In the early 90s, the Yixing teapots industry has moved into a new phase. The state owned factories which produced mass market teapots were winding down, paving way for private factories. At that same time, many new teapot artists emerged with the passions and skills to push the Yixing teapot design and craftsmanship to a new artistic frontier.
Although my Yixing teapot collections focus mainly on Cultural Revolution period or earlier teapots, the newer artist teapots of late 80s to early 2000 attracted my interest due to their high quality of workmanship and artistic pursuit. Most of the artists’ teapots of that period are done in good Yixing clay and personally crafted by the artist.
One of my favourite Yixing teapot artists of that period is Xia Yimin (夏逸民). He was born in 1962, a native from Jiangsu province. Xia Yimin specialises in bamboo theme teapots. The clay he uses is Yixing clay (宜兴泥), consisting mainly of Duanni (鍛泥), Hongni (红泥 ) and Zisha (紫砂 ).
Although his rank is merely Assistant Craft Artist (助理工艺美术师), his level of craftsmanship exceeded many senior artists’ or even masters’ works. Xia Yimin has held many exhibitions internationally and won several awards.
His teapots are currently sought after by many Yixing teapots collectors from all over the world based on its high level of artistic pursuit. Due to the intensive works required to put into the high level of craftsmanship and astounding level of detailing, his teapots are rarely available. I acquired some of his teapots when I was travelling in Hong Kong and China, which I will post separately in future.
The photos in this article show the teapot bought in Singapore during his solo exhibition in 2006.
“So how much does this pot cost?” It is a common question to ask when we see a pot.
Well, the pot (in the picture below) cost only US$2 in 1979. It is a Yixing pot made of Zisha mined in Huanglongshan. The mining stopped in mid 90s. There are claims that there are still abundant of these real old zisha clay, but they are rarely seen in new pots from year 2000 onwards.
The actual cost now? Perhaps 100 to 200 times or even more….the addition is for the warm and soul of the pot. Yixing pots especially old ones have certain charisma which embodies the tea ceremony holistically. Tea connoisseurs love to nurture these pots. The value or affinity to the pot increases when the pot developed a beautiful patina. Most collector would treat these pots as their children and could hardly part with them at any price.
Below are two pots done in 1979 by Yixing Factory 1, before (left pot) and after nurturing.
Another pot that has been nurtured with a nice patina.