Old yixing pot

Among my recent shipment came this pot

Which, after some careful looking, I think is quite old. The original reason I bought it was because it looked very much like a pot that I saw at Wisteria in Taipei. When I saw a picture of this pot it immediately reminded me of it — they’re not the same in shape or size, but they looked very similar. When I finally got it through the mail and examined it in my hand, it seems more similar than I originally thought — the texture of the clay feels very fine, yet there’s a certain coarseness to it. Sounds contradictory, but it’s not really.

The most interesting thing is the lid

It’s not that obvious here in either of the pictures, but the colour of the lid is a few shades lighter than the pot itself. I’m not sure why that is. One possibility is that the person using this pot didn’t care much to season the lid. Another is that the lid wasn’t used much — possible if the pot was not used as a teapot, but as a shudei (water dropper for ink stones). You can also see how the interior of the lid is very rough — again, looking like the pot from Wisteria. From what I understand, Qing period pots that were made prior to the Daoguang era or so (roughly 1850) usually did not have their interiors “fixed”, i.e. they were left as-is. It was only after that that they had their interiors beautified by smoothing out the joint lines, etc. There’s an obvious joint line in the pot as well, although it doesn’t really show up in pictures very well.

Of course, it is entirely possible for fakes to fake the joint line, and all those other things…. but I don’t think anybody making a fake will do it as an unsigned pot with no name and such obvious problems, such as an air-hole that is a tad too small. Fakes are, not surprisingly, usually a lot prettier.

None of these, of course, makes a convincing case that this is definitely an old pot, but the clay and the work makes me rather inclined to believe it. Either way though… it’s been making good tea for me the past few days, and in some ways, I suppose that’s enough.


Comments

Old yixing pot — 8 Comments

  1. can you shoot a side view where the lid to body join is at eye level? It could be possible a replacement theory.
    but if I were you, It really does not matter. As long as I makes a good cup of tea.

  2. If it was a matter of seasoning, the inside of the lid would still be seasoned, because when you tip it to pour it gets wet. Esp, the cylinder that sits inside the collar, which usually gets the grungiest because surface tension holds tea there, and it’s usually scraped to fit without much burnishing.

    If it was for inkstone painting, why would the body be seasoned at all?

    My guess would be that it is not the original lid. Something about it doesn’t seem to jive with the body. The edges of the lid are slanted, while the collar of the body is vertical.

    In the rounded shapes like this, the sphere is made first, and then 3 circles of clay that are the same size are made usually from the same strip of clay. One disk is laid on top of the sphere and becomes the collar, another becomes the foot ring. The 3rd disk is made into the lid so that the lid is the exact size as the collar since they were made together. If the lid is going to be wider than the collar, the collar usually has a flare or extra layer to make it receive the lid better. On the otherhand, the overhang hat shape is typical in lidded vases, but somehow, I havent seen it much in yixing pots.

    Also, the lid rim is thinner than the height of the collar, which also seems off. Is the foot ring the same height as the collar? If it is, the lid rim should also be the same thickness, as the pieces should have been made from the same beaten strip of clay.

    The other thing that seems odd, is the nipple. It seems smaller/dainty-er than I would expect based on the stoutness of the spout and ear. On a pot so butch, the nipple seems too feminine. I would expect a stout ball, or possibley a squarish cylinder.

    If it is original, it could have been a sort of.. reject/student/practice pot that was functional enough for use that it wasn’t discarded. If that’s the case, perhaps the lid was made from scraps that blended to be a bit different color than the body, since the texture of the claybody does see to be very similar.

    These are just guesses from someone looking at it from a potter’s perspective.

    From a tea drinker’s perspective, it looks like it would have a pretty nice fastish pour, and if it makes good tea, that’s all I’d care about.

  3. I originally rejected the replacement lid theory mostly because the clay looks very similar to the pot’s, but I’m open to suggestions…

    I think the lip of the pot’s lid isn’t much of an indicator. It fits the pot perfectly. The pour is problematic, because the lid is not particularly well made. In fact, neither is the pouring spout. I just like the clay.

    I got it for so cheap… it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day 🙂

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