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Full and oint Color Qing Dynasty Mixed Glaze Zisha

Text/photos: Yi Tao

Full Color

Just as the name implies, fill color involves fully covering a Zisha roughcast in various colors of glaze.It is further divided into five types of base color; back ground, green ground, blue ground, white ground, and quartered double-ground.

Black Ground Full Color

ground applies single-color black glaze as the base. There are few types of black glaze pieces. Of currently known pieces, the black ground dragon style is relatively common.

Green Ground Full Color

Green ground applies a light green glaze as the base. The light green color sets off other colors without stealing the spotlight, making it an excellent base color. Consequently, it is a popular choice among mixed color Zisha, A light green base is generally applied and supplemented by irregular floral patterns of dark green glaze. This standard glaze arrangement is commonly called "algae glaze" among collectors. Frequent decorative styles are largely based on a green glaze base with "open window" or belted main surface style, featuring a yellow, blue, white, or red coiled belt. They interact in a coiled cloud or "as you wish (ruyi)" fashion. The end result is a rich, colorful, and beautiful decorative style. Teapots covered entirely in algae-green glaze were also produced, but few examples have been passed down to present time.

Blue Ground Full Color

The glaze used in blue mixed glaze is a thick, sapphire blue that possesses magnificent energy. All current examples are arranged with a single-color blue base and many employ the same "open window" or belted main surface decoration used in green ground. Blue glaze full color employs another type of unique decoration. That is, atop the single-color blue glaze canvas, white glaze is used to display poetry or bamboo decoration. This is a strong artistic style with refined elegance that is highly prized by collectors.

White Ground Full Color

I personally believe that perhaps white is not easily able to serve as a foil allowing other colors to create a colorful atmosphere. As a result, very few pieces using white glaze as a base have been passed down. Because of their small numbers, they can also be considered a rare treasure.

Quartered Double Ground Full Color

This decorative style developed from square Zisha pots, applying two different glaze colors as the base for the four different surfaces. Its subject matter is rich and varied, providing multiple surfaces of decorative beauty. Most examples of this style are based on the "Han Fang" Pot type.

Point Color

As its name implies, this style adds color as an embellishment. The natural color of the Zisha clay is used as the base color over which multiple types of decorative glaze are applied. The visual effect of point color ceramics is entirely different from full color. Top-quality utensils feature straightforward and gentle Zisha surface texture and exquisite painted decoration. They emit abundant colors that mutually reflect and surge. Their magnificent quality inspires the highest praise.

Point color decoration can essentially be divided into three main styles: mountain and water color, blue and white color, and ring color.

Mountain and Water Colors

Most examples of this technique are from the early Qing Dynasty, They feature rich color and painting technique that is often of high quality. Mountain scenes are painted on the Zisha surface canvas. They depict the peaceful tranquility of nature and provide successful decorative subject matter.

Blue-White Color

This style applies relatively uniform colors, which are primarily divided into deep and light colors. Known examples span a significant time period ranging from the early Qing dynasty to the early Republic of China. Although early blue and white glaze is dominated by deep and light two-color blue glaze, it also applies supplementary red and white decoration. The painting technique is precise and fresh. Perhaps due to cost or perhaps to simplification of materials, later period blue and white glaze does not apply any decorative colors other man blue and white, The painting technique is also inelegant and of low-quality.

Ring Color

Ring style colored glaze clearly separates the plain pottery and the colored glazed. The decorative style is similar to the full color belted technique. It differs in that the original color of the pottery is used as a base. Fine examples of both full color and point color exist.

Another branch Republic of China Crackled White Full Color

In addition to the three major types of Zisha glazed ceramics, cloisonne, chun glaze, and mixed glaze, another type of teapot decoration from the Republic of China period applies crackled white glaze originally used on containers such as Chinese teacup and bowls. This decorative technique applies crackled white glaze to the full teapot body. Simple poetry is then painted on in a light blue glaze. The pots are fresh, refined, and rather elegant. It seems that this style was not favored by tea drinkers of the day, as very few were produced. It is similar to the white glaze full color style but not identical and is consequently presented here reference.

Time Period Analysis

Zisha craft gradually reached maturity at the end of the Ming Dynasty and developed vigorously during the reigns of the first three Qing Dynasty emperors. The utensils produced during these three generations are of the same general level, but the productions are closely bound to the prevailing social atmosphere and rise and fall in national strength. With China's decline in the Mid-Qing Dynasty, aside from the productions of a few masters, the quality of the Zisha pottery produced was not equal to that of earlier tinier Mixed glaze ceramics provide a glimpse at the pulse of an ear. The careful handiwork of the early Qing pieces is evident whether in terms of glaze color application, subject arrangement or painted style, Their exquisite beauty compares with the porcelain of Jingdezhen. (Photo 17) With the passage of time, the form remains but the spirit is gone. By dm late Qing and Republic of China, in terms of color and decoration productions are of low quality and not worth mentioning. This is also evident from the Materials used and level of handicraft. Jing Kang and Zhang Hong's Yang Xian Zisha Surrey from the Republic of China period states: "The bodies of glazed teapots are largely composed of loose sandy clay and dull color, glaze acts as a skin, and creates luster." This text, written during the Republic of China, indicates that the glazed utensils largely featured coarse and loose bodies and were of low quality. The glazed pots of the early Qing were largely created from the best quality clay! I am sure that the period contained an abundance of high-end pots. Later periods saw the sad decline of this flourishing artistic line, much like the setting of the sun. (photo 19)

Today, aside from historic reproductions, mixed glaze is not used in Zisha teapots. Zisha pottery is essentially simple and unsophisticated and derives its charm from clea elegance. Mixed glaze is incompatible with this modern viewpoint. The wheel or time is constantly turning, and the aesthetic perspective of each dynasty or period changes with the flow of time. Among the long history of Zisha craft, we are fortunate to be able to glimpse this beautiful expression of Yixing Zisha mixed glaze pottery. Perhaps the future will not a resurgence in this type craft, ,and it will be lost to the world. From the perspective of a collector and researcher of Zisha, these glazed decoration techniques are an extremely valuable artifact of history and should be treasured.