11, 21:56

Herb_Master wrote:Unfortunately, as far as I can work out - the chinese characters are entered as a picture and not as text, so automatic Chinese to English translation does not work :cry:


a partial translation via google translate does more or less work. At least the dropdown menus and some other text are translated, but that is of little use as someone who wanted to use the site needs to be able to type the artists name in chinese anyways.

One can of course still just copy&paste the artists name in the box if it's possible to get it digital in the first place. Deciphering stamps from a pot is often not an easy task even for chinese speakers my wife says.
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby bagua7 » Aug 26th, '11, 23:04

In search of truth wrote:The link to the Yixing Potters list failed to open for me.


I have sent an e-mail to yeyoungtea letting them know about it.

In the meantime, here's another source of work promoting and selling some of the work produced by several Yixing Assistant Master craftsmen and Master craftstmen potters:

http://www.deeho.com/products_teapot.html

And another link to some more Yixing Master potters:

http://www.zisha.cn/
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby Wh&yel-appr... » Sep 1st, '11, 17:51

bagua7 wrote:Updating this thread with a great introductory article to Present ... The Sinologist Victor H. Mair writes in his recent book the True History of Tea:

The new trend of infusing loose-leaf tea also gave rise to the utensil that has come to embody the human cult of the Camillia sinensis plant—the teapot. Ever since the Ming, the most famous Chinese teapots have been made with a porous clay known as zisha, purple sand, found in Yixing just west of Lake Tai. Yixing teapots are prized for their ability to retain heat, store the aroma from every infusion, and maintain the freshness of the tealeaves during lengthy tea parties. Lovingly nursed by connoisseurs, they grow lustrous and beautiful with age. (Mair, 111)

According to the recent archaeological findings, the Zisha clay was not discovered until the Ming Jiajing Period (1522-1566 CE). It seemed to happen all of a sudden—from its birth to its maturity—the early evidence of Zisha teapots already achieved the highest technical and artistic levels. Unlike the ceramic creation, which was based on mass production with a great variety and many locations of kilns, the Zisha clay production was an individualistic and artistic execution from the beginning with a limited variety and only one location of kilns. There is diminutive evidence to indicate a clear link from the early artisans such as Gong Chun or Shi Dabin (active in the mid-late 16th century) to a previous groundwork, or the technical and artistic progressions of the Zisha production since its early appearance. What it has left for us to study is only the climactic periods of Zisha production in the 1600s, 1800s, 1930s, 1980s, and the present day.

. Zisha clay is one kind of rare clay among the Yixing clay mines. The term Zisha, also known as Yixing Zisha, is used as an umbrella term to describe the Zisha clay or the “purple sand,” which consists of iron oxide, silt, mica, kaolinite, varied quantities of quartz and iron ore as its main mineral constituents. The inimitable dual-porous structure and mineral composition of Zisha clay gives superior ability to retain heat, reduce oxidization, and enhance and store the aroma from tea infusion. In comparison with the ability of heat conducting of common ceramic, Zisha clay's ability of retaining heat can mitigate water temperature fluctuations so that Zisha teapot can dissuade tea aroma and flavor from diminishing. Zisha is such distinctive clay also in the sense of having been only found one place on earth—the Dingshu town of Yixing City 120 miles northwest of Shanghai, and it hardly has ever been exported out of China.

Zisha generally includes three distinctive types of clays. Zini, or “purple clay,” is dark and fine brownish-purple clay, zhuni, or “cinnabar clay,” is orange-reddish high iron content clay. Duanni, or “fortified clay,” is formulated in various quartz and minerals in addition to zini or zhuni, and it appears in various textures and colors, including beige, blue, green and black. Due to the increasing demand for Zisha teapots over time, zhuni is now nearly non-existent in quantities. Zhuni is not to be confused with Hongni, or the “red clay,” another reddish clay.

Besides the exceptional structure and mineral composition of Zisha clay, the most unique characteristic about the Zisha teapot is the traditional coiling technique of “forging the body” that is used to make a Zisha teapot. Unlike the common “earth clay” which comes in the form of “mud,” the raw Zisha clay comes in the form of rock, and it only appears to be like “mud” after many steps of preparing and refining. For this very reason the true Zisha clay cannot be turned on a pottery wheel. The true Zisha clay can only be manipulated in the following two ways: casting and molding, half-hand building and hand building.

It is easy to tell a Zisha teapot was cast or molded with mechanical equipment; the difference is the cast Zisha teapot is finer in its texture and has a thinner wall than the molded pots. One teapot maker can produce 300-500 pots a day. so that these Zisha teapots cannot encourage tea aroma and flavor from diminishing.

Hand-build teapots are made by the traditional coiling technique of “forging the body,” which was invented by Shi Dabin from the Ming dynasty according to the Zisha history. After raw Zisha clay was being prepared into curbed “mud,” the artist begins to beat and forge the “Zisha mud” with a wooden bat. ... Learning how to build a simple Zisha teapot is equivalent to becoming a sculptor of realism in the art college.

Today, the hand-built Zisha teapot technique is still taught in the traditional way. Master and disciple sit side by side, everything is taught by something called “oral and physical transmission.” It takes 4-8 hours a day and minimum three years to master the basic coiling technique of “forging the body” in order to make a decent teapot, and it takes about ten years to make a masterpiece Zisha teapot. The disciple not only learns how to make a good teapot but also learns how to be a good human being and live a good life from his master. Like a course of metamorphosis, ideally, the master wishes to transform his art and his life, in sum, his soul into his disciple.

The practice of Zisha Art has remained as one of the last traditional cultural and habitual activities that require deep and lasting connection within the artists and the others as the essential part of the art and practice. ...This social and cultural condition has become a severe concern in the practice and development of the Zisha Art today.

the official and professional representative of the Zisha industry, the State Council of China has certified 11 State Grandmasters of Chinese Arts & Crafts, 14 Provincial Grandmaster of Arts & Crafts, 105 Advanced Masters of Arts & Crafts, 223 Masters of Arts & Crafts, 760 Assistant Masters of Arts & Crafts, and 1081 Associates of Arts & Crafts by the end of 2009.

The Zisha Art market has dramatically changed since the 1980s, and the price of a Zisha teapot can range from several US dollars to several million US dollars today.
1. Always remember that making forgeries has been a part of Chinese art history, the ability to tell the forgery from the original is a part of the game for the forger and the collector to play.
2. The Zisha resource has been reduced rapidly due to increasing Zisha ware demands at the Chinese market. Today, one Chinese pound (0.5 kilogram) of high quality raw Zisha clay is priced at 20,000 Yuan (about US $ 3,000).
3. The average Chinese's income has increased dramatically in recent years. Chinese are known as fanatic collectors, between a car and a fine Zisha teapot, the local collector may choose the later. Thus, it is highly unlikely that the Yixing teapots made of authentic Zisha will export to the US market at a low price (let's say $50 per pot at retailer price),
Conclusion: you should not expect to buy a utilitarian teapot made of true Zisha clay for less than a few hundred dollars regardless of how the pot looks or what the dealer tells you, less should you expect to buy a basic Zisha teapot made by Grandmaster for less than $10,000 from the local dealers today.///His “Pine and Cloud,” Zisha teapot sold for $85,000 at the Beijing Rongbao auction in November 2010.



References

1. K. S. Lo, 1986. The Stone Wares of Yixing, from the Ming Period to the Present Day.
2. Victor H. Mair, 2009. The True History of Tea.[/i]"

Source: http://www.yeyoungtea.com/zisha-teapot.php


Don't know when Chip's team of experts will finish their tome...just have to wait & wait :(

But the quoted 'article' above/and or references seem to attempt to gloriously romanticize Yixing teapot making.

Are any of these 'facts' verifiable?

Does anyone know what the distinction between golden zhuni clay teapots and 'standard' zhuni clay is?

A quick search of online retailers shows it's a simple matter to obtain, supposedly hand-made, zhuni teapots for well under $100, and many other's for $100-to say-$300 price range. Not grand masters, maybe no 'assistant' master, or even 'associate' level but you can find well made, by experienced makers for <$100.

http://www.yunnansourcing.com/store/pro ... oduct=1548

^^$66 'Golden Zhu Ni' teapot, handmade, artist Wang Jian Ying
Wang Jianying is a nationally certified practitioner of fine arts and a member of Yixing pottery association. A fourth generation descendant of the famed Fan Dasheng, she is a Fan Family Teapot Company master craftsworker. She has been fascinated with the craft of zisha since childhood. In 1986, she began working with zisha pottery under the tutelage of her mother Fan Yuehong, quickly developing a substantial skillset. In recent years she has benefited from the careful guidance of the current head of the Fan Family Teapot Company, Fan Weiqun, and her pottery making skills have become increasingly mature. Her products have received numerous awards and have appeared in Chinese and international books and other publications. They are widely sought out by collectors.


Yixing, is almost like a collectors 'con', they 'have' to be handmade, can't be wheel thrown/spun...because of what again? What is so special again about the clay as opposed to very similar clay used in the Chao Zhou teapots???

Don't take Imen's words as definitive, her higher priced teapots, are actually thicker than the lower priced 'artisian' pots. I was sitting with an experienced green tea (Japanese) drinker when we were trying both kinds of pots, as brewed by Imen, several types of teas + w/gaiwan. Consensus was not easy as to which was best, but the thicker pot seemed to bring out more aroma, perhaps slightly smoother/thicker mouthfeel. Yet likely because of that thickness, extracts more caffeine, hence faster bitterness..especially as the tea cooled in my tiny tasting cup. I wasn't sold on a preference for any of the 3 diff vessels as being superior.

http://www.teahabitat.com/store/index.p ... e=clayPots

They are hand thrown on wheels with fine grains of red clay imitating YiXing style. Walls are made very thin. The locals also call it Zhuni although not the same clay as Yixing Zhuni. 2 most famous makers are the Wu's and Zhang's families, generations of pot makers followed traditional techniques, also innovated new styles and techniques. After more than 100 years of making Chao Zhou clay pots, the outstanding current generation makers are now hired by YiXing factories as consultants.


Why use a Chao Zhou clay pot?
For Dan Cong teas, Chao Zhou is preferred over Yixing, because it's made to enhance Dan Cong for number of reasons:

1. clay has the same composition of minerals as the tea trees are grown
2. the wall is thin so it doesn't simmer the leaves
3. shape is also made to accommodate the leaf shape of dan cong
4. spout is medium to big that is easy to control pouring speed since dan cong is extremely sensitive to timing and temperature.


Imen seems to contradict herself here (though this was written before she even learned on her late 2009 trip to China, that she didn't really even know how to brew tea, the new way she learned from her teamaster on that trip :D)...perhaps other can share in their misery when having difficulty brewing DC, knowing Imen once said how "extremely sensitive" DC is to timing and temp<<< yeah, that's my excuse...I'm just not fanatical enough to pay attention to those finer details, caveman I am :p.

http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/2009/ ... aking.html

Raw clay from mine
Image

Soaking of ground raw clay for 2 years

Drained clay and put away for 10 years of curing before using


Karen said...

For what kinds of teas are the sandy brown pots good and why are they so much larger than any of the red ones?
6:29 PM

Imen said...

Karen,

It's good for Phoenix Dan Cong oolong in particular, it's also good for Wuyi oolong, dark roast TGY and pu-erh.

What you see in the picture is prior to firing, 20%+ shrinkage after firing. The pot in picture will be 120ml which is rather small compared to Yingxing clay pots.

The brown pots shrink less than the red. It's made to simulate Yixing both in color and size.
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby bagua7 » Sep 7th, '11, 02:38

wh&yel-apprentice wrote:Does anyone know what the distinction between golden zhuni clay teapots and 'standard' zhuni clay is?


Let me quote for you another good article I found at 'Yixing Teapot Shop':

Zhu ni clay was first produced in Zhao Zhuang (a village in south Dingshu town of Yixing city). Historically, it is called “Shi huang ni clay”.

The ore mine is located in the bottom of other Yixing clay, with high iron oxide, hard like stone.

The shape of zhu ni clay ores is trival, need to collect by human. It’s hard to make pots only by pure zhu ni clay, used to be Yixing teapot’s decorate clay.

In history, zhu ni teapot is made by 80% xi shan (shan means “hill/mountain” in Chinese) delicate clay (also located in Zhao Zhuang), and 20% Dong Shan jia ni clay, using sand filtration by water (old clay making method). Because of Zhu ni is not so much fire-resistant, so Dong shan jia ni is added to, this kind of clay don’t change zhu ni clay’s colour, but improve the fire-resistant of zhu ni clay. The real zhu ni clay is in the core of Xi Shan delicate clay, break it will get the pure zhu ni clay.

Zhu ni ore mine is not only find in Zhao Zhuang, it also located in: Huang long shan, Qing long shan, Xiang ya shan, Lan shan, Xiao me yao, Wu shan lao yan kou, xiang shan, etc.

There is a mistake about zhu ni clay, many people believe “wrinkle” style zhu ni teapot is the best, that’s not true, in fact zhu ni teapot also can be smooth, rough, drape or fine. “Wrinkle” or “drape” style seems special compared to other Yixing clay teapot surface. but we can’t evaluate the quality of zhu ni just by the surface.

Zhu ni also has many colours, no all zhu ni clay teapot are red, in fact it has red, purple, black, yellow and green, so many colours, just like flowers.

The difference of zhu ni clay influenced by: lode position, stale time, blend method and ratio, making method, firing temperature.

Has so many different characters, so zhu ni is indeed some Yixing teapot collector’s favorite.


http://zishayixing.com/blog/yixing-clay/zhu-ni-clay


More info:

"Yixing clay (also called: purple clay, zisha clay) is a type of clay from the region near the city of Yixing in Jiangsu province, China. Its use dates back to the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279) when sandy clay was first mined around Lake Taihu in China. From the 17th century on, the ware was commonly exported to Europe.

Image

Mined for hundreds of years Huanglong Mountain mine

Image

Yixing zisha purple clay ore

Image

Yixing zisha ben lvni clay

Image

Yixing zisha red clay ore

The finished stoneware, which is used for teaware and other small items, are usually red or brown in colour. They are known as Purple Sand ware, and are typically unglazed. The sandy clays used for the Yixing-wares are very cohesive and can be formed by slip molding, coil forming, or most commonly, slab forming. The clays can also be formed by throwing. The most famous wares made for Yixing clay are Yixing clay teapots (Yixing Purple Sand Pot).

Image

The term "Yixing clay", and also "sandy clay, purple clay, Yixing clay", is often used as an umbrella term to describe three distinct types of stoneware:

-Purple sandy clay or purple clay (zisha or purple clay): dark brownish stoneware that gives its name to the type of stoneware usually related to yixing.

-Red sandy clay (Zhu ni clay or cinnabar clay): reddish brown stoneware that is made from sandy clay with a very high iron content. The name only refers to the sometimes bright red hue of cinnabar (Zhu ni clay). There are currently 10 mines still producing zhuni. However, due to the increasing demand for Yixing stoneware, zhuni is now in very limited quantities. Red sandy clay is not to be confused with hongni (Hong ni clay), another red clay.


Source: http://zishayixing.com/pages/book/06091 ... y-overview

Also, a table outlining Yixing's clay normal firing temperature and shrinkage ratio:

Image

Source: http://zishayixing.com/blog/yixing-clay ... kage-ratio
Last edited by bagua7 on Sep 20th, '11, 17:22, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby Chip » Sep 7th, '11, 08:46

Hm, this might be going too far in the copy and paste realm unless posted with permission from the source?

Posting an excerpt along with a link is more respectful if you do not have permission. :idea:
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby bagua7 » Sep 8th, '11, 02:38

Hi Chip,

Yes, I received permission from the owner via e-mail.

Regards,

Gerard.
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby bagua7 » Sep 14th, '11, 06:30

More good info zisha types and their ores:

Image

Sorry but I can't read Chinese; it would be nice if anyone could translate this page for future reference.

This will help consumers distinguish the real from the fake claims by some vendors of attaching pics of a certain ore followed by a teapot with identical colour.

Pic taken from this book:

Image
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby bagua7 » Sep 20th, '11, 17:19

How to identify an authentic yixing teapot

First, look at color. For a new yixing teapot, although a real zisha clay (purple clay) teapots have many color, it is not bright, but a dim light. If the color is too bright and glare, it is likely not made by authentic yixing raw ore. For some zisha teapot which already used a while, there should be mild light, but the same will not be dazzling color. If your zisha teapot used a long time but the color won't change, then it most likely a fake clay yixing teapot.

Image

Image

Second, smell the odor. New zisha teapot generally smells only dust and HuoQi(火气), in short it's the smell of natural clay burnt by fire, no other smell. If you buy a new yixing teapot smell like the chemical, or other pungent odor, it is likely a fake clay yixing teapot. The authentic yixing teapot after used a while, will emitting a faint tea aroma.

Third, listen to the sound. With the lid on the spout gently across, if it is an authentic yixing teapot, sonorous voice should be such as jade-like, crisp, and have a clear sense of sandy friction.

Fourth, touch the surface. The surface of new yixing teapot is not smooth, hand feels there should be sand grain texture. If the surface feels very slippery, it would be polished with wax, or not the authentic zisha clay.

Fifth, see water in the surface. The authentic yixing clay teapot, cause of zisha clay characteristics and pore characteristics of finished yixing teapots, to the surface in open water washout, should be able to form a water film, commonly known as "hanging the water(挂水)", the surface of the water film should be very uniform, and can quickly dry. When you using open water washout, the surface was like drops of water spread out, rather than hang evenly on the surface of the water film, it is likely not authentic clay or surface after handling chemicals.

Image

Sixth, put in boiling water. The authentic yixing clay teapot has natural color, do not add any chemical dyes. If put it into boiling water, the color of teapot surface fade, the water color vary widely, then the pot is a fake, at least add other chemicals.

The points above, also applies to the identification of all yixing clay pots. Based on the points above, can't 100% identify that a pot of clay used in fake, but if meet more than two of points above, then you'd better not to use it."


Source: http://zishayixing.com/blog/yixing-teap ... ing-teapot
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby Dingshu » Sep 22nd, '11, 06:06

If you'd like a translation of that page, post a good clear photo showing all the characters in sharp focus. Can't translate what we can't see.
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby bagua7 » Oct 10th, '11, 01:02

7. Yixing clay reserves

Yixing clay mineral according to their causes, are of inland lakes and coastal sedimentary facies and deposits, was layered, bedded or lenticular output. They are about two hundred million to 400 million years ago, has been formed.

At present, various types of Yixing clay deposits have been found within the (point) 102, proved reserves of 73 million tons, to maintain reserves of 65 million tons, and prospective reserves of 28 million tons. A purple clay which contains 28 mineral mud, proven reserves 59.83 million tons, to maintain reserves of 57.96 million tons, and prospective reserves of 11.6 million tons. According to the authoritative information that dingshuzhen Huanglong Mountain north to the south of Yixing Ceramic Industrial Park within the vicinity of 0.69 square kilometers, has been proven B + C + D class A soil reserves of 11.57 million tons, of which 350 000 -58 purple clay tons. Ledge from the ground 60-200 m, it will be a large-scale production of Yixing pottery raw material base. In addition, the other a clay mine in Yixing purple clay and holds reserves of proved reserves were 900,000 tons. Million tons per year if the amount of calculation, can also be used for more than a century. Although non-renewable mineral resources of purple clay, the more use will be less, but “purple mud dried up” theory is unfounded alarmist.


Source: http://www.zkgood.com/tag/china/page/17/
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby bagua7 » Oct 17th, '11, 21:06

Time for a video explaining various Yixing teapots and their use:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5kwI77DrhM

I wish it could have given more detail about the specifics of Yixing clay; i.e. zhu ni, zi ni, duan ni, etc.
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby Wh&yel-appr... » Sep 17th, '12, 18:05

Chip wrote:Moderator Post.

A few of our Yixing in house experts are actually working on an organized guideline topic.

So, unknowingly, the OP jumped the gun a bit.

I would like to give the organized effort priority, but will point them to this topic as well.


finish anytime in the next year....or so? or did I miss the announcement/link :p ?
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Re: Guide to Yixing Clay Teapots

Postby ethan » Sep 22nd, '12, 09:49

bagua7's list of tests of a Yixing pot conerns: a pot may not be xisha clay, but is it a likely source of poison; or, (less drastically) gives tea that does not taste good as it could taste?
I just bought a "Yixing" teapot in Thailand for less than $15 at a shop selling only Chinese items in a building that has about a dozen such shops. Putting the pot in boiling water, the outside looked to have had a wax finish. No other clear sign of it being a fake> so?
I don't care about authenticity or exact.... just taste & health. Are dangerous teapots really being produced & shipped?
Advice?
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