Masters of the purple clay

By Zhang Kun in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2021-02-20 09:33
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A classical form of a purple clay teapot. [Photo provided to China Daily]

No one seems to know exactly how many teapots and cups are produced in Yixing, but in any case it is often a figure of a very different kind relating to this purple ware that makes the headlines in China: its price. At an auction in Beijing in 2015, for example, a 10-piece purple clay tea set made by the artisan Gu Jingzhou set a record for the price of such art, fetching 92 million yuan ($14.3 million).

Made from clay taken from local rock mines, Yixing purple clay teapots, named of course after their signature color, are largely handmade.

Craftsmen and women spend years learning to press wet clay into a perfect flat piece, before turning it into a pot. The few tools they use include spatulas, small hammers and needles made of bamboo, wood or steel.

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