First in History: Yixing Teapots of TianQing Clay Found in US 清代天青泥紫砂壶首次被发现
-- George Wang, Ph.D., yixing.us(at)gmail.com
TianQing Ni or Clay has caught tea drinkers' imagination for many centuries and people no longer know what it is ever since it vanished during the end of the Qing dynasty. This article demonstrated for first time that three Yixing teapots of different shape and color made in the Qing dynasty fit perfectly with what has been described in the literature are therefore made of TianQing clay.
What IS TianQing Clay 什么是天青泥
TianQing Ni or clay is the most expensive and sought-after Zisha clay in the Qing and late Ming dynasty. However, what it really is still controversial, and it has not reached consensus as to which existing teapots were made of such clay. From the book "Sandy Purple Clay of YangXian" by Mr LIU Yulin, it belongs to the Purple clay category, and it has "dark liver" color after being fired. Furthermore, after being used for a while, it will turn greenish.
Screenshot of the book <<YanXian MingHuXi>> by ZHOU Gaoqi of Ming dynasty
I have a dark color teapot but not sure what kind of clay it has. After being soaked in water for a week, it suddenly turned greenish. This reminds me it might be TianQing clay. I immediately sent the pictures to Mr. LIU Yulin and got positive answer from him. He also sent me back a closeup picture of TianQing clay. This is exactly what I saw with my teapot under magnification glass.
Picture taken after dry-up of usage . Notice its shiny jade-like appearance
picture showing particles of TianQing clay, from Mr LIU Yulin, author of the book《阳羡茗砂土》。 图片来自《阳羡茗砂土》 作者刘玉林先生
By comparison, a teapot previously considered made of "Republic green" clay should also made of TianQing clay. It clearly developed a satiny sheen after only a few day's usage.
Bamboo Yixing Teapot JingYuanZhai JichangZhi mark of TianQing Clay清康熙静远斋继长制天青泥竹段壶
Kangxi Reign of Qing dynasty (1662-1722). It changes color and has variations of colors, characteristic of TianQing Clay. JingYuanZhai is the residence name of the 17th son 允礼 of the Kangxi Emperor.
What's interesting with this teapot is that there are a few Purple areas with this Green teapot , likely the effect of the TianQing Clay. This is exactly as what ZHOU Gaoqi of Ming dynasty said in his book "it shows a bizarre effect after firing".
My 3rd teapot of likely TianQing clay is the one made by YANG Pengnia. This one currently has a dark liver color and most likely has never been used.
In total, I have a total of 3 teapots which are mostly likely of TianQing clay: the YANG Pengnian has dark liver color, the SHAO Hengyu is greenish after water soaking, the SHI Jichang is greenish with a round area of purple color. Apparently all 3 of them were made in the Qing dynasty.
In total, I have a total of 3 teapots which are mostly likely of TianQing clay:Teapot by YANG Fengnian (The sister of YANG Pengnian). The two pictures shows the same teapot. The first pictures doesn't look like TianQing clay. But the second picture does.
the YANG Pengnian has dark liver color, the SHAO Hengyu is greenish after water soaking, the SHI Jichang is greenish with several purple areas. Apparently all 3 of them were made in the Qing dynasty.
Teapot by YANG Fengnian (The sister of YANG Pengnian). The two pictures shows the same teapot. The first pictures doesn't look like TianQing clay. But the second picture does.
We believe the teapot above made by YANG Fengnian of Qing dynasty is likely of TianQing clay.
What is NOT TianQing Clay 什么不是天青泥
All over the internet, most people wrongly put Republic green as TianQing clay. In fact, the mines have exhausted TianQing clay in the Qing dynasty. Anyone who is selling freshly made TianQing clay teapots are either ignorant or scams.
Republic Green. Not TianQing clay 朱可心民国绿提梁壶
In Summary 总结
TianQing clay is so rare and precious, it can be safely said that if the teapot sells below $10k, it is not TiqnQing clay.
Characteristics of TianQing clay:
1) It vanished in late Qing dynasty (it is better to think this way to avoid scams)
2) After firing, it has dark liver color
3) Feel and look very sandy, extreme permeability (so permeable that it gets wet outside when being used), and very easy to produce Zisha appeal.
4) After usage it become very shiny and has a satiny sheen, can turns greenish when it is wet and look like green jade -- therefore the term "Jade of Zisha" with astonishing beauty.
5) It can shows a bizarre effect after firing (notice the color variations with the Bamboo teapot)
There are reason why it is so precious and has rampant scams -- It is rare and beautiful (like any other things in the world)
刘玉林，戴银法 《阳羡茗砂土》，四川美术出版社, 2013:84-88