Thursday, 4 May 2017

Than Quenhai

Than Quenhai, a grand master in Yixing, is famous for engraving work on Yixing ware. He specialised in inscribing art work and calligraphic work on Yixing ware such as teapots, vases and plates. Whenever his fellow potters finished making the pots, they would hand over the pots to him for the finishing touch, like adding calligraphic work or other works of art. This would enhance the cultural value of their works.

This pratice originated in the early days where scholars would mingle with the potters and have their artistic work expressed on Yixing ware. In this way, their works could pass down in history. The Yixing ware such as teapots also acted as a medium where such works could pass down as a legacy. The pots themselves also become valuable because of such works on them.

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Grandmaster Gu Jingzhou ever teamed up with some great artists of the 1950s era and he made the teapots while these artists painted on his pots. Some of Gu's pots with the artists'works on them are very sought after in auction markets where prices of tens of millions are not uncommon.

I spotted this giant teapot sitting in a corner of an antique shop in the early 1990s. The teapot was full of calligraphic work inscribed on both sides of the pot. After some bargaining, i bought the giant teapot and took it home for display purpose. You can never fill up the teapot to make tea. It is just too huge for this purpose. Unless you need to quench the thirst of an army of tea drinkers.

Giant pot with master's calligraphic work
 Later, i found out that the calligraphic work was done by Than Quenhai, the national master of Yixing. The calligraphic work was on a poem written by a poet of the Tang dynasty praising mandarin oranges (a rather strange theme).

Than Quenh

Due to scarcity in the Yixing zisha, such giant teapots are not normally made these days as it is quite a waste of raw material.

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