History is a mirror. So-called "mirror" means the historian want to know about the "active action", it is also means what we had been doing in the past, just as same as the England philosopher of history R.G.Collingwood said in his famous work "The Idea of History", "to vindicate history as a form of knowledge distinct from natural science and yet valid in its own right." What the "knowledge" means not only the vast documents but also the ardiaeology materials and the tangible and intangible cultural heritages which kept no matter overground or the civilian. There was a speech to analyze exhaustively about the historical relics said by Mr. Shen Congwen, you can not understand the history if you left for the relics; supposed if China was enough for only having the history of Twenty-five Dynasties, we know the unearthed was not just like these histories. We should find the new way to solution and new explanations for the inaccurate things in history. And we will be enlightened by the indefinite documents. In fact, many historical relics quoted in his book included the handed down for generations in early unearthed and collected vessels for a long time by the collectors. Since, it should be always like as the investigation and collection on purple clay pottery.
1."Sand combo with fire and water"
In progress of human beings, inventions and discoveries on the road were endles(Morgan, Ancient Society). Although it was late technology in making pottery, after the bark, fiber, stone and the natural material such as physical neanderthals were used, but because it was the"sand combo with fire and water" (Song Yingxing, "Exploitation of the works of Nature"）through a long-term observation and experiment and inventions It was a unprecedented materials, far-ranging and deducing used until today, became a great fields, and won the reputation of "Light of China".
According to the historical documents,the legendary of "Shun potting near the streamside","Kunwu made pottery"and the famous"Taotangshi" "potter",pottery fortune"etc on the books were not spoken in detail, but there were definite records about the pottery appeared in "potting on the streamside" and made pottery by turntable. With Sima qian wrote his Records of the Grand Historian, he further explicitly pointed out that the Gui(container) with which squareness roundish mouth and made by bamboo ,wood had become the feed implement. Was this change not only for the original resource of antique manufacture but also for making up for a deficient record of ancestors? Definitely yes. Then, with the modem archaeological scholars in China had gotten the further achievements on Chinese ceramics that long before the "Shun potting on the streamside" has nearly 10,000 years on history, and also won the new techniques in the aspects of discovery and interpretation. About these, author could not figure them out, but you will understand fully at one glance on the poem, The Moon Over The West River which written by Mr. Guo Moruo in 1973, "earth is the mother of every life, pottery is made by human being, pottery twinned with earth, to form a light and shade principle. Water, fire,wood, gold are coordinate, Gong,Shang, Jiao, Hui composed a symphony, gathering to be a pottery ocean and vast sea of water, all of it became universal nature."of course, in these ocean and vast sea, the Kungfu of Yixing Zisha potters contributed to the porcelain kingdom of potters and earth.
2.Three geography conditions of producing Zisha
When we confront so many and so beautiful Yixing purple clay pottery wares, after highly praise and appreciations, we still wondering about why this made from zisha---a purple clay found only in and near the Yixing Dingshu regions of China where the mountains and lakes arounding. We know that, no matter what discoveries in science and techniques were not merely the spark of people's wisdom, it also must depend on the bursting of the regional environment,social history and technical conditions,in other words, it should be considered as all the ZiSha pottery made by potters based the foundation and utilization on earth,water, fire and conditions of areas.
First, earth is the root of life;
The root cause of Zisha pottery could fired out in Yixing an continued till today was the "earth", this earth was not the common porcelain clay, it was a kind of aggregate structure sandrock which buried meters deep in melilitolite and containing rich iron. Local peopl called "Dahongpao", "Benshan Red Clay","Purple Clay Layer"There were as many as 55 main sources,distributed in Huanglong Mountain Zhangzhu, Hufu, Pudong, etc. How could they be discovered? And who was that? About these questions, Zhou Gaoqi who lived in Jiangyin (Emperor Wanli in Ming Dyansty l600-Emper of Shunzhi in Qing Dynasty 1645) gave us an interesting and imaginable answer in bis book Yang Xian ming hu xi (Recordation of Yangxian Teapot).Now I quoted this paragraph to let you enjoy."It was said that a strange monk passed by when the sand of teapot been discovered and used, he hallooed as "sell the wealth", people all laughed at him. The monk said, 'I do not want to sell the expensive things, I want to sell way to become rich,' he guided villager where the native sand was. People dug the hole and found the different kinds of color sand seemed like silk brocade.
About the wonderful legend, there was a similar record on the Deying Stelein in old sites of Yaozhou kilns between Xining Period in Emperor Shenzong of Song Dynasty(l0668~1077), it was said during Yonghe Period in Western Jin Dynasty(345~356), a outlander came to Yaozhou, found the best sand and clay foe making porcelain and teapot so he imparted the technique of producing pottery to local and made them became their back and belly.
Although two stories were not the same master, but they got the same objective on the pottery techniques near the Taihu Lake, an extraordinary man did investigations on sand and realized the "sand"was the "resource of back and bellyy"as they could become rich. I considered as the poem wrote by Gao Shiqi who was a scholar in Qing Dynasty as the best description of water, mountain and the earth of Dingshu Area,"A picturesque stream lies under the Xingnan mountain, the water is shinning and filtering the sediment to keep the kinds of amorous feelings.
Second, the pottery in pottery capital was well established and vigorously developing Archaeologists have told us that they once found 16 ruins of pottery kilns from late-Western Han Dynasty to the late-Eastern Han Dynasty at southwest region from the hillside of Dingshu Area, in Yixing. The unearthed vessels were grey pottery primarily, but some were red pottery and celadon. Judging from shape, jars, urns, altars and pots were the most common.. Generally made by wheeling, some were tablet molding. Here was a worthy of our attention of the celadon fired out at here were basically the same with the celadon unearthed at Shangyu, Zhejiang Province which belong to the Eastern Han Dynasty. After these, we found the historical roots and process of uninterrupted innovation according to the unearthed celadon of Western Jin Dynasty in Tangdu and the celadon kilns of mid-, late-Tang Dyansty in Jianzhong. The shape of vessels in Tangdu were jars, alms bowls, basins, pots primarily, with thick vessel wall, decorated with fish roe on die surface- The celadon fired out in Jianzhong were folk daily expenses pnmarily, included the bowls, jars, alms bowls, basins, plates, pots and vases,etc.An important dragon kiln was found by the experts of Yixing Pottery, co. in southwest of Huanglongshan, the kiln was 1 meter width, meters long from south to north direction, specialized for firing the Zisha vessels. The unearthed vessels were teapots with handle loop primarily, no any decoration on the pot body, win as bright and clean, a jade like quality, Its molding technology was as same as Wu Qian said in his book of Recordation of Yangxian Famous Potteries, "pinching it as the paste, designing it as a round." According to the judgements of experts of Ancient CeramicsArts and Crafts Research Institute, its raw materials belonged to the round structure and contained lots of haematite as same as Yixing Zisha. There were so many attitudes on the period of Zisha kilns in Yangjiaoshan, but the consensus assumes were "go back to the Song or Yuan Dynasites, ending at the Ming Dynasty."
Third, tea and teapot were a pair and help each other developed forward
Lu Yu talked about tea in his first chapter of The Classic of Tea in Emperor Dezong of Tang Dynasty(780AD), "tea, the best plant in south, high up to the ten inches, two people could hug the tree in Bashan (Sichuan Province)."tea was cold taste and the best for drinking".But we know from the books that lots of high and burly tea trees center on the virgin forest near Lancang River, Mengbai in Yunan Province, The highest was up to 12 meters, these gave Lu Yu's description for easy verifications.
Lu Yu not only list us for 11 states he had done the research such as Fuzhou, Guizhou, Jizhou, Xiangzhou, etc in The Classic of Tea. but also divided the tea into three levels such as first,secondary and inferiority. Of which the Yixing of Changzhou was considered as inferiority and pointed out the tea was picked at the foot of north peak of Junshan Mountain such as the Shuzhou tea which grew up in the valley. According to the records of disuse the Yizhou, Shuzhou,and set up the Yangxian and Linjin General geography of New Tang Shu, we can know about the long history of tea production in Yangxian,this is an evidence of doing research on tea culture of Tang Dynasty.
We can know about how the different tea vessels could be produced to be on speaking terms for "making tea" industry. The major procedures included nine items such as picking, steaming, pounding, pinching,cauterizing,grinding, collecting,boilng,etc.Contrast to these items, as same as Mr.Zhu Ziqing said about the poets, they blend their daily life in to the poems", belong to the results of the profound philosophical and magnificent imaginations. What we can read the poem written by Bai Juyi, his customs and tea-drinking life was just identical with what Lu Yu described.
In the Records written by Cai Xiang in Song Dyansty, we know that Jian'an tea was also pass the same procedures such as cauterizing, pounding, pinching, grinding,collecting, boiling, then drinking. It seemed like they used the tea cake as well. Because of these, we could not find any pot on the record except for the bowls, jars, cups, spoons, vases. Besides we can not ignore there were not only one category for tea cake, he also mentioned the weak tea, loose tea, dust tea, etc. There were discriminations of tea bag and tea dust no matter in cities or in remote areas, and the tea bag was counted as strings as well as the tea leaf was counted as 1/2 kilogram. And we had mentioned about tea-drinking methods above, to say no more than is necessary. Used the teapot to drink appeared after the mid to late-Ming Dynasty, the major vessels were porcelain teapot, Zisha teapot and teacups. This was the definite generalization about tea-tasting in his Chang Wu Zhi (Treatise on Superfluous Things), we have a different fashion on tea boiling and cooking methods in our period and it convenient and intereting to make the tea getting its true flavouious."
In 1987, the Zisha teapot, which made by the famous potter in Ming Dynasty, excavated in Zhangpu, Fujian Province, and a pile of loose tea within it. The beauty of teapot, the incense of tea represented the the Ming scholars and literatis' hobby of infusion of the tea. Besides, there still had traits should be pay attention to, first, the mastership of tomb was Mr and Mrs Lu Ruifeng who were officials; second, the bury time of this teapot was Wanli next 38 years (1610); third, it carved four characters as "Made by Shi Dabin" by the potter at the bottom of teapot, deep and potent; fourth, it was the first time discovered the loose tea in Chinese cramics development history. After the curator of Hangzhou Tea Museum Wu Shengtian identified, the tea was the earlist tea leaves that we know the definite age. Since I thought a history of tea, it should be included the tea, tea vessels, tea actors, now not only can we find all of these in Zhangpu, but also know the teapot was made just for the infusion of tea methods, the Shi Dabin's style of teapot was adapted and satisfied the needs of people at that time. In one word, it was a shock between tea-making and regional culture, also stand for potters' creation and innovation of tea, then they went into a blossom of ages.
3.Our favor tea and pot are existing in the poems and paintings
When I read the poetry of the Tang Dynasty, two poems praised about the Yangxian tea. One was written by Li Jiayou in Tang Dynasty, this was the earliest record about the Yangxian tea. The other was the rhesis," the son of heaven should taste the Yangxian tea first, then the common flower dare to blossom". From this time, Bai Juyi, Yao He(779~848), Du Mu(803~852) all wrote the poems for eulogizing the Yangxian tea. Although Yangxian tea was not the tribute after the Song and Yuan Dynasties, but it was still gorgeous in the poems and paintings of scholars and literators, they left to us the faithfulness of proverbs which can be read and watched. I picked three of representative works from Yuan Dynasty to mid-Qing Dynasty, let feel about the tea culture which past for a long time and imagine what they should be looked like, Gao Qi wrote a poem for the painting of Ni Zan, "once I drunk the Yangxian tea, never been there before, the beauty of the landscape were involved into the paintings."Wu Kuan who was an official in the capital, he left lots of tea poem about Yangxian tea because of his favorite tea," why the boat coming so late, the reason is the fresh and new Yangxian tea coming with. Tha last one was the master of Taoist community, Xu Wei who was born in Shaoxing, he mentioned the tea and Zisha vessels in his poem, but without the pot. Such as"buy the Yixing Zisha vessels in spring, in the rain with green sticks", "seven bowls, sitting three, painted this scene for another year, add the furnace to as the tea napkin." Then we can see the characteristic that he expresses own feelings through tea.
The historical story paintings what Mr. Li Lincan reasoned deserves our deep thinking and discussed. He said, so many story paintings were painted the scene of life at that time that we should know how important these materials were. My teacher Pei Wenzhong also told me as," you should read and watch the definite objects or things, they are both important to you. The definite objects or things included the pottery, porcelain, bronze, paintings which painted on the silk or the tough silk, variety of kinds of pictures weaved on the silk fabrics, they are so brilliant beauty and a thousand flowers vie for blooming. And they can also help you to disabuse what you don’t understand'. So I think if we want to do some research on the history of Zisha teapot, it should consider the map interpretation as the other lessons.
Now, let us read some paintings about tea affairs about made by famous painter in Wumen School. Why do I think a lot of them in these so many famous painters of Ming Dynasty? Their love with country, their with the native soil, their activities were all happened near the Taihu Lake, as well as all before Jiajing Period in Ming Dynasty. If we want to find some information about the Yixing Zisha tea vessels before Wanli Period in Ming Dynasty, you should read these paintings and get same useful informations among them.
NO.1 Tang Yin(147〜1523) Yum-Tung Tea Tattings,
This figure painted that a master sitting in the long shadow under the tung tree, the cup was holding in hit right hand, and talking something to the guest who is sitting on the opposite bamboo chair, the guest stop drinking tea besides his mouth, smiling harmoniously And the boy who stand behind the tree bolding the jar listening to the attractive conversation too careful to forget add water into the teapot which near the host. Tang Yin wrote i short comments like summer in Zhende Period", it should be Zhengde next 4 years(1509). Collected by the United States at the museum of the Chilcago University.
N0.2, Tang Yin, "Ming thing map"
It painted a hut far from the city, located between the tree and bizarre stone with a flowing stream in front of the door, distal mountain is mist-covered, in the middle of house door stood a table, face from the table there are a cup of tea and a teapot with loop handle, die master is restful and tasting the tea, which has earned a fun read Tang Yin's meanings dearly inscribed on the rhyme of his comments,What we spend for all day, the tea and the book, sitting under the window, the grey sideburns climb my face with the light wind."" This scroll was hard copy and collected by the Palace Museum m AM we should know about the tea stuff included the quality of tea and people.
NO.3, WenZhengming(1470〜1559) Qing Yintesttea plans
Jiajing next 4 years in Ming Dynasty(1528), because meeting with Wang Zhaode who was born in Yixing, boiling the Yangxian tea, painted this picture for pairing up the tea-tasting and painting. So we also know about the host's feeling and pleasure when they were sitting at relative orientation. There is a seven-character lines poem, what the "sand vase" mentioned in the poem was pointed the Zisha teapot. Now, this painting collected in Switzerland, see it in the book of The Art of Wen Zhengming(1976).
Besides these, you also can check the tea vessels in the Tea-tasting Scroll collected by the Palace Museum in Beijing, the scroll of Fried Tea among the Forest which collected by the Art Museum of Tianjin.
NO.4, Qiu Ying(?〜1559) Talking about Paintings among the Pine and Stream
There are two men, the host and guest, sitting on a plain old as case of heavy stone and talking. They are discussing earnest, according to the teapot with a loop handle at their lateral and kept a distance, a lonely boy is watching the vase on the furnace between the old trees and an another squatter washing and pumping, master tea activity seems to have ended. Presently collected by the Museum of Jilin Province.
NO.5, Wang Wen(1497～1576) Boiling Tea Scroll
An old man sitting in front of the bamboo &mace, pay kite of attention to the pot with loop handle, a furnace put in front of the furnace. Two big jars are putting behind him. Wang Wen set the furnace in front of die rectangle blanket, on which the books, ink-slab, water container and censer are putting.This kind of life scene maybe the scene of painter's life. Since the painted tea sets were belong to the Jiajing, Wanli Period in Ming Dynasty definitely. This painting collected by the Palace Museum in Beijing presently.
NO.6, Chen Hongshou(1598~1652), High Schoolar Reading Books Scroll
An old man sitting up in front of the table which made by vast rocks, pointing the book with his right figures and reading absorbedly. The other old man is sitting at the opposite side of table and listening to his reading carefully. At the top of table, there is a plum blossom, a teapot with flat bottom and cover is putting in front of the flower. On the other top of the table, there is a jar with three feet, seemed like used for heating. This painting is collected by the famous collector and connoisseur Mr. Wang Jiqian.
These above-mentioned six paintings, we could not make sure the tea sets belong to the Yixing purple clay kilns, but according to the the shape compare with the extant purple clay teapot, they got striking resemblances. What we call "resemblances", it should be existed dialectical two likelihood, one is the sample for the later product of Zisha teapot, the other is that exist the purple clay teapot in the paintings, but only without any explanations. Hence, if we want to recognize the true teapot, we should start with the authentics, because it will harder than you did not know about how the authentic should like be. Now, let us begin with the raw materails, craftwork, decorations and famous work, to make us can judge the fake.