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Three short stories about China and purple clay

05.24.2009 · Posted in Home and Garden Articles

Who was the first person that discovered the distinctive purple clay ideal for making teapots? How deep do purple clay teapot collectors love their treasures? There are many interesting Chinese legends and folklore that aim to answer these questions.nnA mysterious monk, the father of purple claynn[I:12:J] Long, long ago, in southeast China’s small town named Yixing, the locals were enjoying the tranquility of the country life.nnThen suddenly, the tranquility was broken. A mysterious monk popped up unexpectedly. He walked up and down, calling out, “Lucrative clay! Lucrative clay!” The locals looked around, with no idea what the monk meant. The monk then exclaimed, “Don’t you want to become rich!?” The locals were dumbfounded, and didn’t know how to reply. So the monk closed his mouth, and left.nnOne elderly villager was so curious that he followed the monk. When they went to Mt. Huanglong (Yellow Dragon) in Yixing, the monk disappeared suddenly. The elder looked about for him, but all he could find were some newly-opened caves. Looking inside the caves, he found multicolored pottery clay.nnThe elder took some of the colorful clay back home. He shaped and fired the clay. When the pottery came out of the kiln, he could not believe his eyes, for it featured unique colors. This matter reverberated through the town. The villagers followed the elder’s example, and the Yixing purple clay industry began.nnA beggar and his purple clay teapotnnA long time ago, an affluent landlord reveled in savoring tea. He was fond of meeting new friends who loved tea as well. He always treated rich and poor visitors equally well, and with good tea.nnOne day, a beggar came. Instead of food, he only asked for tea. A servant led him in, asked him to take a seat, and offered him a cup of tea. The beggar took a look at the tea, and said, “This tea is not good.”nn”Does this guy know what good tea is?” the servant said to himself, and made another cup of tea with the best tea leaves. The panhandler smelled at the rim of the cup, and commented again, “The tea leaves are good, but the water is subpar. The best water for brewing tea comes from the mountains.”nn”He must be no ordinary pauper,” the servant thought, and then he immediately made another cup of tea with the mountain water kept in the residence. After taking a sip, the pauper made his comment again, “This water is ok, but the firewood is not the best. You know, the firewood from the mountainside facing the sun is too soft, but wood on the other side is usually good.” The servant marveled at the pauper’s words, so he promptly brewed tea once again using the good firewood, and asked the rich man to come out and meet the strange pauper.nnWhen the tea was ready, the rich man and the beggar drank a cup of it together. Then the beggar remarked, “Well, this time the tea leaves, water, firewood and fire are good, but the *** is not good.” “This is the best *** I have,” the rich man replied.nnThe panhandler then reached and pulled out a dainty purple clay teapot featuring soft and inviting luster. “Try again with this one,” he said with a smile. This time the tea tasted so good that no one could say no to it. Realizing the true value of this ***, the landlord made a prompt decision: He offered to purchase the teapot from the panhandler on the spot.nnThe beggar hastened to empty his ***, put it away, and intended to leave. The rich man stopped him right away, and exclaimed, “I’d like to pay half of my family possessions for your ***!” With no response, the beggar just wanted to move away. The rich man was so eager that he raised his voice again, “Ok, I’d like to give you all of my family possessions for your ***!” This time, the beggar laughed, and replied, “I wouldn’t have been so poor to this extent today if I was willing to part with this ***.”nnA purple clay teapot equals a maid’s life?nn[I:14:J] Once upon a time, there was a local official who was absolutely nuts about purple clay teapots. In his eyes, the most precious one in his collection was a teapot crafted by the most famous master potter of that time.nnOne day at tea time, a maid accidentally dropped and broke the precious *** as she served the official. The official flew into rage, and he demanded the maid compensate for his *** with her life.nnAs this incident reached the potter’s ears, he resolved to save the maidservant and teach the administrator a lesson. He ran to the administrator’s dwelling with ten choice purple clay teapots he crafted hanging on his carrying pole. He offered, “Choose one of my most precious teapots, and set the maidservant free.”nnThis suggestion made the administrator quite pleased. He picked one of the ten pots, and ordered his guards to unshackle the maidservant.nnLater on, the administrator brought forward another question, “Sir, would you like to sell me the other teapots?” The potter rose to his feet silently, and smashed every one of them.nnShocked, the official was at a loss for a minute. Then he asked in confusion, “What did you do that for?” Calmly and firmly the artisan replied, “I smashed them at the cost of no life.

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