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April 4, 2010

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Yixing teapot famous for its two craftsmen

THE Yixing clay teapot is a specialty product of the city of Yixing, Jiangsu Province, made from clay produced in the region. In Chinese, it is called "zisha hu," meaning "purple sand teapot" for its color and quality.

The most valuable kind of zisha teapot is the mansheng hu model named after the Chinese scholar Chen Mansheng living in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Chen was the innovative designer of many distinguished shapes of clay teapots. His friend Yang Pengnian, who was a renowned teapot maker applying the craftsmanship passed down from his ancestors, made teapots according to Chen's design.

The so-called mansheng hu teapots therefore refer to the vessels designed by Chen and made by Yang and are highly valued by collectors.

As Chen was also a calligrapher, seal-cutter and painter, the teapots he designed usually have his calligraphy and name engraved, making the pieces more valuable because of his fame.

In 1977, a mansheng hu teapot was excavated from diggings in Jinshan District, Shanghai, and it was the first authentic mansheng hu to be found in a tomb.

This item, now displayed in the Shanghai Museum, resembles the shape of bamboo with ribs on its body.

The unique design is celebrated by Chinese scholars because bamboo ribs in Chinese are called "jie," the character also meaning "integrity."

The color of the teapot is purple with dark red, reflecting the exquisite and fine quality of the clay.

The body of the teapot is decorated with delicate reliefs of bamboo and bamboo leaves, fitting harmoniously with the bamboo-shaped body.

Characters with zhuan style (seal script) were engraved on the body to enhance its ancient and elegant characteristics.


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