Yixing clay teapot

2020-05-16 12:49:48 - About Tea

Yixing  clay teapot

A teapot (Chahu in Chinese) began to be massively used in China since the 16th century. Although vessels with a spout, a lid and a handle have existed in most ancient cultures since the Bronze Age. Made of silver, gold, copper or tin, they were used during feasts for water and wine. But it never occurred to anyone to make tea in them. The appearance of Chahu is associated with a change in the way tea is consumed. Indeed, in ancient times, tea was brewed in cauldrons, in the Middle Ages - it was poured with finely ground tea crumb with boiling water and whipped in thick foam, adding salt and spices. And when the tradition came to be used to make tea leaves in the understanding that came to us, a suitable vessel appeared: a teapot.

The first famous Tea Masters were known during the late Ming era in the Yixing town area of ​​Jiangsu province:

Yixing Zisha: the first pot in the history of Zisha? What is special about  spring pot?

Spring Pot

The spring pot for potting is a pot made by the famous celebrity artist Yixing in Jiangsu during the period of Zhengde and Jiajing in the Ming Dynasty. Legend has it that his surname is Gong and his name is Chun. Gongchun is an official name of the master. The spring pot is the first recorded work in the history of the development of Zisha. It is made for the spring to imitate the shape of the large ginkgo tree next to the Jinsha Temple. At that time, people praised "the chestnut color is dark, such as ancient and modern iron, Dun Pang Zhou Zheng (周正)".

 When Gong Chun accompanied his master to study at the Jinsha Temple in Yixing, an old monk in the temple was very good at making purple clay pots. Later, he used the old monk to wash his hands and settled the pottery mud deposited on the bottom of the tank, imitating the gall of the large ginkgo tree next to the Jinsha Temple, that is, the shape of a tree knob, made a pot, and carved the pattern on the gall. After firing, this pot is very simple and lovely, so this kind of purple sand pot that imitates the natural shape is famous at once, and people call it a spring pot. There are many people who have mastered Yixing's famous purple sand masters to imitate spring pots. Like Huang Yu Phosphorus in the Qing Dynasty, Jiang Qingqing, Pei Shimin in modern times, Wang Yinxian in the contemporary era, Xu Hantang, Shi Yanqin, etc. have all studied and imitated the offering of spring. Imitation.


 Shi Dabin Opening Square Pot


Shi Dabin, was born in 1573, was one of the most outstanding pot-making artists during the flourishing period of the Ming Dynasty Zisha Pot.

 spring yixing teapot

The skill of making purple clay pots in the Ming Dynasty was very skilled and exquisite when it was passed to Shi Dabin. And he is also enthusiastic about the configuration of the clay, the forming technique and the calligraphy, etc., not only pioneered the sand-making process of the pot, but also created the geometric shape of the pot: that is, the use of square and straight lines, imagination has four , Six, eight or even more square-faced square utensils; the use of roundness and smoothness of the lines makes the roundware more uniform, and the beads are round and jade.

In addition, Shi Dabin not only improved the method of making blanks for the spring of "sashiki as a mold", but also effectively combined the "bottle" and the "bottle" to achieve a major breakthrough in the pot making process. He also heard In response to the opinions of literati Mo Ke, the large pot was changed to a small pot, which laid a solid foundation for the close combination of pot art and tea ceremony

 shi da bin yixing teapot




Clay deposits in the Yixing city area of Jiangsu province are very extensive - they extend many kilometers in length and in depth. These places are called U Se Tu (五色 , Five-colored Earth) and Fu Gui Tu ( , Rich Earth) for the variety of clay lying here formed by sedimentary deposits of ancient lakes. They lie in layers at different depths and depending on the specific terrain, their properties and color differ significantly. The most upscale raw materials are concentrated in Huanglunshan ( , Yellow Dragon Mountain).


clay yixing


Today, the mines, where mining was conducted before, and clay excavations are closed for free access, and in order to start mining, you need to obtain a special license at a high administrative level. Nevertheless, hundreds of tons of raw materials mined earlier are stored in private warehouses by craftsmen (and up to 70% of the local population are employed in pottery production), and every year it increases in value.




The whole variety of Isin clays in the initial classification is divided into two large categories: chia neither, hard clay, nor nen nor, soft clay.


Solid clay with a high content of quartz and mica lies in thin layers from several tens of centimeters to a meter at different depths. Layers of gray-green, yellowish and violet shades are poetically called "dragon veins." Different in quality, which is influenced by a combination of many factors, hard clays, in turn, are divided into purple and green.







Zi ni,  , or purple clay, in its natural form has lilac, purple and greenish hues, after firing it acquires a rich brown, burgundy and lilac color (the higher the firing temperature, the darker the shade). This raw material has perfect ductility, high strength and minimal shrinkage during drying and firing. Beautiful, durable, lightweight, porous and waterproof, it is ideal for brewing tea.


Benshan Lu Ni,   绿 , or green clay, a light gray-green ore, after firing at a temperature of 1170  acquires a golden brown color, at 1200  it turns greenish-yellow, and at 1250  it turns blue.


A mixture of purple and green clay is called Duan Ni,  . When fired, it gives a wide range of shades. The most valuable raw materials of duan are neither of natural origin - lao duan nor old duan nor. The optimum firing temperature is 1180 , the shrinkage coefficient is about 12%.



A more detailed classification of some varieties of green and purple clay distinguishes the following classic varieties:


Hong zong ni,   , red-brown clay, lying in the middle of the layer, elastic and dense, interspersed with mica, sintering at a temperature of 1190-1210 . After firing, it acquires a glossy sheen and a red-brown tint.


Bai Ma Tzu Ni,  麻子  ("one hundred hemp seeds") - is very similar to luyi, lies in the upper layer of tzu ni, has impurities. After firing, it gets a tint of sepia, with dark dots.


A variety of Hong ma tzu ni,  麻子  ("red hemp seeds") - is very similar to tzu ni, but more coarse, with small dark spots. They are removed from the upper layer of zi ni, where it is in contact with a layer of luyi. After firing, it acquires a peach-yellow hue with dark dots.


Di Sao Qing Ni,   青泥, (“bottom”) lies in small tuber-like formations of light green color in the lower part of the Zi Ni ore. The optimum sintering temperature is 1180 , the shrinkage coefficient is approximately 12%. It is used both as an independent raw material and as an additive to soft yellow shi huang clay to reduce sintering temperature and color brightness. Depending on the composition and temperature of the firing in the product gives chestnut, red-brown and hazel shades.


Li Pi Ni, 梨皮 , ("pear skin") - a bengshan lu ni variety, known since antiquity, is a gray-green color raw material, after firing it acquires a delicate greenish tint (for which it is called).


Hei Ni, 黑泥, (black clay) is a light gray raw material with a high content of iron oxides, after firing it acquires a dark gray, almost black color, flickering interspersed with metal particles like tiny stars, for which U Jing Sha is also called, 金沙, black gold sand, and Tien Sin Ni,   , clay of celestial stars. The firing temperature is about 1140 ; the shrinkage coefficient is about 14%.






Nen Ni,  , soft clays, or terracotta, are widely used in the pottery industry of Yixing, but in the manufacture of teapots they are used as additives to zi ni - to increase elasticity and reduce sintering temperature. But among nen there are neither rare, valuable varieties.


Hong ni, , red clay, also called zhu ni, 朱泥, cinnabar clay, or shi huang ni,  黄泥, stone yellow clay from the mines of Huanglong Shan and Zhaozhuang Shan. This clay is saturated with iron oxide (an average of 14-18%), but contains a smaller (compared to Jiang) amount of silicate particles. Therefore, it greatly decreases in volume during firing (shrinkage is 30-55%) and requires a lot of experience and high skill from the potter. Less porous, tapping more sonorous, it is closer in its characteristics to porcelain. Annealed at a temperature of 1080 . After firing, it acquires a bright scarlet, orange-red or purple hue (the intensity of the scarlet depends on the content of iron oxide and the firing temperature - the higher it is, the shade is darker). Sensitive to heat, fluctuations of just a few extra degrees can ruin the product.


One of the most famous varieties of red clay, which, after firing, acquires a bright scarlet color, is Da hong pao ni,    (“big red coat”). Such a robe corresponded to a high official position in the Qing Dynasty.





White Clay, 白泥, Bai Ni, which is mined in Dachao Shan, is rarely used as an independent raw material, mainly as an additive for mixing clay.


In addition to these basic types of natural origin, there are many born, thanks to Jiao Nie and Wei, the art of mixing clay. By mixing raw materials and varying the firing temperature, you can get five primary colors and a great many of their shades, each of which has its own name and technology of firing. The art of mixing clay, however, does not imply the introduction of chemical additives, dyes, or other foreign substances that are not originally inherent in Isin raw materials.

A classic Yixing teapot should be made of qing shui ni - “pure water clay”.


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