Time for some pictures, since the weather was nice today to permit some picture taking.
In order to make sense of colours and texture, there is unfortunately not many ways to do it other than looking at stuff. What do they mean when they say pig-liver, for example? Or vermillion, for that matter?
I tried here to show the range of possible colours from what I have on hand. We can leave duanni and the more exotic colours out of the picture, since most of them are probably not very natural anyway (blue, green, etc). I think pig liver is somwhere in the middle of the range here — one of the purplish/brown ones. Those, of course, don’t fall into the category of zhuni clay. So here there are six that I think obviously clear themselves out immediately for “zhuni” qualification. But then, you have the ones leftover
What about these?
Let’s label them one to six, with the front row (closer to us) being one to three, from left to right, and the back row being four to six. Number one here is actually a Tokoname, so that rules it out for zhuni status. Five and six are very new, with five being explicitly a hongni creation from a friend who commissioned the pot, and six being a pot that I bought brand new three years ago. So those are out, if we go by the theory that zhuni no longer exists, at least in terms of the Zhaozhuang mountain variety. That leaves two, three, and four.
Two is a pot I bought a while ago, broken. I posted about it then. I believe this is an actual zhuni pot of some vintage. I recently cleaned it, while leaving the lid in its original pre-cleaned condition. Some more pictures might explain better
It is quite smooth, but not glassy. In toki’s words, feeling real zhuni is like feeling very fine sand. That, of course, depends on exactly what kind of mixture went into the pot, and may differ somewhat, but I’ve seen some purported zhuni pots that are very glassy. I don’t think those are the right ones, and are probably modern imitations/fake. It has a natural sheen before I’ve done anything to it — this is after some intense bleaching that got rid of any patina. It also has some shrink lines, but I think it’s also significant that the shrink lines are not that regular — I’ve seen pots with very regularly spaced shrink lines, which once again I think are a result of attempts to imitate zhuni behaviour.
Number three is very similar in clay to number two. It never struck me until I compared them side by side. I’ve always used that to make dark oolongs, and have had it for more than five years now. I bought this one used and for a not very cheap price, so perhaps this also qualifies?
Number four is more of a question mark. It is one of those that have large particles embedded in the clay. It certainly looks more convincing to me than the glassy “zhuni” pots, but is it real? I don’t know. This I purchased at the store where the owner has literally hundreds of purported old pots. Some look genuinely old. Others are a little more iffy. The jury’s out on this one.