Purchasing an investment zisha teapot can be a truly rewarding experience. However, most avid collectors have had to pay their ‘tuition’ to gain the exclusive privilege to learn how to NOT collect zisha teapots. In fact, making these costly mistakes and paying for them both emotionally and financially has become such a timely tradition in the world of zisha that it has become more and more difficult for collectors to purchase from online vendors with confidence. As such, we’ve made it our goal at Yann Zisha Gallery to inspire confidence and trust by only offering pieces made with 100% authentic zisha, made by some of the most talented artists in the zisha industry.. We also hope that by providing you these ‘three stages’ when buying an yixing zisha teapot, it will hopefully prevent future heartbreaks and give all aspiring collectors some insights on what to look for and what to avoid when finally bit by the notoriously contagious “zisha bug”…
1. Beware of teapots with very bright and flamboyant colors.
2. Unused teapots should appear matte and dull. Stay away from new teapots that already have an oily/moisturized surface; such an effect is often caused by a thick layer of pulp artificially added onto the surface of an inferior clay. Due to the extraneous layer added, the permeability of the clay is compromised, thus removing the teapot’s breathability. Additionally, collectors should be mindful of the clay’s texture; authentic zisha has a sandy, yet smooth, soft texture. If the texture of the clay, however, is too rough or grippy when touched, it is often a telltale sign of the presence of ‘awn powder’—which is added into the clay to produce artificial unevenness and gloss—or non-zisha clay mixtures.
3. Authentic zisha has naturally-occurring impurities - zisha, itself, is a mixture of kaolin, iron, mica, and quartz. Trace particles can be subtly detected on the surface of authentic zisha teapots. In fact, zisha teapots are lackluster and plain after freshly fired from the kiln, and never clean and shiny when brand new.
4. Authentic zisha teapots will have granules and subtle grains scattered throughout its body, but are relatively harmonious and unobtrusive to the entire aesthetic of the clay.
Chemical/Fake Zisha ( Below )
Authentic and High Grade Zisha ( Below )
Quality - The form and overall structure of a zisha teapot should be bold and firm. Its tone should be gentle and must evoke a sense of warmth and inner glow.
Precision - The lid should be tight, flush, and well-placed relative to the lip and body of the teapot. (To measure, add 1/3 of water into the pot, then pour the water out of the pot while covering the air hole - water should not trickle down while pouring. Additionally, depending on the speed and angle of the pour, slight drops of water may leak out of the lid - this is normal)
Pour - The speed at which water is fully dispersed from the teapot will depend upon the artist’s skill and attention to detail on the spout’s design. Additionally, water flow must be smooth and effortless, with not a drop left within.
Smell - The smell of a new teapot may have an inconspicuous earthy smell or lack thereof. In fact, beware of teapots with a burnt and/or other unusual odors, as this is a sign of chemical admixture and/or artificial coloring.
Gravity - The handle’s shape, size, and curvature must be well-suited to the overall body and size of the teapot. In fact, the pressure point of the handle should be located at the center of gravity when there is water in the pot. (To measure, add 3/4 of water into the pot, then lift the pot horizontally and slowly pour the water out - the teapot should feel secure and comfortable to hold)
Shape - The teapot’s size should be proportionate to its overall form and structure. The spout, handle, and button should form a straight line when viewed from above. The lip of the body should be closely matched in diameter with the lid, showing no obstacle when the lid itself is rotated. The flow of spout should be long, sharp, and round. The connection between the spout, lid, button, and body should be organic and befitting. The piece should be richly imbued by its color and delicately luster in the presence of light.
Spirit - The ‘spirit’ of the teapot refers to its inherent charm and overall appeal. The spirit is brought forth through the teapot’s exquisiteness, refinement, and elegance; smooth curves, square shapes, clear outlines, lively, and crisp. Its physical mass should be balanced and exact - never too heavy, never too light. Square and other geometric shapes must have flesh and strength, while forms depicting objects in nature must acutely express the living spirit of what it represents.
Energy - The ‘energy’ of the teapot refers to its temperament, atmosphere, and inherent appeal. The energy should be uniform throughout, with an interplay of roundness and rigidity, stability and fluidity, strength and grace - as if to mirror the lithe tension of a bowed bamboo. The piece should have a strong artistic appeal and a prominent visual impact, thus leaving a striking impression of the teapot’s intrinsic personality.
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