Records show that the birthplace of the very first teapot was a city called Yixing, in China’s Jiangsu Province, about 120 miles northwest from Shanghai. A monk made what is known to be the world’s very first unglazed ceramic teapot (“zisha” teapot). Over centuries of trading and cultural exchange, the teapot became widely used in the Far East and many Western countries ever since.
For centuries, tea lovers in China have preferred the “zisha” teapot. A well-made “zisha” teapot that has been used to brew excellent tea for years develops its own unique characteristics and can intensify the flavour of every brew it produces. Collectors adore antique teapots not only for their elegant silhouette, but also for their decorative details. Inspired by ancient Chinese culture, artists often etch a poem or paint a miniature scene on the body of the teapot, making it a real pleasure to behold and use. Zisha teapots are appraised for many factors: their city of origin, history, maker, as well as any awards they may have garnered in the past.
China is literally in love with the art of teapots. You can watch the passion and enthusiasm of collectors at vintage teapot auctions in Hong Kong or in mainland China. This past summer, China Guardian Auctions Co Ltd auctioned off a 1948 Yixing Zisha teapot for nearly 2 million US dollars. The elegant Ming Style “Stone Weight” teapot by Gu Jingzhou with incised decoration by Wu Hufan is officially the world’s most expensive Zisha teapot. This October, Sotheby’s Hong Kong will be auctioning a superb and extremely rare Beijing Enamel Gold Teapot and Cover Mark from the Yongzheng period. If you are interested, please call Sotheby’s Hong Kong (Tel. +852 2524 8121). Many collectors believe that coming across a lovely vintage teapot is in the hands of fate, and to be able to have one is a joy greater than its enduring value.
All the Tea in China
China Fall 2010