• by vinux

Purple clay teapots are mainly made of Zisha clay, which is a famous black-purple-brown-gray colored pottery material produced in China’s Jiangsu, Anhui and Zhejiang provinces. It has a fine texture and absorbs tea soup very well. Pottery inscriptions are mainly expressed in seals, words or special patterns carved on the surface of the teapot; they usually mean wishes of good luck or fortune. Therefore, one way to distinguish between them is to observe whether there are any words or patterns on the teapot’s surface.
Purple sand pot, simple and pure in texture, with a concise and simple shape, not only has a strong oriental art language, but also has a profound and calm artistic conception. The shape and carving of the purple sand pot are a visual art, giving people an aesthetic enjoyment, but also a cultural product that combines both appreciation and accumulation.

The shape of a purple sand pot is “varied in shape, but never in roundness”, presenting a competitively beautiful situation. Traditional shapes include animal-like, plant-like, ancient bronze-like, practical tool-like, geometric pattern-like… Modern shapes add more personality and cultural implications, emphasizing the natural expression of simplicity and innocence. That is to say, traditional shapes are mostly “concrete”, taken from and reproduced to life, so as to show the effect of natural beauty. Modern shapes rely on “abstraction”, pursuing a high degree of unity between form and content.

Inspired by engraving and signature, Zisha pottery carving was first introduced in the Tianqi Reign of the Ming Dynasty. According to the “Yangxian Famous Pottery System”, Chen Yongqing (nicknamed San Dazizi) wrote that his carving was “rudely written with a knife”. The signature imitates Zhong Yao’s intention. During the Kangxi and Yongzheng eras of the Qing Dynasty, potter Chen Mingyuan absorbed the pottery styles of the famous masters Xu Youquan and Shen Ziche of the Ming Dynasty, enriched the variety of shapes, and formed a unique artistic style from pottery shapes to pottery carving.

During the Ming and Qing dynasties, potters who were not good at writing would request a calligrapher to sign their names or use seals on behalf of them. Chen Chen (字共之) was an expert engraver who used to carve inscriptions for those potters.

During the Qing Jiaqing Period, Chen Hongshou (Mansheng), the prefect of Liyang county, was fond of purple clay teapots. He painted eighteen styles and asked Yang Piannian and his brothers Bao Nian and Feng Nian to make them according to the style. Then Chen Mansheng and his retinue Jiang Tingxiang, Gao Shuangquan, Guo Pinjia, Cha Meishi etc. engraved calligraphy and paintings to decorate it. It is known as “Mansheng Teapot”. The bottom of the Mansheng Teapot often uses “Aman Tu Shi” and “Sang Lian Li Guan” marks with “Piannian” seal below. Mansheng Teapot combines literary art and pottery art into one, creating a unique artistic style for Purple Clay Teapots and improving the artistic level of Purple Clay Art.