Yixing pottery from the Yuan and Ming Periods command a high price in todays market. Some pieces are considered priceless national treasures that are never sold. This is not only because of the craftsmanship and rarity, but because of its impact on Chinese culture. It is thus not surprising that scholars and collectors alike keep on searching for these artifacts despite the difficulties they have. The fact is they face a number of issues pertaining to dating, attribution, and ascertaining authenticity whenever they come across a piece that is claimed to or seems to have come, from a particular era. But why are the wares of a specific region in China so valued and in such demand?
To better understand the provenance of Yixing pottery, it is important to have a background of the place where these wares were created. Yixing is located in the Jiangsu province and is near Lake Taihu. Its strategic location made it an agricultural area with very fertile soil, and people from this part of the county drew their wealth from the land - growing rice crop and mulberry trees for silk, which were then sold all over the country. The county likewise attracted a lot of artists, such as painters and poets, because of its unique topography. The spectacular sights are said to be some of the most beautiful in China. Both these factors played a large role in shaping Yixing pottery and making it famous the world over.
Pottery has long been one of Yixing's primary trades; however, records about it were only made during the early Yuan and Ming periods. As said in the previous paragraph, artists flocked to the area because of its scenery. The literai "discovered" Yixing wares and included them in songs, paintings, and the like. This is the start of the area's rise in popularity as a pottery town.
The soil used in Yixing ware is what sets it apart from pottery made in other parts of China and the rest of the world. This is known as zisha, and is actually a collective term for the three types of clay found in the Yixing county, namely: zisha, zhusha, and banshanlu. These three differ in color, in that zisha is red-brown, zhusha is red, and banshanlu is white. However, all of them are characterized as sandy, and thus make for pieces that are unique from those made with other types of clay. This attribute gives Yixing pottery a textured look but a smooth feel, which makes them stand out from the usual ceramic wares. The sandy characteristic is also what made Yixing teapots the best tea ware in the world according to experts and tea aficionados alike. This is because teapots made from zisha clay absorb a small amount of the tea brewed into the micro-pores of the unglazed interior of the pot. After a period of use, the resulting tea has better color, flavor, and aroma. And after a time, the tea pot will develop a patina from the tea that has been brewed in it.
Karen Davis is an Yixing Teapot enthusiast and collected her first pot back in the 1980's. She is the founder of Brownstoneshopper, an online discount webstore that sells Yixing teapots and tea. We have a variety of teapots showcased in our online gallery. If you enjoyed this article, visit us now online at http://www.brownstoneshopper.com/contact-us/ and sign up for your FREE Report!
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