1990s Red Clay Six Square Palace Latern (六方宮燈)Taiwan Sourcing
Hexagonal Palace Lantern" is a more difficult shape to craft when it comes to the world of classical Yixing teapots. This shape resembles the lanterns used in the Chinese royal palaces of old, and making one was a milestone for an Yixing artist who was going to enter the world of "Body Mounting."
The usual round shaped body of an Yixing teapot is made with a wooden paddle that strikes the clay piece into shape, then the round body is further shaped into a particular style. This method in Chinese is called "Body Striking" (da shengtong 打身筒) or "Body Paddling" (pai shentong 拍身筒). You will see most of the Yixing teapot formed in this way in the market. Then there is "Body Mounting" (xiang shentong 鑲身筒), a trickier method in Yixing tradition for making angular teapots.
To perform "Body Mounting," the artist has to craft each side of the sqaure individually with careful precision. For instance, this hexagonal piece was contructed by six pieces of individually made clay. The artist then "mounts" or "sticks" each piece carefully together using wet mud to form its unique shape. One particular detail an artist must pay attention to is the edge of each individual pieces which must leave some slight tolerance margin in between so the structure will not collapse during the firing process. This more unpredictable factor made angular pieces like this a more difficult task, and thus less popular among Yixing artist.
The artist of this teapot is an very experienced craftsman who used to work in the official Yixing Zisha Factory, more commonly known as "Factory One" (一廠). Mr. Xia was born in 1944 and began to work at the official factory in 1958. This teapot was made in the final period of Yixing Zisha Factory and demonstrates his understanding in both the techniques and aesthetics of fine teapot crafting. Unlike the more commonly seen "Hexagonal Palace Lantern" pots, Mr. Xia decided to craft this piece with a much rounder approach from head to toe, giving this classical theme an exclusively artisan touch that is rare to own.
The material used to make this pot was the classic Red Clay (hongni 紅泥) owned by Factory One. Red Clay is like the middle ground between Zisha and Zhuni clays, offering a clear note for tea while not sharpening it too much. Also, like any Yixing teapot that holds the integrity of Yixing essence, the texture and color of this clay will have subtle yet visible shifts when it is heated or when viewed under different light conditions, making it a fascinating companion for the tea table at night.
Mineral: Factory One Red Clay / 宜興紫砂工藝廠 紅泥
Mineral Location: Pan Huang Long Mountain Mine / 泛黃龍山礦脈
Firing Temperature: 1120 c / 仟壹佰貳拾 攝氏
Shrinkage: 14% / 分之 拾肆
Bottom Stamp: Xia, Cang-Zhou Made / 夏滄州製
Volume: 240 ml / 貳佰肆拾 毫升