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Purple clay teaware grows up and matures

05.02.2009 · Posted in Home and Garden Articles

Today, tea lovers worldwide are proud of their tasteful purple clay teapots. They understand that a purple clay teapot both has functional uses and is an elaborate art form. Purple clay teapots are exclusively made in Yixing, a tiny town in southern China’s Jiangsu province. Potters today incorporate many traditional forms of Chinese art. But many people don’t know the history of these pots, so this article will show you some milestones in the evolution of purple clay.nnOrigins: An amazing discoverynnDuring the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), loose-leaf tea came into fashion. More and more people took to drinking tea, and they tried to find better tea ware. Now the stage was set for the first purple clay teapot to show up.nnAccording to ancient sources, a boy named Gong Chun saw some people making jars using purple clay and was enlightened. “Why not use it to make teapots?” he thought. He cleansed the clay, and crafted a small purple clay teapot.nn[I:1:J]The *** featured graceful and simple look. It was thin but rock hard. People who saw it admired the boy’s ingenuity. And what’s more, they found the tea from the *** smelled more aromatic, and tasted more delicate. After this, the potters started to copy the original design.nnNote: An imitation Gong Chun *** made by contemporary master potter Gu Jingzhou was sold for over $25,000 US dollars.nnAchievements made by potters of the last two dynastiesnnIn the Ming dynasty, master potters sought to make graceful teapots with their own designs. For instance, some of them created new styles based on bronze vessels, which were ornate and reflected the solemn attitudes of the falling dynasty.nnIn the early Qing dynasty (1644 – 1912), master potters began to craft purple clay teapots based on fine sculptures. Natural objects like chestnuts, trees, and animals were used for inspiration and teapots became works of art that were more vivid and animated. Much like other forms of art at that time, an artist would inscribe his name and imprint his seal on the *** so that other people knew it was his.nnAfter many years, some craftsmen wanted to engrave complex images and landscapes on purple clay teapots. During this time, many different kinds of traditional Chinese art were added to the crafting of purple clay teapots. The invention of new tools allowed them to make more intricate designs, like Chinese characters, that were previously impossible.nnFall, then rise after the imperial agennUnfortunately in the early 20th century, purple clay handiwork experienced a depression period. But over the last thirty years, a number of master potters have come to the fore. These proficient craftsmen have studied traditional skills, and they dare to innovate past designs. [I:3:J]nnNowadays real purple clay teapots are more precious than ever before. After hundreds of years of unrestricted mining, the Chinese government’s Purple Clay Protection Regulations came into effect on April 1, 2007. Now only a limited amount of this resource can be used each year.

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