Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ching Dynasty Beauty

This gorgeous 1850's yixing teapot belongs to Kai, a serious yixing collector and frequent visitor to the shop. Until this post, there's only been a handful of us lucky enough to see pieces from Kai's private collection. He brought along this Xianfeng Era teapot a couple Fridays ago. It fit perfectly in my palm and I felt the supple clay come to life as I warmed it with my hands.
I ask him if his teapot will pose for photos while he's having tea. He's more than accommodating, "You can keep it till my next visit. I have faith in you." I'm touched by his generosity and trust. But then he (half-joking) made me understand any serious damage to his pot would result in the immediate surrender of my strand of Tahitian black pearls. I guess it's easier to have faith when it's bolstered by collateral : )
Afraid my recent streak of clumsiness would result in 20 grand worth of pretty pottery shards and the loss of one cherished necklace, I hurriedly snapped some pics and returned the teapot to Kai before he left. Part of me wanted to keep it forever.
Lush peonies, chrysanthemum and even a sprig of bamboo are topped with a decorated finial.
Kai says this teapot was most likely produced for export to the West. Although the body is a traditional Yixing pear shape, the illustration and decorative accents would not have appealed to Asian tastes. I love how the unusual amalgam of styles makes it exotic even among other Yixing pieces.
Even the spout has some abstract adornment; something I've never seen before.More decorative glaze on the handle. Although the art is quite elaborate for such a small teapot, the simple shape supports all the incredible detail. Not an artist's stamp but a carved inscription. One that was difficult for us to make out.Fanciful butterflies play in a garden of floral delights. Even the wings have elegant streaks of gold!
I wish I could convey to everyone just how incredible the clay felt. There was something buttery and smooth in texture. It seemed to pull the heat away from my hands and I could have held on to this perfect little gongfu pot for a long time.


Salsero said...

Wow, thanks for sharing the pictures and the information about this wonderful teapot. So glad to learn that you did not break it! Although it actually looks pretty tough. Does Kai actually make tea in it?

yumcha said...

Hi Salsero,
I'm glad I didn't break the teapot either. The walls were very thin and it felt as fragile as a butterfly in my hands. But it's survived this long, thanks to Kai
Due to his extensive collection, I don't think Kai has the time to brew tea in every pot. He's shown us a few that he brews tea with but this wasn't one of them. If only we could all brew tea with Ching Dynasty ware, What a beautiful world that would be.

Janine said...

What beautiful detail. Most of Kai's pots I do not handle for the same reason! Thanks for putting this up for those of us who could not be there.

Will said...

I really like reading your blog, but doing so makes me severely jealous of your daily communing with these antiques. It also makes me sort of nervous how you always talk about breaking things. My wife and her family always shout 'pi' whenever people discuss things breaking that haven't broken yet, or discuss healthy people getting sick. Now I am going to have to light incense and pray to the supreme being of your choice to preserve your luck.

yumcha said...

I need all the luck I can get so please light some incense for me! As for supreme being of my choice.. I've always been partial to Lao Tzu. Is Bruce Lee a supreme being yet? I'd pray to him for grace, agility and kickin moves :p