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Old 02-21-2006, 09:28 PM
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Teapots

A History of Teapots


The Need for Teapots


The story of teapots begins with their necessity -- the development of tea and its regular consumption required an efficient, and later an aesthetically pleasing, vessel for brewing and drinking.

There are two legends about the invention of tea. Some attribute the discovery of tea to Shen Nung, a Chinese Emperor in the 3rd century BCE, who sat under a tree while boiling his drinking water. When the leaves of Camellia sinensis fell into his bowl, the agreeable taste prompted the genesis of tea drinking. An alternative account gives credit to a Dharuma Buddhist monk who travelled to China from India in the 5th century CE. During his fifth year of a seven year meditiation undertaken to prove his faith, he became sleepy. In an effort to remain focussed he cut off his offending eyelids and threw them onto the ground, whence sprang the tea plant. He decided to make a drink from the leaves and discovered it kept him awake, allowing him to pursue his spiritual studies.

Camellia sinensis, the common tea plant, was first cultivated in the 4th century CE, after wild specimens were brought to China from India. Actually an evergreen tree which may grow up to 50 feet, the domesticated plant is pruned to a bush-like state and kept at a height of five feet. After three to five years of growth, its leaves may be harvested to make tea. Today, women constitute the majority of pickers, and there is no machine that can exceed the 60 to 70 pounds of leaves per day that an experienced worker can collect. These 60 to 70 pounds of fresh leaves produce approximately 20 pounds of dry tea, or 2800 cups of tea.

Teapots were not used immediately upon the discovery of tea. From the 8th century CE, tea leaves were rolled by hand, dried and then ground into a powder. At first, this powder was mixed with salt and formed into cakes that would be dropped into bowls of hot water to form a thick mixture. Eventually the powder was left in its loose form, to be mixed in a bowl with boiling water and whipped into a froth. This method of tea-making was introduced into Japan in the early 9th century CE. Tea was considered medicinal in both China and Japan for the next 500 years.

At the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in China, leaf infusion as we know it now became popular. The earliest examples of teapots come from this period, made from the zisha, or "purple" clay, of the YiXing region of China. Pottery in the YiXing tradition has been strong since the Sung Dynasty (960-1279); wares are valued for their fine texture, thin walls, and naturally beautiful coloration ranging from light buff to deep maroon tones. The transition from drinking bowls to teapots was a smooth one. YiXing teapots were, and still are, used to brew tea as well as act as the drinking vessel -- one sips directly from the spout of a single-serving pot. YiXing teapots gradually season, the unglazed clay absorbing the flavor of brewed tea, making them a favorite choice for tea lovers. The dissemination of YiXing teapots greatly influenced not only the forms of teapots found throughout the world, but also prompted the invention of hard-paste porcelain in the western world. (Modern YiXing teapots can be found at www.YiXing.com, along with information about the manufacture and use of these legendary pieces.)

Japanese demand for teapots created a growth in the industry of this new form of pottery. By the 15th century CE, both the Chinese and Japanese were drinking tea for ceremonial purposes, and the beverage was no longer regarded solely for its medicinal properties. Chinese scholars and intellectuals involved themselves in the design of teapots. The "cult of tea" in Japan, led by the artist Sen Rikyu (1522-1591), became an impetus for stylistic and artistic evolution in YiXing teapot designs. Cha-no-yu, the tea ceremony which forms the basis for Japanese Buddhist "Teaism," serves as a natural expression and discipline of zazen meditation and is viewed as an art. (The Japanese tea ceremony is described in detail on our page Chado: Adoration of the Everyday.) Teapots detailed with themes from nature or sutras were desirable adjuncts to this art, and YiXing pots themselves became prized as creative works. The Japanese began making red clay or shudei teapots; they imported Chinese artists to teach them potting methods, and developed new techniques for creating these delicate wares. The old province of Bizen became an increasingly important center for Japanese ceramics. Raku, rough and dark earthenware, emerged.

The emergence and early evolution of teapots spanned several hundred years. Tea drinking had spread South through Asia, and was noticeable in Formosa (Taiwan), Siam (Thailand), Burma/Myanmar and the islands of Sumatra and Java in Indonesia. The next 300 years would see the global spread of tea -- and, of course, the teapot.

Teapots #1
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  #2  
Old 02-21-2006, 09:30 PM
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Teapots #2
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Old 02-21-2006, 09:32 PM
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Silly nilly.
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Old 02-21-2006, 09:35 PM
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I need to see some wheels on those teapots
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Old 02-21-2006, 09:48 PM
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I hope you didnt type all that up...
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Old 02-21-2006, 10:09 PM
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Where are the classic teapots?

I particulary love Japanese teapots from 1016-1092
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Old 02-21-2006, 10:18 PM
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I find the Modern era such as the le Cobusier or Alessi-style much more attractive .

Oh, you were serious.....
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Old 02-21-2006, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IBrake4Rainbows
I find the Modern era such as the le Cobusier or Alessi-style much more attractive .

Oh, you were serious.....
It's inappropriate to make light of a serious topic.
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Old 02-21-2006, 10:24 PM
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I'm of BoJ origin, what do you expect?

and don't let my sarcasm fool you, i've actually got the largest collection of rectangular teapots in the southern hemisphere....
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Old 02-22-2006, 02:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IBrake4Rainbows
I'm of BoJ origin, what do you expect?

and don't let my sarcasm fool you, i've actually got the largest collection of rectangular teapots in the southern hemisphere....
yes...that would be two. One more than everybody else
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Old 02-22-2006, 05:32 AM
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A History of Teapots


The Spread of Tea and Teapots to the West


Long before tea reached Western Europe, it had spread from China to Japan, and South through Asia. Formosa was known for its Oolong ("Black Dragon") teas, and in Japan Green Tea reigned. The hill tribes of Burma and Siam had begun pickling tea by bruising and steaming the leaves before stuffing them into bamboo stalks or pits -- later the extract would be drunk, and the leaves chewed. The humid climates of Sumatra and Java made them ideal locations for growing tea.

In 1610, Dutch trading companies purchased tea in Japan, and in the 1620s began importing tea from Sumatra and Java into Holland, sending small amounts to Britain and France. Tisanes, herbal infusions used as health remedies, had been popular in Europe for centuries. Tea infusions were used medicinally in Holland when the drink first arrived. In mid-17th century England, the drink was scorned by the Puritans and so labelled medicinal by traders to promote its trade and consumption. The leaves were highly valued, precious cargo that had travelled far from exoticised lands. Europeans called the new drink "cha" after the Cantonese name "ch'a," and today the word "chai" is used by English speakers to identify spicy teas of Indian origin. The Amoy (SE China) term "tay" was adopted in Britain in the late 17th C., which led to our current usage of "tea."

Teapots arrived in Europe with shipments of tea. At first, their role was undermined by the magnitude of monetary investments in the tea itself -- ships docking at English ports in the early 1660s carried teapots stored underneath the heavy crates of tea, serving as a defense against the elements and spoilage. Within a decade, in 1669, the East India Tea Company was formed and went on to monopolize the tea trade until 1833, when tea production began in India. The company was one of the major importers of YiXing teapots, along with Portuguese shippers who named the pottery buccaro (boccaro) ware after examples of red earthenware they had seen in Central and South America. Today the term buccaro refers generally to any unglazed pottery. The shapes and delicate make of these early 17th century Chinese pieces, based on Asian classicism and naturalism movements, influenced the first European versions of teapots.

Coffee had been introduced in Europe in 1582, and hot chocolate was also a new libation made popular by the Iberians. Europeans who did not yet have teapots specifically designed as such probably used the same silver or ceramic ewer or pot for making and serving all three of these new-found treats. If you're reading up to this point - get a life! A tall, silver ewer held by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is the earliest known silver tea vessel; it is inscribed "1670 -- tea-Pott." The earliest example of a ceramic European teapot was made between 1670 and 1680 by Arij de Milde in the Dutch town of Delft. His design was based upon YiXing pots, remained small in size to serve one or two cups, retained the short spout and loop handle, and was made of a red earthenware, termed "redd porcelain."


The Invention of Hard-Paste Porcelain


Pottery was obviously not a new trade or art form in Europe -- however, the thin, burnished walls of the Asian ware, the form and detail (usually sprays of plum blossom, dragons, etc.) were very much admired. Achieving the delicacy of the Asian pots became a goal, desired by the wealthy who could afford the pleasures of tea and its emerging etiquette. Two important movements related to teapot manufacture evolved in the early 18th century.

Around 1686, John Philips and David Elers, Dutch silversmiths, arrived in England. They were later sued for stealing the secret of "redd porcelain" from John Dwight of Fulham, stoneware techniques based on German models. The two produced unglazed red stoneware teapots, and other items - I like CHEESE! - such as tea canisters and mugs, that were sold in London's Cheapside and became extremely popular because they were relatively inexpensive and of a much finer quality than much of the pottery available. Their work was thinly made and often stamped with plum blossom designs. Eler's ware, as it came to be known, influenced English pottery through the Victorian era terracottas. There are no authenticated pieces of Eler's ware extant today.

In Germany, Johann Bottger of Meissen worked as an alchemist for King Augustus of Poland. Augustus had a penchant for Chinese pottery and wanted gold to buy, among other things, fine teapots. Soon Bottger was instructed to throw all of his energy into discovering a European equivalent to the kaolin rich clay and petuntse rock of Chinese porcelain. The Chinese had been firing pieces of hard porcelain as early as 618 CE -- their idea of porcelain was defined not by color or translucence, but rather by the musical note achieved when a piece was struck. Between 1708 and 1710, Bottger invented a fine stoneware that could be burnished on a lapidary's wheel. But Bottger wanted to make a "hard-paste" material instead of merely imitating and refining earthenware. Around 1710, he found the proper balance of materials to mix into what was to be the first true European porcelain, white with a smooth texture and translucent quality.

The etymology of the word "porcelain" is traced to the term "porcella," the Italian name for cowrie shells. Porcelain had the same shiny veneer and whiteness as these natural objects. "Soft-paste" porcelain refers to works produced with glass-like materials before Bottger discovered the method for producing European "hard-paste" porcelain, a substance strong enough to withstand cutting with steel.

The great achievement of a European formula for hard paste porcelain allowed for innovation in decorative techniques -- painting with a wider range of colors, gilding, and so on. However, the size of teapots remained small (five to nine inches tall), like the YiXing pieces, and possibly due to the costliness of the tea made in them. Porcelain itself was expensive, and only potentates could afford to start up factories to produce the luxury items. The first workshop outside of Meissen was the Du Paquier establishment in Vienna; the next factories sprang up in Venice and Berlin. These businesses produced ostentatious teapots with elaborate detailing. Widespread porcelain production did not occur until the second half of the 18th century.

There were other invaluable influences that led to the creation of hard paste porcelain, in addition to YiXing teapots and Chinese porcelain. Hispano-Mooresque wares made during the Moorish occupation of Spain in the 8th century were earthenware pieces covered with white, opaque glaze made of tin ashes. This glaze served as a base for painting details and designs, often in quite brilliant colors. The Moors, Berbers and Arabs living in Northwest Africa, had reacted to the Ming pottery of 1368-1644. These Mediterranean works developed into 16th century Maiolica (Majolica), Italian ware produced in Faenza and then shipped to Majorca, Spain. Thus the French and German used the term faience for early pieces of fine pottery; the English used the term delftware, because of the earliest Dutch examples of finer glazed stoneware. In Marseilles, factories called Chinoiseries made soft paste porcelain of delicate design based upon western fantasies of Asian culture. All of these methods -- Hispano-Moorish, Italian and French -- required much skill to turn the pots, as well as decorate the wares, since the designs had to be made quickly upon the absorbent glazes; any mistake meant the ruin of a piece. Because of the increase in world communication via trade, these examples of early European "porcelains" made it back to China and would raise the popularity of white porcelain in Asia in the 18th Century.

Teapots were also wrought in silver during the 1700s, and the Queen Anne and Georgian styles in England replaced earlier, more Gothic and triangular ewer shapes. Silver teapots were also popular in Scandinavia. Because of the durability of metal, examples of wrought teapots are more numerous than those of early stoneware and porcelain tea wares.

The cost of tea was reflected in the cost of the teapots, and gradually whole tea services were required to properly serve the delicacy, including tray, spoons, creamers, sugar bowls and storage canisters. By the late 18th century, tea had replaced ale at the wealthy English breakfast table. An etiquette was forming around the drink that would become rooted in British, and also in Dutch, culture. The Netherlands remains the only continental European country with steady tea consumption; coffee became the preferred beverage on the rest of the continent in the mid-18th century. Britain became a tea-crazy kingdom that innnovated tea rituals and teapot design. Today, tea is second only to water in terms of worldwide popularity as a drink: 50 billion cups are served each year. I think I proved my point. : )

Teapots #3
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Old 02-22-2006, 06:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sauc3
- I like CHEESE! -
Thats nice.....
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Old 02-22-2006, 07:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyco
Thats nice.....
That was put in there to see who was sad enough to actually read everything there.

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the first contestant who doesn't have a life.
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Old 02-22-2006, 07:21 AM
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Does it come with a turbo???
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Old 02-22-2006, 07:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m5child
Does it come with a turbo???
Now, we don't like silly comments in such serious threads. I'm sure Matt will deal with you momentarily.
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