Jianshui ceramics, Yunnan
Jianshui Zitao 建水紫陶 - «坚如铁、明如水、润如玉、声如磬» - «hard as iron, clear as water, bright as jade, and sound like qin».
Qing Qi 青瓷, light green ceramics, has been produced in Jianshui County in Yunnan since the time of the Song Dynasty. Mainly simple shaped home ceramics were made that time and it had been ornamented in time. During the Ming dynasty Cu Zi pottery 粗瓷 was produced. Zi Tao 紫 陶 purple pottery has been produced since the Qing Dynasty after Yixing ceramics had been widely used not only in China, but also far beyond. Zitao ceramics of Jianshui got an award at the Panama exhibition in 1921. And in 1953 Jianshui ceramics were presented on a par with the works of the masters of Yixing, Sichuan Rongchang 荣昌 and Guangdong Shiwan 石湾 at the Chinese National Art Exhibition.
The People's Republic of China State Council issued a decree on granting the status «intangible cultural heritage» of the second degree 非 物质 文化遗产 to the Jianshui ceramics in July 2008. It increased the investment attractiveness of small private factories and gave them a way to development and prosperity.
The works of the famous master Chen Shao Kang 陈绍康, the deputy director of the Jianshui ceramics factory, have been honored many times with national and international awards. As a part of cultural exchange Zitao ceramic collection has been exhibited at the Louvre in 2012.
The raw materials deposits or Tao Ni 陶 泥 are concentrated in the Wutaishan 五彩 山 «Five-colored mountain». Here the white, purple and black clay is mined from the open pits. The peculiarity of the local clays is the high iron content, so the color palette after firing gives the predominantly dark - reddish-brown, brown, purple and black tints.
The raw material is crushed and dried, then soaked, washed and filtered as in other similar industries.
Teapots are formed by hand on the wheel. Ceramic molds are not used, even mass market products are manufactured on the wheel. The main decoration method is the carving on a wet clay and different color clay applications. The most popular patterns are natural motifs and ethnic designs. Finished products are mainly baked in a modern electric and gas kilns at temperatures up to 1300 ℃, but ancient «Dragon» kilns also exist.
After firing teapots are polished to a mirror finish using a grinding stones and abrasive pastes. This final operation differs Jianshui teapots from all others.
Laconic, unfussy shape and natural colors of Jian Shui Zi Tao ceramics create a mood of purity and tranquility, rustic simplicity and comfort. And the original radiant surface gives them a unique flavor of Yunnan, which will be appreciated by a true puer lovers!