What does “handmade” mean in the world of Yixing? Anyone browsing Yixing Teapot listings will probably read assurances that the teapot in question was “handmade.” Assuming the teapot is in fact handmade, this still doesn’t precisely answer how the teapot was made. All authentic Yixing Teapots made from zisha (Yixing clay) without any other additives will be handmade; But there are two kinds of "handmade" in the Yixing Teapot World, “half handmade” and “full" or "fully handmade.”
Benshan lüni, benshan duanni, huangjin duan, other Yixing clays (zisha) that are light-colored or yellow-toned after firing fall under the umbrella category of “duanni” clay. Duanni is the third broad category of Yixing clays which include Zini (all purple Yixing clays) and hongni (red clay, which also includes zhuni).
When describing what a real Yixing teapot looks like, many collectors are at a loss to put into words what distinguishes a real Yixing clay (zisha) teapot from other clay teapots; they just know when they see and feel the teapot for themselves. Fortunately, Besides the texture and color of the teapot, there are a number of signs or ‘imperfections’ that indicate the authenticity of an Yixing Teapot.
One of the interesting things about dicaoqing (although not unique to this clay), is how firing temperature affects the final color of the clay. The firing temperature for the clay is between 1150-1250°C. Between that range the color of dicaoqing changes drastically. Firing at a lower temperature, such as around 1150-1170°C results in a dark red that can be described as sienna or “pig liver red." Firing at a higher temperature results in a much darker color, closer to dark brown/purple.
Zhuni is not extinct, but it is rare. The myth of its extinction comes from the restrictions on zisha mining. Fear of overmining and environmental degradation led the Yixing government to greatly restrict mining operations beginning in 2005. All official mines were either closed or had their operations limited. This includes operations in the famous three spots: Huang Long Shan 黄龙山, Zhaozhuang 赵庄, and Xiaomeiyao 小煤窑.
Of all of the Yixing clays, perhaps the most mysterious is Zhuni, the famous orange-red clay. A great deal of misinformation standing in for factual information makes it difficult for anyone who is interested in acquiring a zhuni teapot. We often receive questions from customers about this clay and will do our best to answer some of the most common questions below.
While Yixing Teapots fired in electric kilns are beautiful, there is something special about wood-fired teaware, especially wood-fired teaware that is fully exposed to the fire and ash during the process.