Many categories of bamboo in Yixing such as moso bamboo, pale bamboo, hard bamboo, orange bamboo,etc. People always thought plant bamboo was better than plant some flowers in the old time, so it formed a bamboo ocean at here. The bamboo always has closely related to the daily life in the bamboo town, people love bamboo, eating bamboo, live on bamboo, so it is nature that they use the bamboo pattern decorate the teapot.
The earliest records on bamboo pattern teapot in the historical datas was Famous Pottery Records of Yangxian which written by Wu Qian in Qianlong Period of Qing Dynasty. But it was difficult to engage in textual research on what the shape looked like. The true purple clay bamboo pattern teapot should be earlier than the records.
In these best-known teapot, a bunch bamboo pattern roundish teapot which collected by the Ruoguixiang Teaware Museum in HK is the earliest purple clay bamboo pattern teapot, there is an inscription as "made by Chen Zhongmei in Wanli Period (AD1613)".
The developments and evolution of purple clay bamboo pattern teapotin these four hundred years created some typical modelling categories, first, natural style teapot which imitated the shape of true bamboo in the nature; second, nature shape combined with geometry design which inserted some bamboo joint or bamboo leaf pattern on the parts of teapot body; third, bamboo joint variation teapot which changed the shape of bamboo joints and reworked; fourth, using the bamboo leaf formed a teapot which was not so realism as conceptualizing the concepts; fifth, making teapot based on the archetype of bamboo.
Natural style teapots
The natural style teapot always the favourite shape of people. According to the materials at hand, it started from Chen Zhongmei. He lived during Wanli Period in Ming Dynasty and Shunzhi Period in Qing Dynasty, he was born in Wuyuan, made porcelain in Jingdezhen, then he went to Yixing and changed to making purple clay teapot. His work were imitated the nature, and he was good at making these, as well as combined the technique of making porcelain and making purple clay wares together, extended the expressivity of arts of purple clay teapot. The bunching bamboo roundish teapot which collected by the Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware in HK adopted the natural shape of bamboo, belong to the realism style, a bunch of bamboo connected together and formed an interesting and perfect shape.
* Exquisite eight-bamboos teapot, Qianlong Period in Qing Dynasty, without inscriptions, collected by Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware in HK. The modelling and decoration are similar to the shape of early-Qianlong Period. Eight bamboo joints formed the pot body, the bamboos were hollow out within bamboo leaf them and thin, as well as the flow-mouth, handle, button all got the same shape. The whole style added decorative effects based on the realism.
* Bunch of bamboo Bagua and Tai Chi teapot, this one belonged to the Shao Daheng's works who was later than Chen Zhongmei for two hundred years. This teapot was instituted by 64 length of bamboos, standed for the 64 Gua. It came from the ancient I Ching-The Book of Changes, this book came from the divinatory symbols and it is the Tai Chi Bagua, "Taiji" is a technical term from Chinese traditional philosophy, it contains sky and earth, day and night, sun and moon, male and female, etc, translating as "origin of the universe" and "supreme and unique".
The natural shape teapots in Daoguang Period, Qing Dynasty were always composed by branches and joints into a single body, such as one joint, two or three joints, square or round. It always got small bamboo details on the flow-mouth, handle, button, sticked some bamboo leaf and branches, as the good feeling of artistic conception. Feng Guilin and Zhu Kexin later were the famous potters, they made the same style naturally and vividly.
* Bamboo joints teapot, Daoguang Period in Qing Dynasty, Yangshi made, this one is extremely simple, plain and clean, a little exaggerate management on the details, it is wonderful on the managements of mouth, button and handle, casual and free natural shape and the cogent assembles all tell us that the maker's marvellous techniques and his sense of beauty.
* Happiness living in summer teapot, Modem time, Lu Wenxia made. Lu studied art crafts with Mr.Xu Xiutang, he always makes pot with the bamboo shape as design subject matter, forms dozens of patterns. He has a defined e.
Natural shape combined with geometry design teapots - bamboo joints
It should be a little earlier when the natural shape combined with geometry design teapot appeared. From ancient works, we know several pieces of work have had the mature style in Qianlong Period, Qing Dynasty.
* Bamboo joints teapot with stringcourse, Qianlong Period in Qing Dynasty. There are inscriptions carved on the shoulder and belly of teapot, "made in Qianlong Period in Qing Dynasty". The decoration of this one was multitudinous, with the circle pattern inscripts, modelling narcissus petals pattern, sticking the Ruyi pattern, clay painted and sketched characters, carved the running script, etc. The exquisite modelling and managements make this work become the typical style and model in teapots of Qing Dynasty.
* Bamboo joints teapot with loop handle, Qianlong Period in Qing Dynasty, Chen Yinqian made. This one can stand for the typical work of the natural shape combined with geometry design teapot. High and straight loop handle, flow lines and sides, they are harmonious and changeful. The loop handle, flow-mouth, button and stringcourse line are all the shape of bamboo branch.
* Red clay pine, bamboo, plum flower pattern six-sides teapot, Qianlong Period in Qing Dynasty. This one is six-sides shape the low-mouth is bamboo joints, pasted a bamboo leave at the root part of the flow-mouth, the button and handle is pine and prune. Because of the cleaning and simplicity of the pot body, it looked like need to be repaired, but it keeps the traditional style of Jiaqing Period in Qing Dynasty.
* Fencai (famille rose) landscape bamboo joint teapot, Jiaqing Period in Qing Dynasty. With an inscription as "Han Treasure". Painted landscape on the purple clay teapot is a new decoration at this time. The landscape got a elegant realm, villages set in the mountains, boats floating on the waters, it is a good place for study and retire. The button is toad but with three feet, why do the toad lack of one foot? Because three feet toad is the divine animal which used for Faerie Liu Hai sitting, it could be able to add the wealth to human being. The flow-mouth, handle, stringcourse are bamboo joints shape, nature and vividly.
Bamboo joint variation teapots
This type of teapot is a kind of variation base on the imitating true bamboo's shape.
* Bamboo joints roundish teapot, Guangxu Period in Qing Dynasty, Zhao Songting made. This teapot changed the compressed roundish pot body into foursquare comer, the belly is curl horizontal and straight vertical, similar to the rip pattern. Convergent underbelly and the bottom, corresponding to the shoulder, with soft lines. The flow-mouth, handle, stringcourse are bamboo joints shape.
* Foursquare bamboo joints roundish teapot, Late-Qing Dynasty and early-Republic of China Period, Fan Dasheng made. This shape is well developed, imposing manners, the pot body used the bamboo joint variation, the flow-mouth, handle, stringcourse are bamboo joints shape, it belonged to the typical shape of Qing Dynasty teapots, with improvements and changes base on the traditional teapot arts. The modeling technique is much better than elderships.
Using the bamboo leaf formed teapots
This type was inlightened by the Chinese inscribed bamboo-slips.
* Inscribed bamboo-slips teapot, modern time, Li Hongchang and Shen Suihua made. The inscribed bamboo-slips was an old form of books in ancient times. Ancestor did not have any papers, so they carved characters on the bamboo chips, chained them together in series to became to book. Maker was in lightened by this style of books, he assembled the bamboo-slips into shape of teapot, the mouth and cover are round, the button is bamboo joint pattern. There is an inscription as "catch the friends of Pang Juan" the maker wanted to advice the drinker and his peers not to be jealous and envious of capable persons, it can be considered as do with attention and hardship. This style of teapot is new unique and elegant, and it won the pride of the gold prize in the international fair in Leipzig in 1984.
Four shapes of teapot in this context although had different change, but they all used the same manufacture technique. The decorative methods include modeling, pricking, clay painting, color painting,carving, sculpturing, hollow-out carving, pasting, inlaying, etc. It is different on expressive bamboo joints and details which made by different makers in different time, some are exquisite, some are crude, all of them keeping the aesthetic traces of that time more or less.