1. About the origin of the Yixing purple clay tea pot.
Yixing,a picturesque city,is located on the Taihu Lake in Jiangsu province, China. The city is famous for its rich resources and outstanding talents. Among the products,ceramics are the most famous. Based on the textual and archaeological researches, in the Neolithic Age as far as 5000 years ago,the forefathers of Yixing were engaged in the farming and the pottery marking. Some ruins of ancient pottery workshops and kilns in Yixing Ding Shu town have always been found in recent years. There are 5 neolithic site(5000 years ago),3 Han Dynasty Kiln site(Before206-A.D.220), 3 Six Dynasty Kilns(A.D.420-A.D581),9 Sui Dynasty,Tang Dynasty kilns(A.D.581-A.D.907),20 Song Dynasty,Yuan Dynasty kilns(A.D.960-A.D.1368).60 Ming Dynasty,Qing Dynasty kilns(A.D.1368-A.D.1911).One of the Tang Dynasty's Dragon Kiln,located in the east of Ding Shu Town, it is 700 square metres ,80 stere and has fire ware ability. Yixing purple clay tea pots were produced base on a long pottery tradition in Yixing.
Another important diathesis ,Yixing is a famous tea area in ancient China,one kind of Yixing tea (the Yun Wu Tea) was the tribute tea during early Tang Dynasty. The total quantity is over 5000 kgs. During Tang Dynasty, there are ten thousands tea workers picking tea every year, over 30 tea factories.The most famous tea master Lu Yu used to visit Yixing for enjoying the Yixing tea regularly at that time.
The most important diathesis is that the rare purple clay was found in the mountains of Ding Shu Town in Yixing. The purple clay has very unusual characteristic ,it is the best material for tea pot in the world. In 1976,one of the Song Dynasty Dragon Kilns was found on the Yang Jiao mountain of Ding Shu town, together with many fragmentary of purple clay teapots.(img.left).
It is also affirmed by the Song dynasty poem. Some Song Dynasty's poems mentioned purple clay tea pot, so it is approved that Yixing purple clay tea pot was produced since middle Song Dynasty. However, some specialists believe it was produced in Ming Dynasty. Mr. Zhou Gao Qi, one writer lived in Ming Dynasty, the author of 'Yang Xian Tea Pot series',(PS:Yixing was called "Yang Xian" in ancient) specially described the originate and the technology features of Yixing purple clay tea pot, and the purple clay material.
For the origins of the purple clay tea pot, he mentioned 'A bare foot monk who lives in JingSha temple in DingShu interests in studying pottery with potters. He creates some simple and unique tea pots with purple clay for his own interests. (PS: There are many temples inancient China, many monks who lived there were drinking tea with a bowl. The tea pot ishard to find during that period)
A learned man named WuYuShan came to Jing Sha temple for study. His servant Gong Chun accompanied him. Gong Chun has been learning to make the purple clay tea pot with the monk in his spare time. He imitated the burl of an old tree in the temple and made a unique pot, which is the famous 'Gong Chun Pot'. Many researchers believe it is the first purple clay tea pot in its true sense.
(PS: This pot iscollected inChina History Museum noww. cover has been lost during the war and was added by Qing Dynasty Craftwork Master Wang YuLing. )