Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ching Dynasty Pewter Teapot

Kai dropped by last week with another unusual teapot from his collection. I had mentioned an interest in pewter clad Yixing teapots during an earlier visit and he was kind enough to bring his own and satisfy my curiosity. Another Ching Dynasty teapot from the 1850's. Kai confided that pewter clad teapots were not a style he particularly admired. But he did appreciate the historic value and craftsmanship of this one. It's in great condition except for some damage to the all pewter lid. And no, I am not responsible for the dent.

The shape of the teapot mimics a common good luck symbol, one that is often seen in jade jewelry. I asked what the inscription meant but there was trouble deciphering some of the characters and I hope maybe a reader of this post could illuminate me.
A common embellishment seen in pewter teapots are spouts and handles carved from jade (nephrite). I think it's a beautiful touch, the pale stone lightens up the metal composition and gives elegance to plain pewter. Kai was quick to point out the jade was of moderate quality and added little to the monetary value of the pot.
From certain angles the clean, sharp lines gave this teapot a modern silhouette.

I found the artist's stamp inside the teapot.
I'm grateful to Kai for sharing his collection and knowledge with me. I look forward to his visits and a chance to sit by his side while he talks about his appreciation for Yixing teapots and the joys of collecting. I know it's inspired my own passion for these teapots and opened my eyes to the many beautiful styles.


LaoChaGui said...

This pot is amazing. I have seen pictures, but never handled one. I'm extremely jealous. How is the jade joined to the rest of the pot, especially the spout and handle? Is this pure pewter, or just clay covered in pewter? I hope Kai doesn't actually use this... isn't pewter an alloy of tin and lead?

The first two characters are 如意, which you probably figured out. Ruyi means good luck or 'as you wish' or 'everything will go well for you.' I will ask someone else to help me with the rest of your inscription unless someone else does first.

yumcha said...

Hi Will,
This is a pewter covered Yixing teapot. Only the lid is pure pewter. Pewter is originally an alloy of tin and lead, but modern pewters can be any combination of metals so long as the chief constituent is tin.
No one could tell me how the jade is joined to the teapot. I was curious as well about that.
I do know Kai does not use this teapot for tea.
Kai did explain the first two characters and that RuYi was also the name of the shape of this teapot. His translation was "Whatever you wish".
I would be very grateful for your translation skills. Thank you so much!

LaoChaGui said...

I am having a lot of trouble figuring out a few of the characters. If you want to send me a higher resolution photo of the inscription to my email I could show it to some other people, otherwise I give up.

LaoChaGui said...

My final translation attempt.
The Characters in order they should be read:
This is my ideal parsing. It could be parsed in groups of 3 characters, but I think it is unlikely.
May your wishes come true.
Mengding tea, as beautiful as a painting,
Infused with spring water it is the most fragrant,
The Drinker attains longevity like eternal spring.
Engraved by Xin An.

The sixth and tenth characters are very hard to be sure of. If anyone else has other ideas, I'd love to hear them.

The first cultivated tea ever recorded in the annals of history was grown on Mengding mountain in Sichuan province during the Han dynasty.

yumcha said...

Thank you Will!! I can't wait to show this to Kai.

Unknown said...

I adore these pewter encased teapots and have been collecting them for nearly twenty years. Should Kai ever tie of it then perhaps he might be interested in a swap for some more traditional Yixing from the same period.

I have posted part of my collection at
This is just the front page you can view the collection from th e links at the bottom.

It is intriguing that this very popular shape is very common in the pewter types but very rare in other mediums. To think that the shape derives from the humble back scratcher. You can just image the shape of the curled fingers.

Hugely impressed with Will's translation skills!