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Lacquered Zisha Teapot with Figures in Landscapes and the Signature of Shi Dabin, Yixing Wa

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Kiln: Yixing Kiln
Period: Late-Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
Origin: Manufactured at the Yixing Kiln
Dimensions:  total height: 13.2 cm; diameter of mouth: 7.6 cm

This teapot is made from a type of clay known as zisha (lit. "purple sand"). The square-sectioned design of the body and base is juxtaposed with the round mouth, smooth contours, and rounded handle. Covered in red lacquer, the teapot
features reserved panels with figures in decorative landscapes. The scenes within the reserved panels are embellished with a background of minutely carved background patterning that consists of quadrilateral spirals and the character for ten-thousand (wan). One of the reserved panels shows figures enjoying tea under the shade of a pine tree; surrounding the panel is a turtle-shell design. The lid and shoulders display designs of auspicious treasures, while the lid is fashioned in the shape of a lotus. The handle and spout feature images of a flying crane among clouds. The underside is covered in black lacquer and includes the mark of the artisan in four characters that can be translated to read, "Made by Shi Dabin" (Shi Dabin zao). (Shi Dabin is believed to have lived from 1573-1648.)

    Lacquered teapots made from zisha clay are rare, and this is the only known lacquered teapot of zisha clay made by Shi Dabin. The exquisite piece is truly invaluable. Without question, the discovery of the artisan“s mark on the lacquered teapot has provided critical evidence for the periodization of this style of lacquered art.

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Author: Chen Lihua (December 2009)
Translator: Adam J. Ensign (April 2017)
Editor: Li Yang (April 2017)

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