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]

In 1984 Fan's parents agreed to lend that heirloom teapot to the Yixing purple clay factory, whose director paid back the favor by recruiting the young man to work as a young apprentice.

"It was the right time, the first few years of China's reform and opening-up," Fan says.

"Soon wealthy customers from Hong Kong and Taiwan were coming to the city and ordering purple clay teapots and paying as much as hundreds and even tens of thousands of yuan."

Then came purple clay aficionados from other countries such as South Korea and Japan, who have the same cultural thirst for the tea drinking tradition.

This increasing new demand inspired Yixing to put an effort into developing its purple clay industry. Senior artisans and master artists were invited to train young workers such as Fan, and special workshops were set up to producing objects for export.

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