Friday, April 17, 2009

Mang Sheng pots and The Silver Lotus Cups

Back in the days, cups with floral pattern inside were used for tea. Wine cups are mostly pain or with abstract patterns.
So these silver lotus cups are for the enjoyment of tea as Scott and Trent pointed out, the silver quality adds brightness to the steeps. It's interesting to know, back in Tang (618-907) Dynasty or even earlier, tea connoisseurs already studied the changes of vessels’ materials effecting tea characteristics.

The more interesting discovery is, the cup on the left hand side is an imitation of the right hand side. Right side is an original Silver Lotus sets with hand hammered patterns from Tang, and the Left side is a Ming (1368-1644) dynasty replica.

Ones must wonder, how could one vessel be copied and reproduced the same way for over 700 years and 3 main dynasties? By closer examination, even though the Tang's were made much earlier, the craftsmanship and techniques are much more refined and delicate than the later one.... Could these theories be applied to our beloved Zhuni MangSheng pots, or just older zhuni pots in general?

Real MangSheng in the early Qing dynasty was unique, small, refined and detail oriented. Every curves and proportion contrast are to perfection. The later Qing's copies were even more unified as mass production began, and the interiors of the pots were even cleaner (finishing). But imitations from later periods are coarse, rough and pretentious. Specially showing off muscle lines of the mixed clay. In my personal opinion, it's very juvenile.

Drawing back to these lovely silver lotus cups, I wonder, could I find another set of this made in the modern times? And would it be of a higher quality or even more commercial? Will keep on searching the answer....

Thanks you so much for all your participation, I do learn a lot from all of you, specially Ms. J's aesthete investigations. And I do believe in the ancient world, China was already a metropolis and melting pots of many culture: Western, African, Middle-Eastern. It's much more complex than a paragraph in a History text book or a google search for sure.

So, Congrats to Scott, who got the period and usage right. Please email me your address.


author said...

Beautiful! Thank you for this Tim!

I'm sure you are right about the complexity of the ancient world and the mixtures of cultures through China - as well as on that Silk Road that connected both yours and my ancestors!

Scott, congratulations. I believe we met at Chaikhana around Christmastime. (I'm the one who knows David W of Tillerman Tea, teacher of tea, guqin, painting, etc)


scotttea said...

Hello Mandarin's Tea,

Thank you for the wonderful tea tests! You wanted me to e-mail you my address. Alas, I do not know your e-mail but I am happy to give you mine so we can connect. It is I hope to hear from you soon and keep these wonderful quizzes coming. As a grad student, I'd rather take one of these any day over some of the "stuff" they throw my way ^_^
Additionally, hello Janine. Good to see you online and well. Odd to find each other online and in Chaikhana. For users of the web and avid drinkers of tea, one should know that Chaikhana is probably the most polar opposite from the at times impersonal realm of the internet. Alas, in tea we always seem to find the kindest of people, on the web and in a small shop like this.
Best to you both, Mandarin's Tea and Janine!

Votre Ami du Thé,

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