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.