• Making Ruyao with Agate

    Agate, a form of quarts, is believed to be one of the key ingredients in Song Dynasty Ruyao, and was available in the area surrounding the kilns in Ruzhou. Today most true ruyao / fanggu ruyao use silica powder in lieu of agate since it has the same chemical formula - Si02 or silicon dioxide.  While the basic chemical formula is the same, the form of Si02 matters in terms of cost of sourcing and manufacturing. SiO2, whether from agate or silica, is the ingredient that gives ruyao its cloudy depth.
  • Ruyao: What's in a glaze?

    A beautiful sky blue glaze that is both shiny and cloudy gives ruyao its defining characteristic that is best described as “jade-like.” True ruyao or fanggu ruyao can be distinguished from cheap mass-produced factory “ruyao” by this characteristic, as well as by its composition and the steps in its manufacture.
  • Fanggu Porcelain

    Contemporary Jingdezhen porcelain owes its quality and appearance to generations of experimentation and adaptation, as well as to the retention of what is special and beautiful from earlier periods. This combination of tradition and innovation characterizes Jingdezhen porcelain. While retaining traditional techniques and patterns is important to the art of Jingdezhen porcelain, it is especially important to a specific class of Jingdezhen porcelain called “fanggu.”
  • Part 2: A Tour of a Ruyao Studio

    After finishing our interview, Mr. Lee offered to give me a tour of his studio, offering a glimpse into the production process. Here are some photos of his studio.
  • Part 1: An Interview with a Ruyao Master

    This April, while the people around us were busy with the spring tea harvest, we made a visit to Mr. Lee Shanming’s (李善明) studio, Shan Kiln 善窑, in Jingdezhen to see his new spring products, and to take some photos back with us for our blog. Lee Shanming is our featured Ruyao artist. All of the Ruyao Teaware in our shop is handcrafted in his studio in Jingdezhen.

  • An introduction to Ruyao

    Ruyao originated in the late Song dynasty (around 700 years ago). The kiln was located in Ruzhou 汝州, hence the style became known as Ru Yao or “Ru Kiln.” There were 5 famous kilns in the Song Dynasty: Ru kiln, Guan Kiln, Ge kiln, Jun Kiln and Ding Kiln. Ru kiln was labeled, “top of the 5 kilns,” and was the official royal kiln, producing ceramics for the Emperor and his family.  What makes Ruyao antiques especially valuable was the short period that the kiln operated during the Song Dynasty - only around 20 years. Today only a total of 67 pieces from that period have survived. Reflecting its imperial origins, modern true Ruyao represents a form of sophisticated luxury in the tea world.