The main point in appraising a pot's ornamental value is its combination of artistic and practical values. It is confortable to touch and durable in use. Its handle is perfectly balanced. it is perfectly sturdy, the opening and the lid should be ornamental in themselves, and the tea should flow steadily when poured from the pot. A pot with ornamental value will be pleasing to touch and to see. The pleasure it bring stimulates beauty from the heart and bring forth happiness.
-Master He Daohong was born in 1943 and started his art life with Wang YinChun in 1958.
Meeting with He Daohong, National Craft Master. Part 2 of 3
We can categorize pots according to their design. The shape of the round pot has to be clean and simple, showing the qualities of smoothness, honesty and sincerity. One must never be able to tire of looking at it. The spout and the handle must join on to the body smoothly and with luster. The lid must fit tightly and its motion must not be sluggish. The inner wall of the pot must be smooth and neat. Decorative painting and calligraphy on the pot should have unity with the pot; they should enrich the beauty of the pot without detracting from the pot's simple, natural art. The size of the seal should be proportionate to the pot and the lid, and should be decorative, not just an inscription.
The square pot should be upright, balance and square. It should have distinct edges and outlines. The spout and lid should be in proportion to the body. The inner and outer lines of the pot should be unified, presenting the viewer with a neat and natural effect. The moulded pot should be based on an unusual and not conventional source, combining visual beauty and tactile pleasure. The colour must be suitable, and the spout and handle must be properly combined. The lid and the opening of the pot must be skillfully matched.
In corrugated-surface pots, the pattern of the lines must be graceful and lively, and the lid and the opening must be tight-fitting with the lines on the lid matching those on the body. The curves between the spout and the handle should be flowing and show and orderly beauty.
The final colour of the pot is also important. It will determine the quality of the pot and also the degree of its calmness.
Meeting with He Daohong, National Craft Master. Part 1 of 3
The Art of yixing pottery has a long history in which many artists played a part. They created many types of pots, of varying standards and levels. Teapot-making helps to influence and develop one's character and provides one with spiritual insight. How do we distinguish between the good and the bad and place an artistic value on a work? I would summarize in three points:
1. Visual Beauty - The primary value of the pot is visual beauty. An appropriate design must have suitable proportions which give pleasure to the eye. One must be able to see the solidity and strength imparted by the artist, and an elegance of style offering the viewer melodic beauty and artistic imagination. The theme of the pot must be outstanding offering the viewer assistance in seeking spiritual insight.
Brushing is important only when using a flat top or larger lid pot. Since the water/tea will not evaporate as fast on a leveled surface, spreading the liquid all around with brush will speed up the "drying" action.
Pot craftsman might scarify the function with overall beauty, so we have to learn the behavior of each collectable. Some tricks may apply to the practices, eg.
1. Angling the lid and pouring water onto it: This method of pouring will heat up the lid more and cool the water temp. Meanwhile, extra water will accumulate less on the surface. For puerh or aged oolong brewing, this "delicate pouring" will soften the property of the liquor, since hot water will not hit/attack the leaves directly (it really makes a different). This pouring method is prefer by seasoned tea drinker.
2. Simply pour the liquor out 90 degree, and all liquid inside-out will drip dry.
No matter how good you master the brushing of the top, bottom area will always be troubling. Like this rounded bottom fellow (pic. below), you can see the darken circle tea spot at the center. The only way is to polish after usage and let dry.
I usually use 2 pots when "feeding". One with hot water for brewing, and the other for brewing tea. These "One stone, Two birds" style can speed up the patina action. Specially for large pot.
I just cannot use such large pot without guests. They get store in their little place and look pretty sad.
This is the largest pot I have in the above picture. Pouring the rinse or left over tea over the pot filled with hot water, is the best way to feed/use them. With the steam evaporating from it when feeding, this method can add mood, aroma to the tea space and keep track of brewing time when watching the surface absorb the liquor. Of course if you know them well.
Make sure you polish them after usage with a soft cloth, and while they are still hot.
Yixing are great for planting also, specially for Chinese grass orchids (which have small white flowers and the most majestic fragrance in China). Or for water dropper, brush painting vessels etc. Because the breathing quality of the clay, the liquid which it contains will not go bad easily.
These are a couple of yixing snuff bottles from Qing, which they are great for putting flowers in them and they will last longer.
A Turn-of-the-Century Yixing. Thru good care and usage, the surface of the pot will turn into visual characteristic of Jade. A "Treasure Glow" in Chinese term. But you can always see the original stage of the pot from the interior wall.
Aging DC is almost the same as aging Wuyi SX. The older, the better.... At least for the result of my tasting. Originally, I expect to conclude this in 2 days for 3 samples, but due to overloaded newly marriage duties eg: cleaning house, cleaning pets, and a clean personal cking acc., I have to work overtime to regain my "better life" statues.
Anyhow, I found the 2 years aged DC is the best amount the 1, 2 and 3 years period. I did not vacuum any of these, just jared them and store it in the dark with 50-75% Hum. and around cellar temp.
The 1st year crops still have sign of veg. and hint of fire with all the DC character. The third year developed a smoother condensed honey sweeties, but without the lively oil and did not come back to the youthful, floral character as the 2nd one did. The Second 2 years aging is just right. I bet is related to storage problem. If I vacuum seal them. The 3rd year will have all the youth and smoothness of an old SX character, plus the intoxicated DC aroma, I think. Still have some 5 years vacuum sealed DC. Unfortunately, I can not trace the farm or altitude of this specimen, but will give it a try later for comparison.