Wednesday, October 25, 2006, 11:55 AM3 men with guns rushed into a pu-erh store in TaiChung, Taiwan around 12:15pm yesterday(Oct/24). They tied up the store owner, Mr. Chen, and took away more than 10 pieces of antique (Hao and Yin)-grade pu-erhs and 30+ mushrooms on the shelves. The store owner offered to give them money, but the men said,
"No money, just want pu-erhs!"
Oh my Oh my... isn't it a sign that pu-erh market is over-heated!
Click to see the news (Chinese)
When we used to have a store in Montrose area/Houston, we had thought to buy insurance for all the goods. But later we decided it was the safest store anywhere in Houston: how can you imagine a gun-robbery in Houston:
"Don't move! I just want all your pu-erhs and yixings... Oh... that is a great Zhu Ni, oh man, that shrinkage lines. Woowww... Chi Tsi Xiao Huan Yin!"
Monday, October 16, 2006, 02:26 PM ( 65 views )
We often hear people saying that you should use only one yixing for one specific tea. While in no way I am a polygamist, I never follow the "one yxing - one tea" theory ^__^ Sure, I dedicate one yixing to one "kind" of teas, but never "one tea". For example, I love the fragrance and delicacy of High-mountain oolongs that a Zhu Ni teapot can smartly expresses. But for aged oolongs I use an Early R.O.C. no-seal wood-fired Zi Sha, which brings out the roundness and warmth of aged oolongs nicely and the appearance of the old little Zi Sha is just a right match to the impression of aged oolongs.
If the "one yixing - one tea" theory is true, those yixing collectors who pursue old/antique/seasoned yixings are out of their mind! Often, when you buy an old/seasoned yixing, the teapot comes with an old odor and plenty of old tea stains. I never worry about this, as several cleaning methods can get rid of those. In the ultimate case or for fine wares like Zhu Ni, I bring them to a local jewelry store to have them clean in the ultrasound device.
In the very important 17th century literature of yixing, "Yang Xian Ming Hu Si" (Yan Xian is the old name of "Yi Xing") by scholar Zhou Gao-Chi, it said, "If there is old odor in the teapot, fill the teapot with boiling water, pour out the water and immediately soak the teapot in a cool water bath, and pour out the cool water also immediately. The condition of the teapot is restored." (Note - I **don't** recommend this method on zhu ni wares, due to their large shringake/expansion rate).
So free yourself from the marketing agenda of "one yixing - one tea"! I would rather to have three good yixings for 10 different teas, instead of having 10 mediocre ones for 10 teas.
Friday, October 13, 2006, 04:47 PMEver since the established of Yixing #1 Factory in 1954, headed by Masters such as Gu Jing-Zhou, Jiang Ron, etc., potters that worked for the factory only supposed to produce for the factory. Private productions were not allowed. However, the following 10-year Cultural Revolution (1966~76) created havoc in the yixing industry and production was mostly halted. Tomakematter worse, they could not receive enough orders to keep every body busy as well. Towards the end of the Revolution, some famous potters tried to produce from their own home to earn additional income to support the living of their family. The factory knew the "illegitimate" activities, but understood it was inevitable as everybody just barely tried to survive.
Into the 80's, China started adapting the western-style Market Economy. It further encouraged the establishment of private studios. Fueled by the strong Asian economy since the 80's, pieces made of famous yixing artists can be easily worth over thousands US$. However, not everybody can afford the cost-you-an-arm-and-a-leg Master-made yixings, so from their studios they re-produce those Master pieces. The studios also serve the purpose for apprentices to learn directly from their masters.
Now, what are the differences between Master-made pieces and Studio pieces? I found some pictures from the Asian forum, http://www.potsart.com/forum/index.php, that give us great ideas:
Piece: 1985 National Grand Master Gu Shao-Pei, "Tian Long Din Zhu" (A Ball-chasing Dragon)
The Zi Sha one on the left is the genuine Gu's work, and the Hong Ni (red clay) one on the right is from his studio. Try to feel the difference in the "feeling" they give you. Feel it?
The Gu's work (price... no less than US$3,000) Note the vivid and dynamic feeling this piece expresses:
The studio piece. It feels not so "dynamic" as the piece above, right? Also note how the surface burnishing is different:
Detailed comparison of the craftsmanship of the "foot":
Studio pieces are often made following (okey... you can say "copying) the Master pieces by his/her apprentices. The Masters themselves oversee the productions and sometimes participate in some more tricky parts.
Buying Master-made pieces are extremely high-stake. In an everything-can-be-faked place like China, I have heard from several cases people find the "certificates" and "signatures" and "photos" that came with their Master-made pieces were all faked!
So we should appreciate the beauty of yixings using our eyes and hearts - if a piece is so pleasing to our sense, so what if it does not come with a "certificate"?
You can usully find studio pieces that are of great clay/craftsmanship (of coz, the above Hong Ni one I would not say "great craftsmanship"). Please don't confused them with "faked" pieces. Pieces like Zhou Quei-Zheng "Shi Piao" and Ho Yan-Ping "Yuan Gu" bear such high aesthetic quality that only Master's studios can achieve.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006, 01:19 PM ( 46 views )We just like to hear the knocking sounds of yixings and cannot get enough of them! I recorded several more for you:
Now we have heard quite a few different sounds from different yixings. Except being pleasing to our ears, what do they really reveal to us?
I will discuss my 2 cents in the next How to Select Yixings to Match Your Teas blog : )
Monday, October 9, 2006, 02:51 PM ( 25 views )This blog entry is for collecting our discussions of the tasting set:
Please feel free to post your tasting notes/comments/likes/dislikes in this entry.
I withhold my own opinions about the two samples so as not to bias your tasting experience : )