How do we know the Chinese drank tea first?Where did tea come from?Oolong tea, green tea, white tea, Pu'er tea, black tea... How many kinds of tea are there?How did tea get to the other parts of the world?Who drinks tea?How important is tea to the Chinese?What's so special about all those tea pots?Questions to ponderPrint this chapterShare on FacebookLinks / ReferencesSite map Font size: original Font size: medium Font size: large 中文
Yixing purple clay tea ware
 Tea and tea wareYixing purple clay tea wareYixing tea pots' shapesYixing tea pots' decorations
 Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644 A.D.)Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911 A.D.)20th century and afterwards
  Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644 A.D.)
  Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911 A.D.)
  20th century and afterwards
 
 

Yixing teapots commissioned by the imperial family began in Kangxi period (1662 - 1722 A.D.). The Palace had an interest in collecting decorative pieces, and purple clay wares with glazing hence emerged. Renowned potter during the period included Chen Mingyuan. He was skilful in refined relief and ornate details, and was particularly famous for his teapots in naturalistic style.

By the Jiaqing reign in the Qing dynasty (1796 - 1820 A.D.), another craft master emerged. Yang Pengnian was a maker of elegant and delicate teapots. He did not use mould but fabricated vessels by freehand. This approach resulted in works of great natural charm that were prized by the art circle.

Appreciating Yang's talent, county magistrate Chen Mansheng came to Yixing to produce teapots with him. Chen designed 18 teapots in archaic style for Yang to handcraft. The teapots were engraved with calligraphy or paintings with a bamboo knife while the moulded clay was half dry. These teapots were the "Mansheng teapots", mentioned earlier.

In the early 19th century, a scholar, Zhu Jian (active in 1796 - 1850 A.D.), introduced a kind of purple clay teapots encased in pewter and adorned with engraved painting and calligraphy. Jade handle, knob, and spout were fitted onto the teapot to avoid the users from the burning heat and in pursuit of elegance for the literati taste. In addition to pewter, sometimes brass and copper mounts are also found in Yixing teapots of the 19th century.

Due to the rapid development of the purple clay industry and the expansion of local and export markets, companies were established in Shanghai, Wuxi, Tianjin, and Hangzhou by industrialists during the 19th century. These shops commissioned wares from Yixing, but each had its own artists to decorate them. Decorations continued the 19th century style, which combined images from painting and calligraphy. Tiehua Xuan, Zhen Ji, and Wu Desheng were best-known companies specialised in dealing Yixing wares to Southeast Asia, Japan, and Europe.

 
7 Things Every Chinese Should Know About TeaInfo. for teachers | About us | Privacy policy | Important notices© 2012 Hong Kong Museum of Tea Ware