Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Teapot Tuesday

Is it possible to have too many teapots?  There is always the V & A to help me look sane ...

Yixing clay teapots in the V & A Museum
According to wiki-wisdom, Yixing clay is perfect for teaware due to its sandy  and highly cohesive nature, allowing for an unglazed surface.  The porous nature of the surface means that tea is absorbed into the pot, adding to the complexity of flavours and making Yixing teapots highly prized, especially old ones.

The clay has been extracted in the Jiangsu province since at least the Song dynasty, one thousand years ago.  Some of the old sources of the clay are worked out, making new teapots scarce and expensive.  I understand that it is no longer possible to export old teapots from China as belatedly, the government has decided to preserve the cultural history of this ancient and complex land.

Teapots come in a variety of shapes and sizes, although most are smaller than Western style teapots. Some are highly decorated and formal, while others reflect popular themes and whimsical characters.

I like miniature teasets which is why I bought this one - teapot lid on teapot:

This one is in the form of a lotus root.  Lotus flowers are important in Buddhist iconography:

Symbols representing good luck, wisdom and wealth are common in all sorts of Chinese artefacts, fabrics and furniture.  Wise men and Bodhavistas (holy beings who have attained enlightenment but remain amongst the living to assist them on their paths) are also common images.  This teapot cradles one of the Wise Men - Fu Lu Shou - who is supposed to bring wealth and propserity to the owner.

I suspect there would have been a set of three teapots originally, each representing one of the Fu Lu Shou attributes (Good Fortune, Prosperity and Longevity).  He is holding a golden ingot or yuan bao, to encourage wealth or good fortune.  Some representations of the Fu Lu Shou combine the three attributes of the Wise Men into one figure.

This little piggy is my favourite:

The pig is associated with fertility and virility in the twelve-year Chinese Zodiac.  Possibly this chap was one of a set of twelve, or may have been the property of a person born in the 'Year of the Pig'.  I love his fat cheeks and devil-may-care attitude.

Ready  for a cuppa?



lucychili said...

interesting and yes they have a lovely patina. j

Elisabeth said...

Miniature tea sets bring back memories of childhood play with those tiny porcelain pieces from somewhere deep in the past.

The art of making, pouring and consuming tea seems embedded in our culture and with such a history.

These tea pots are lovely, Isabel.

Catfish Tales said...

Yes, it is!! But I love them so, too. I especially adore the English teapots. Oh, and I saw some wonderful ones while teaching in Beijing as well. Oh, keep me away. I do love a good cream tea. I'm hopeless!

Mama Zen said...

Gorgeous teapots!

jabblog said...

Your teapots are delightful - real conversation pieces and wonderful treasures. I like Fu Lu Shou and the happy pig.

Dave King said...

Coo! There's lots of stuff there I didn't know and always wanted to know, but didn't know I wanted to know.

Super, super write.

Jan Freeman said...

Interesting post. Love the teapots :-)

Louise said...

Oh the piggy is my fav too:) Although the teapot wit teapot lid is just class!

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Lovely post - like the piggy best. Ah for the good old days when tea was tea and made in teapots!

Anna :o]