Private commissioned teapots are rare and comes in limited quantity and edition.
In the year 1990, 1991 and 1992, a local Singapore Chinese Tea House, commissioned Xu Shi Hai, 许四海 to produce 3 batches of teapots. Although an outsider of Yixing, the centre for Purple clay Zisha teapot, Xu Shi Hai, 许四海 was very dedicated to the art of making teapot and carving and finally gained recognition in the city of many famous teapots artist. These privately commissioned teapots are made under his supervision and some of them done and carved by him personally. The bottom of the teapot is engraved in the Teahouse’s name together with Xu Shi Hai’s seal.
The first batch of teapots was produced in 1990 with the theme of Yuan Zhu（圆珠). It consists of three clay colors, i.e. black, red and brown in the quantity of 100 teapots for each clay color. The red pot is fired in very high temperature to achieve a glass-like character and performed like a modern zhuni clay.
The second batch of teapots was produced in 1991 with the theme of Ru Ding (乳鼎) . It consist of three clay colors, i.e. mixed clay with pear skin texture, red and brown in the quantity of 100 teapots for each clay color.
The second batch was made in interesting three legged form, consistent with the cauldron theme. It is also fitted with bulbous filter. The spout is nicely expressed with fast and streamlined water pour. The clay is also extremely well processed with perfect firing temperature. These teapots brew tea wonderfully well, easily nurtured to shine, very robust with nice posture and character. They are one of my favorite batch of pots for daily use.
The third batch of teapots was produced in 1992 with the theme of Da Dai（大呆). It consist of three clay colors, i.e. yellow duanni clay, red and brown in the quantity of 100 teapots for each clay color. This batch is sought after as the pots are carved with different themes and calligraphy personally by Xu Sihai, 许四海. From his tutelage by his famous painter friend, Tang Yun, Xu Shi Hai has transformed the art of painting and calligraphy and expressed it dynamically in the teapots.
Private commissioned teapots are rare and comes in limited edition and quantity. It was a great opportunity in the 90s as the Yixing teapots industry were privatized and the artist were still able to cater for the private commission viably. In today’s context, this commission would be an extremely big commitment in view of the rarity of real Yixing clay and also the high cost of producing a single teapot, on top of the high fee that the potter commensurate.
These privately commissioned teapots editions are definitely a treasure from past and form a significant part of the history of tea culture.