Flambe glazed Yixing ware

Started by carlyoung, Mar 12, 2017, 08:18:08

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Just bought this piece and would like to know a little about it , I have little knowledge of Monochromes and Yixing ware as I find them hard to date , I don't know if it is Chinese or Japanese and the black mark is strange .

Approx 4.5 inch tall , probably a censer .

Apologies for the pictures , I will post better ones , especially of the base if needed as i think the mark is upside down.



Any Yixing product is made with Zicha. They say that other zicha clay made outside of Yixing (even other parts of China) is not consider Zisha. So there cannot be any Japanese Yixing. So we rule out Yixing Japanese. I have seen some modern Chinese pieces like this on eBay. I don't know what the mark says but this piece looks so new. Only Thing I know is that 100% of the Yixing ware has this carved mark of the store and some times the artist. This one is stamped. So I don't know... Lol. Those types of ware are out of my range and probably most people.


My understanding is that zisha or real zisha type clay can never be spun on the wheel I believe due to the density of the clay.  If it can be spun, it's a different type of clay.  That's one way to identify between e.g. a yixing teapot versus a chaozhou teapot, that has been spun on a wheel.


Thanks for the comments.

Yixing and monochrome ware's are so difficult for a beginner , and I go and but a mixture of the two.


>clay made outside of Yixing (even other parts of China) is not consider Zisha. So there cannot be any Japanese Yixing. So we rule out Yixing

I have a remark regarding this. Due to depletion of some clay mines in the Yixing area some mines stopped producing already quite some time ago. There were news that such clay was found somewhere northeast or east of Peking. It is very likely that the clay will be shipped down to Yixing, as most factories and craftsmen are located there.
Further, I doubt that items name with Yixing would be named differently, even if the clay is sourced elsewhere, not as long as the clay is similar. As a fact that the location name "Yixing" is used mainly in the west, not in China. They call them just zisha, zhusha, etc., meaning the type of clay and not the place name.


Another tip is that modern yixing clay is usually mixed by machine these days, so the consistency of the clay is supposed to be much more even than pre-80s older pots.  But yes, clays like Zhuni supposedly were long depleted since the 1960s.  While some of the great craftsman may still have some in storage, since I believe you are suppose to age the clay anyways, works go for hundreds if not thousands now, even if they are new.

My understanding is also when the state factories closed down in the 80s-90s, supposedly each of the factory's great artisans got a certain quantity of clay, for "retirement". 


That's interesting. I wonder if they still use toxic self-made clay, or if they have started using the northern variety yet.


The black mark is unusual for me , seen this on some higher quality older Chinese pieces (hand written)and lots of Japanese pieces , it looks stamped as there is what looks like smudging to one of the corners .

The characters look a touch freely done , leading me to either Chinese independent studio pieces or Japanese .

Most modern pieces I see circa 1980 onward seem to be transfer printed and not stamped?



Definitely not an expert on this stuff... 

Not sure what you mean by toxic clay.  The bright colored "yixing" clays are definitely toxic, same with the ones that look like they have a coating of shoeshine.  All of those are fake.  The other cheaper yixing clay shouldn't have at least lead in them, since the temperatures needed to fire them is much higher than the melting temp for lead.  Not sure about other hard metals though.  Although I seem to recall reading someone's test, where he took cheaper yixing teapots and had them do a chemical assay on them, finding that there weren't any dangerous trace metals in them. 

Although certain clay mines have been pretty much depleted and have through out hundreds of years, there are supposed to be plenty of other yixing clay mines out there.  The clay's chemical composition and color of course would be different, but my understanding is that there really isn't any worry yet that there will be no more yixing clay supply in the future. 


There were news reports a couple of years ago (from Chinese media), that they concocted something out of other clay, making it look like the Yixing clay. But it was dyed with chemicals and the whole was toxic, possibly carcinogenic, if I remember right. I mentioned that somewhere on the main site.

That is why I recommend noto to buy/used Yixing wares from the past 20 years or so. The people here whom I have asked mostly seem to use only older tea pots.

Unfortunately, that is only one of several poisonous products made in China in the last two decades. We have even heard of toxic jeans, possibly also caused by the dye?


Yeah.  I've heard that sometimes some more unscrupulous makers would use glass and other stuff in their pots to make it appear to be higher fired, since one of the ways to test a pot is see how high good the resonance is when you tap the side with the lid. 

The good thing is that the cheap clay types that are likely to poisonous are also the same type of pots that won't be well crafted, and well frankly look cheap, and somewhat gaudy, and sometimes even smells.  So that helps somewhat in picking and choosing pots. 

The older pots are sought after because supposedly, back in the days factory 1 pots, e.g. always just used the best clay regardless, so even a pedestrian made type pot would still have good quality clay, despite all the leaks, and not being exactly airtight.  They used to even use the yixing clay to make flower pots.  Nowadays, out of the 100s of pots people see, less than 1% would probably actually be from the 60s despite what people say.  There's just so many counterfeits out there, that if a person doesn't have someone to guide them, at first, then there's going to be some very expensive mistakes out there. A lot of those pots are also in SE Asia and Taiwan.  My understanding is back in the 80s Taiwanese buyers went crazy buying up the whole market, and also buying unfired clay to make their own pots as well. 


Well the piece arrived today . the first thing I noticed was the weight , very heavy for a yixing piece until i closely inspected the base and foot rim  to find out that it is not actually Yixing , it is stoneware with a brown glaze wash to make it look like Yixing.

The mark is still puzzling me but I think we can safely say a very modern piece.

Thanks for the informative and educational debate.



You are quite right carlyoung. Yixing wares with color glazes applied do not usually have a transparent glaze over the bottom or other non-colored parts. BTW, Yixing wares are considered stoneware. Further, marks on items like this would more often than not be carved or impressed; this one looks as if it was stamped. The characters are blurred, but the one in the right lower corner could be the simplified Chinese character for 'kiln' (?).  That would make it 1960s or later.
The shape itself resembles somewhat the old containers used as a spittoon or for discarding used tea leaves.