Yixing Pottery 

By: Lindsay Farr 

Translation: Coral Guan and Boyi Cheng

Production of Zisha (local clay or “purple sand”) pottery in Yixing, Jiangsu province, China, began in the Song dynastyprospered through the Ming dynasty, and reached spectacular heights of design and craftsmanship during the Qing dynasty. Potters were prolific and the highest skills were applied to the making of teapots. 

Yixing’s imaginative Zisha productivity continued through the 20th century until the 1936 Japanese invasion during which the majority of Yixing’s master potters either fled or perished. Centuries of ceramic culture were lost after kilns were destroyed. 

During the early years of the founding of new China, the Jiangsu Provincial Government established a new Zisha pottery factory and appointed seven technical coaches: Ren Ganting, Pei Shimin, Wu Yungen, Wang Yinchun, Zhu Kexin, Gu Jingzhou, and Jiang Rong. Their task was to teach selected apprentices in the making of Zisha teapots. These potters are known as the Seven Old Masters”. 

The egalitarian nature of these times required the “Seven Old Masters” to collect and process their own clay and to make flowerpots as well as teapots. 

Yixing Number One Factory (current name: Jiangsu Yixing Zisha Factory) prospered and started exporting wares around the globe. By the mid-1960s, the Cultural Revolution was already taking hold but the quality and productivity of Yixing Number One Factory continued its rise.

By the mid-1970s, the apprentices were becoming masters and the exquisite ware reached new heights of quality. However, during this period pot makers were forbidden to mark their creations, although some still dared to stamp their pots. These marked pots are now considered highly valuable.  

Following the Australian trade agreement with China in the mid-1970s, shipments of teapots, flowerpots, and bonsai pots started arriving on our shores. 

Yixing pottery remains highly sought after, especially those produced by the “Seven Old Masters”. A teapot by Gu Jingzhou, considered among the greatest Chinese potters of the 20th centuryrecently sold for two million US dollars. 


撰写:Lindsay Farr


中国江苏省宜兴市的紫砂陶器生产始于宋代,盛于明代,其设计和工艺水平在清朝时期达到顶峰。宜兴紫砂产量丰富, 而陶工们也将他们的精湛技艺应用于茶壶制作当中。