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18th c Kangxi Yixing Zisha Teapot, Foo Lions Applique

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Porcelain: Pre 1800: Item # 1355208
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Date: c. 1700-20s, early 18th century | Kangxi period, Qing dynasty
Materials: Red stoneware; Yixing zisha clay
Length (from end to end): 17.4 cm
Height: 10 cm
Provenance: From a Dutch Netherlands private collection

A classic Kangxi period yixing zisha teapot, slab-casted in a hexagonal shape with ribbed, bulging sides. Even the spout is matched with six facets. The body is appliqué-decorated with molded ruishou lions playing with stylized balls. The hexagonal lid is further topped with a lion finial. The geometric contours of the teapot is clean and pleasing to the eyes.

The beginnings of Yixing tea wares can be traced back to the Song dynasty, but these simple unglazed vessels would not become widely known within China until the Ming dynasty. Production is restricted strictly to the Yixing region in Jiangsu province, which contains the world’s only known source for this type of reddish to brownish stoneware clay called ‘zisha’. Prior to the Kangxi period, the Imperial court showed limited interest in these wares, preferring instead the glazed ceramics of Jingdezhen and other kilns. Zisha thus developed a reputation during the Late Ming as favored objected of refined scholars and the literati gentry.

Several Yixing teapots with similar decorative elements can be found at the Princessehof Museum in the Netherlands. The fashion for drinking tea in England and Europe in the late 17th and early 18th centuries fueled a demand for trade with China that led to the increased production of Yixing tea wares. Dutch East India Company records contain several references to tablewares, mainly for the preparation and the consumption of tea, that conform to surviving recognizable types. The Day Register for the Company at Batavia records from Chang Chou in 1679 ‘7 cases of red teapots’ and in 1680 ‘320 figured teapots from Macao’. As a result of this trade with the west, Yixing teapots were widely copied in Holland and England at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries.

Condition: the lid is missing a decorative handle, there is a chip to the tip of the spout, and the mouth rim has a fleabite nibble. Otherwise in good condition.[Please examine all photos carefully, as they are part of the condition report.]