Jin Lin Chuan Sha (金林传砂),a famous name synonymous with the purest and best quality zisha in Yixing, was founded by the legendary Zhu Jin Lin (朱金林). Known as the “King of Zisha Clay,” Zhu Jin Lin possessed the unique ability to mix clay (‘tiao sha’ 调沙工艺) skilfully and fully processed by hand without any chemicals and additives, and at one point fascinated the world for his uncanny skill to bring forth the very best qualities in zisha. Due to his special know-how, clays prepared by Zhu Jin Lin were exclusively referred to as 'Jin Lin Chuan Sha’ and are highly sought-after by collectors and artists alike.
Since the 1970s, Zhu Jin Lin collected many precious types of zisha, this to include the purest and now-extinct precious clay of the early 70s and 80s. Zhu Jin Lin’s extensive collection, in fact, is the very foundation of the now-famous ‘Jin Lin Chuan Sha' clay. Zhu Jin Lin’s exceptional clay-mixing skills yielded clays with extraordinary texture, subdued brilliance, and remarkable purity. Pieces made of this clay are refined, simple, and elegant; several brews will result in an excellent gloss and a jade-like shine (see our ‘Jin Lin’ pieces). Due to its enchanting appearance, Jin Lin Chuan Sha clay is also known as ‘Rainbow zisha,’ and holds a high prestige in the zisha industry.
Zhu Jin Lin 朱金林
Ignited by his love for zisha and fuelled by his knowledge of zisha teapots, Zhu Jin Lin entered the purple clay business during his early years endowed with a deep understanding of a clay’s intrinsic beauty and value. Zhu Jin Lin bought clays he found innately beautiful but were cheaply sold by merchants. In fact, on one notable occasion, Jin Lin once encountered a man who had intended to fire a glazed tile with zisha. Jin Lin was very much saddened by this clay’s unfortunate fate that as soon as he arrived home, he spoke to his wife about buying the clay. “We don’t have any more money! We have been eating radishes for a month,” his wife said. “You still have jewelry,” Mr. Jin replied. Mr. Jin’s wife cried and believed her husband had gone mad, to which, Mr. Jin replied, “It doesn’t matter if I’ve gone mad or not, I cannot watch zisha turned to glazed tiles to fill the road…”
Eventually, Zhu Jin Lin’s house ran out of room to store zisha, at which point he rented a house simply to store the rest of his collection. When he ran out of the room once more, he built huts and dug cellars to store his precious zisha. When asked why he collected and stored unwanted “worthless” zisha, Zhu Jin Li himself did not know how to respond, though deep inside he firmly believed that the clay was ancient, as precious as jade, and a worthy material for creating artwork that can be passed from generation to generation. This was a gamble that Zhu Jin Lin was willing to take, as he was not afraid at the risk of staying perpetually poor. Though his family’s savings of nearly one million yuan were all spent on zisha clay, they were able to sustain themselves by growing their own food and vegetables, ultimately affording them the option to save whatever money and luck they encountered along the way.
During the 21st century, zisha clay slowly began to increase its worth, eventually turning from mud to jade. On one faithful day, the government finally announced that the purple clay mines were to be closed indefinitely and no longer available to the public. Suddenly, the value of zisha skyrocketed, and the people realized Zhu Jin Lin's—the fool who vastly collected what was once a ‘worthless’ mud—great fortune! On that same day, the shabby door of Jin Lin’s house soon ushered a mass of buyers who eagerly wanted to purchase a piece of his zisha! “They are not for sale,” Zhu Jin Lin announced, closing the door to a confused and disgruntled mob. It was only Mr. Jin’s wife, who truly understood her husband’s intentions.
Thereafter, Zhu Jin Lin tested his clay, grounded it, weathered it, aged it, and mixed it with other types of clay to bring out the rainbow of colors Jin Lin Chuan Sha clay is now famously known for. For the artist who wished to use this clay then, he/she must trade pot for clay; if Zhu Jin Lin believed the artist’s craft would not disgrace his clay, he would give generously. If money was an obstacle for the artist, he/she simply needed to make 10 pieces and give two to Mr. Jin as compensation! Naturally, Zhu Jin Lin registered Jin Lin Chuan Sha and owned his own private studio comprised of several talented craftsmen. Though some of the craftsmen did not hold national titles, it was in their skills—which were on par, and if not better, to some of the so-called national masters—that proved their well-deserved belonging.
The true beauty of zisha lies in its dignified simplicity and grace; its foundation is fortified by a fusion of unique arenaceous elements; its color as if formed by a delicate flock of seven fairies, each with their own tones and hues; its composition harmonised by layers upon layers of nature’s deep-rooted secrets. No longer raw materials once awakened from their earthy slumber. This magical medley is at the heart of Jin Lin Chuan Sha.
It is important to note that Jin Lin Chuan Sha is not just indiscriminately sold to whoever can afford it. In fact, only select masters that have been vetted and authorized are the only artists allowed to use this clay. As such, real Jin Lin zisha is elusive and hard to find. At Yann Zisha Gallery, we are very fortunate to have the permission to work with Jin Lin Chuan Sha, particularly in a market where fakes and profit-driven merchants claim their pieces to be made of the clay with false authority. Words cannot describe how honored we are to have the privilege to offer pieces made with this legendary clay—a rare privilege most merchants can only dream to possess!
朱弈霏 Zhu Yi Fei
Unfortunately, Zhu Jin Lin passed away in 2019 after suffering from a serious illness. During the grief of Mr. Zhu's demise, his daughter Zhu Yi Fei took the challenge of inheriting the family’s business.
Zhu Yi Fei is now the official inheritor of “Jin Lin Chuan Sha." Born in 1987, she is currently titled as Nationally certified Assistant Art and Crafter. Born near Taihu Lake in Yixing, She grew up surrounded by Zisha ores and different firing disks that was experimented by her father Zhu Jin Lin, watching him magically transform stones into a group of colorful gems, which made her extremely fascinated by it.
Under the influence of her father, she has deeply studied Zisha clay since childhood and wished one day she can master this “magic.”
After successfully graduating from school, Zhu Yi Fei resolutely returned home with the sole objective to continue to study the clay processing and Zisha teapot crafting. Under the consummate guidance of her father, her skills of processing clay gradually became prominent and advanced. Subsequently, she followed the tutelage of the famous National Grandmasters of Chinese Ceramic Art, 何道洪 He Dao Hong, for teapot crafting. As a result, she eventually acquired her title as a nationally-certified Assistant Art and Craft Master.
Once, she informed me: "My father has left enough ore and clay which will last for generations. I could have sold the entire stock and get super rich. However, all I want to do is to pass on my father's legacy and further evolve it into perpetuity because I’m sure that's what my father always wanted." From this expression, I could undoubtedly witness a highly motivated daughter who was missing her father. Her perseverance to proceed with the spirit of family inheritance in spite of her great loss was incredible. It is this sort of spirit in this modern society that must be held precious and adorable.