4 Famous Clays of China

In 1953, The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Chinese government classified Four Major Clays, they are Yixing Zisha, Qinzhou Nixing Clay, Jianshui Zitao, and Chongqing Rongchang Clay.

(Originally published April 12, 2020)

In 1953, The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Chinese government classified Four Major Clays, they are Yixing Zisha, Qinzhou Nixing Clay, Jianshui Zitao, and Chongqing Rongchang Clay.

Some of these clays, such as zisha (Yixing Clay), have enjoyed more attention. Each has its own history and uses. Below is a very brief description outlining the basic history, differences between these four famous clays, and what they are most often used for in China. 

Some of these clays, such as zisha (Yixing Clay), have enjoyed more attention. Each has its own history and uses. Below is a very brief description outlining the basic history, differences between these four famous clays, and what they are most often used for in China.

Some of these clays, such as zisha (Yixing Clay), have enjoyed more attention. Each has its own history and uses. Below is a very brief description outlining the basic history, differences between these four famous clays, and what they are most often used for in China.

Nixing Teapots displaying their characteristic yaobian.

Nixing Teapots displaying their characteristic yaobian.

Nixing teaware being wheeled by an artist.

Nixing teaware being wheeled by an artist.

Benshan lüni Yixing Teapot. Zisha such as lüni is quite porous and has good heat retention.

Benshan lüni Yixing Teapot. Zisha such as lüni is quite porous and has good heat retention.

Jianshui zitao with colorful clay inlaid design.

Jianshui zitao with colorful clay inlaid design.

Rongchang Nijinghuo Vases.

Rongchang Nijinghuo Vases.

Rongchang Youzihuo with glaze over the clay.

Rongchang Youzihuo with glaze over the clay.

Unlike the other clays on this list, Yixing zisha gets a lot more attention. One of the reasons may be how diverse zisha, and the fired clay of Yixing Teapots, can be compared to jianshui and nixing clay. Besides the variety of subtypes of zisha which vary widely in color, texture, and the affect they have on tea (zhuni, zini, duanni, etc.), there is also the affect that processing and firing have on the finished wares (grain size and porosity). There isn’t as much to discuss when looking at jianshui zitao or nixing clay. However, both are also excellent clays for making teaware.