- by vinux
Once upon a time, there was an old potter who had an apprentice. One day, the old potter asked his apprentice to make a cup using clay from the riverbank. The apprentice did as he was told, but when the cup was finished, it did not look very appealing. It had an odd shape and seemed quite plain and dull.
The old potter told his apprentice to take it to the village fair and see if anyone would buy it. The apprentice agreed, but he was sure no one would want such an ugly cup. To his surprise, people at the fair were drawn to the strange-looking cup and wanted to buy it! The apprentice quickly sold out of cups and returned home with more money than ever before.
The old potter was so proud of his apprentice that he decided to name this strange-looking cup “the Fair Cup” in honor of its success at the village fair. From then on, whenever someone wanted a unique or special looking cup, they would ask for “the Fair Cup”!
Modern fair cups, also known as “even cups”, “public cups” and “tea ocean”. At present, it has become an important utensil in tea ceremony and tea party. If you use a pot to brew tea and then pour it into each person’s cup, the tea water in front will be light and the tea water in the back will be strong. With fair cup, the tea water in the teapot can be poured into the fair cup first, and then distributed to each drinker, so as to keep the taste of each drinker’s teacup consistent. Therefore, it is called fair cup. Next, let’s get to know the story of fair cup.
The story of the Kongdao Cup is one of justice, courage and loyalty. The cup was created during the Warring States period in China by Duke Wen of Zhao. It had three mouths, each mouth representing truth, courage and loyalty. Whenever anyone drank from the cup, they would be reminded to uphold these values in their life. During the ancient Han Dynasty, Emperor Wu Di selected 72 scholars to drink from the Kongdao Cup as a symbol of respect for these values. Today, the Kongdao Cup remains an important symbol of justice and honor in Chinese culture.
Legend has it that in order to please the emperor and win his appreciation, the magistrate of Fuluo County ordered the porcelain workers of “Yuyue Factory” to make a “Nine Dragon Cup” within half a year to pay tribute to the emperor. If it was satisfactory, he would be rewarded; if not, he would be punished. After the order was issued, the county magistrate personally supervised. Due to the difficulty of making the “Nine Dragon Cup” and the short time, all porcelain workers were anxious. They worked day and night to fully demonstrate their intelligence and wisdom. After more than three months and dozens of repeated experiments, they finally succeeded.
Upon seeing the exquisitely crafted “Nine Dragons Cup,” County Grandee was delighted, and personally galloped on horseback to bring the cup to the imperial palace in Beijing as a tribute. Emperor Hongwu Zhu Yuanzhang, upon beholding the art piece that was given as tribute by Fu Liangxian magistrate, was extremely fond of it and praised Jingdezhen’s craftsmanship in ceramic production, deeming it worthy of its title as the Porcelain Capital. The Fu Liangxian magistrate was well-rewarded by the emperor for his tribute, shortly afterwards being promoted from a county magistracy to a prefectural one.
After Zhu Yuanzhang obtained the “Nine-Dragon Cup”, he often used this precious ware to entertain civil and military ministers. At one banquet, Emperor Hongwu deliberately rewarded several trusted ministers for drinking more wine, so he specially filled the imperial wine for them, while other ministers who usually like to speak frankly and offer frank advice were served with only a shallow cup of wine.
Against all expectations, the imperial wine which the emperor had intended for the few courtiers he favored remained untouched at the bottom of their “Nine-Dragon Cup”, while all the other courtiers were merrily enjoying the celestial liquid he had bestowed upon them. The emperor was greatly perplexed by this, and it was only when he looked into it that he learned that this cup was designed to be filled only up to a certain point; if overfilled, then all of its contents would leak out, leaving none behind.
The fairness of the Nine Dragon Cup was named by Emperor Hongwu as the “Fairness Cup”. He who is content with his lot will keep the water, while he who is greedy will drain it. The parable of the Fairness Cup reminds people to act fairly and never be overly greedy.
The principle of making a fair cup is to ensure that each competitor has the same starting point and equal chance of winning.
This was created using the siphon principle. In order to further explore the traditional ceramic craftsmanship of Jingdezhen, the ceramic artists at Shuguang Ceramics Factory made bold changes to “Gongdao Cup”. Originally, the cup handles were slanting downwards and there was only one decoration. When the water exceeded 70% of the cup capacity, it would all leaked out.
After repeated experiments and improvements, the “Fair Cup” with its dragon-horn up was decorated with blue-and-white porcelain and polychrome, which was so beautiful that the water capacity increased from 70% to 90%. Now the “Fair Cup” is famous both at home and abroad, it can be said to be a kind of ceramic advanced art treasures. In 1982, Workers’ Daily published an article entitled “The ‘Fair Cup’ stunned Japan”, pointing out that this cup is deeply favored by foreign businessmen. Nowadays, when tourists come to Jingdezhen for sightseeing, they are all amazed by this treasure and are enchanted by the “Faircup”.