• by vinux

Yixing purple sand pot originated during the Zhengde Period of the Ming Dynasty. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, along with the prosperity of porcelain, Yixing purple sand pot art also developed rapidly. From the Ming Dynasty to modern times, there are many famous works by famous masters. Nowadays, purple sand pots have risen in auction market prices and are “antiques” with collection value, and they have also been sought after by many people who love pots. So who is the founder of Yixing purple sand pot?

The founder of Yixing purple clay teapot is Gong Chun (Gong Chun).

Generally speaking, the founder of the purple clay pot is Gong Chun (Gong Chun) in Jiajing period of Ming Dynasty. “I read books from Zuquan Shigong on Nanshan Mountain and brought a child named Gongchun. I saw that the people made pots with mud, and cleared the mud to make pots. It was very beautiful and ancient. It was called Gongchun pot.” (Wu Meiding: Preface of Yangxian Cizhu Fu) At that time, people praised Gongchun Pots for their “dark brown color, like ancient and modern iron, honest and dignified”. In just 12 words, people can see its pot. Unfortunately, Gongchun Pot is no longer visible. The imitation made by contemporary Yixing Purple Sand Master Gu Jingzhou is about 600000 Hong Kong dollars, which shows how precious the artistic value of Gongchun Pot is.

The three greatest purple-clay artisans of the Ming Dynasty – Shi Da Bin, Li Zhong Fen and Xu You Quan.

Spring is celebrated for two of the most famous masters of later Ming Dynasty purple-clay pottery, Shida Bin and Li Zhongfen. The two were collectively referred to as the ‘Three Great Masters’ of purple-clay pottery during the Wanli period (1573–1620) following the Ming dynasty. Shida Bin’s style was elegant and unostentatious, with graceful and flexible modeling – while he eschewed any ostentatious decorative techniques, his ingenuity was evident in its simplicity and firmness. His disciple Xu Youquan remarked in his later years that “My skill cannot compare to even the roughest work of Shida”. Xu Youquan was highly skilled and adept at converting ancient bronzes into purple-clay teapots, with a rustic but sturdy quality. It is said that when Xu asked Shida to mold him a mud ox, the master refused. At that moment an ox passed by outside their window; Xu quickly snatched some mud and ran out to mold it while looking at the real ox—Shida then praised his ingenuity and eventually gave Xu all his skills. These four are regarded as the great masters of purple-clay pottery of the first era.

Chen Mingyuan and Hui Mengchen were masters of purple-clay teapots in the early Qing Dynasty.

The second-generation master potters of purple-clay teapots were Chen Mingyuan and Hui Mengchen from the early Qing Dynasty. Chen Mingyuan used common shapes such as chestnuts, walnuts, peanuts, water chestnuts and mushrooms to shape his teapots. He was good at sculpting with mud and making the purple-clay teapot more vivid, lively and full of vitality, transforming traditional teapots into sculptures with life. At the same time, he invented the practice of marking the bottom of teapot with a seal and stamping on inside cover which became a fixed procedure during the Qing Dynasty and had a great influence on its development. Due to his excellent workmanship, many imitations and fakes appeared in large numbers. Mr. Gu Jingzhou said that in half a century since he had learned art as a child until his old age, he only saw a few genuine pieces and collectors should be extra careful not to miss them. Hui Mengchen from late Ming Dynasty to early Qing Emperor Chongzhen period was good at making small teapots which were superior to big ones in some ways. His works are known for their bamboo knife carving signature mark on side wall or “Yonglin” seal imprinted inside lid which are regarded as top quality pieces

Chen Hongshou and Yang Pengnian were master potters of purple sand pots during the Qing Dynasty.

The third-generation master of purple clay teapots was Chen Hongshou and Yang Pengnian during the Jiaqing and Daoguang periods of the Qing Dynasty. Chen Hongshou was a famous painter, calligrapher and seal carver in the middle period of the Qing Dynasty. His artistic proposition advocated innovation, he advocated “poetry, painting and calligraphy, not necessarily proficient” but must see “interest”. He applied this art proposition to purple clay pottery. The first great contribution is to combine poetry, painting and calligraphy with purple clay pottery. Poems and paintings are written on the pot with a bamboo knife. The second great contribution is that he has created many novel styles of purple clay teapots with his talents and improvisations, which has brought vitality to the innovation of purple clay teapots. His cooperation with Yang Pengnian can be regarded as a model. The purple clay teapot made in Jiaqing period that we can see has “Pengnian” or “Amantuo Room” printed on the pot handle or bottom which were designed by Chen Hongshou and made by Yang Pengnian, later called “Mansheng Pot”. Chen Hongshou made purple clay pottery more literati-like. Although its production technology is not as exquisite as that of the middle period of Ming Dynasty, it has had a great influence on later generations. Yang Pengnian pioneered the new technology of pinching mouth without using molds, making it freely with his hands, which is quite interesting.

After the Qianlong period, as the decline of the Qing Dynasty, the production of purple sand pot also becomes more and more depressed. It is worth mentioning that Shao Daheng during the Jia Dao years was a master for Chen Mingyuan’s later generation. Others, such as Shao Youlan, Shao Youting, Jiang Dexiu, Huang Yulin and Cheng Shouzhen, were not on par with the previous generation. Most of them followed old traditions and rarely innovated; moreover, their craftsmanship was becoming increasingly sloppy and careless.

Contemporary purple clay masters

Mr. Gu Jingzhou is the foremost. Other masters such as Jiang Rong, Xu Xiutang, Xu Hantang, Bao Zhiqiang, Gao Haigeng, Zhu Kexin, He Daohong, Pei Shimin, Wang Yinchun, Li Changhong, Gu Shaopei, Wang Yinxian and Lv Yaochen each possess extraordinary skills and different specialties and are all talented figures at the time. When did Yi Xing purple sand pot originate? This has been debated among academics as well as collectors of purple sand wares.

Alternative phrasing:

Yixing purple sand pot originated in the Song Dynasty. According to the excavation of a Song Dynasty Longyao kiln site in Dingshu Town, Yixing in 1976, many purple sand pottery artifacts were unearthed. In addition, there are also documents that the earliest poem was written by Ouyang Xiu of the Northern Song Dynasty: “I enjoy drinking with Ouzhou, envying your elegant and clear”, and Mei Yaochen also praised it with poetry: “The small stone cold spring leaves an early flavor,” “New purple mud shines with spring flowers.” Archaeological excavations of objects and documentary records mutually confirm each other and have reference value for periodization.

The Yixing purple sand pot originated from the Ming Dynasty. This statement was based on the founding chapter of Yang Xianming’s “Ming Zhou Gao” Tea Pot Series. There was a monk in Jinsha Temple who was used to using pottery jars, so he chose fine soil to be washed and kneaded into a pot, and then put it in a clay cave to be burned, thus being passed down. According to the “Zhengshi Chapter”, Gongchun served as the Wu family’s slave, and at this time Wu was reading in Jinsha Temple. Gongchun was very intelligent, learned the technology of making purple sand from monks and temple people, and gradually changed the previous method of making solely by hand to spinning mud with wooden boards and using bamboo knives in practice.