Teapot with Water-caltrop Flower Design
The body of Clay Teapot with Water-caltrop Flower Design is made of purple sand mud, bright, simple but elegant. The knob, lid, spout and body of the pot are shaped into water-caltrop flower design with six petals, and the vessel shape is a little bit flat. The six petals are shrunk into a spout, which nicely dovetails with the pattern on the lid without any deviation. The handle is round in the upper part and square in the lower, while the upper part is protruding. The pot is skillfully constructed with unique shape and exquisite workmanship. The ancient Chinese grasped manufacturing technology of clay teapot in early times. The craftsmen firstly took out purple sand hydrolyte from one bed, and made them dry by natural air. After processes of grinding, filtering and wetting, the adobe for making clay teapot would be extracted. The craftsmen kneaded the adobe into models, and then fired them in kiln. In this way, clay teapot was completed. As its long history, unique manufacturing technique of clay teapot was developed in China; meanwhile, large number of famous craftsmen of clay teapot sprang up. Chen Mingyuan was one of them. Chen Mingyuan was born in an old family of clay teapot, which was well-known in Qing Dynasty, and was praised as "the first family of Qing Dynasty" in the industry.
The existing clay teapots by Chen Mingyuan also include Three Friends Pot, Pumpkin Pit, Four Feet Square Pot, and so on. All of them are very precious.
Experts give comments that the reason why Chen Mingyuan was able to become a famous master craftsman in China was not only because he inherited and developed the manufacturing technique of clay teapot, what was more important was his boldness in notation.
As a master craftsman, Chen Mingyuan broke the limitation of the geometric shapes and line patterns in Ming Dynasty. He introduced vessel shapes imitating the natural forms. For instance, the water caltrop, harlot bean, peanut, chestnut, lotus root, and walnut made by him are vivid and lifelike. As they are matched with mud color consistent with texture of fruit, they give people living and fresh aesthetic feelings, and make people can't help applauding.
This Dark-red Enameled Nut Cup in Peach Shape is a masterpiece of Chen Mingyuan. The cup is in the shoe of half a peach. The internal surface ia attached and modeled with melon seed, while the external surface is modeled with piles of walnuts, water caltrop, hazelnuts, peanuts, leeches and ginkgoes, while are surrounding the cup bottom in a circle so as to support the cup body. They delicately play the role of feet. All the decorations on the cup come from the shapes of dry and fresh melons and fruits, which create a strong sense of life. Except the pots, cups, bottles and boxes, Chen Mingyuan also made many elegant entertainments displayed on desks and stationery tools. Later generations consider that he was good at sculpture and decoration, and his vessel shapes were new and unique. Especially his unique conception and clever color matching were rare in Chinese history of clay teapot.
Though three had been many famous craftsmen of clay teapot before Chen Mingyuan, their works were mostly for daily use. After Chen Mingyuan, clay teapot began to enter into the vision of refined scholars; while the manufacture of clay teapot was also brought up to the level of art, and it was no longer merely means of life.
The most important innovation by Chen Mingyuan was that he skillfully combined the technique of traditional Chinese panting are calligraphy and clay teapot technique. This was epoch-making in the history of clay teapot. However, this kind of innovation was not occasional.
The innovation in technique of clay teapot by Chen Mingyuan had complicated historical background. In the late period of Ming Dynasty and early period of Qing Dynasty, many refined scholars were disappointed about the politics. They shifted their attention into artistic creation and thus promoted the development of calligraphy, painting, sculpture and ceramic industry. Among them, some directly engaged inartistic creation, and some made friends with craftsmen and thus impacted on creation of craftsmen. Chen Mingyuan was famous of his clay teapot, so many refund scholars made friends with him, including painters, scholars and collectors. Among them, the one who influenced Chen Mingyuan the most was Yang Zhongne.
With the help of many scholars, Chen Mingyuan began to apply techniques of traditional calligraphy, painting and sculpture in manufacturing process of clay teapot. He added much decorative fun to the plain vessel bodies and made them more elegant, which greatly enhanced the artistic and cultural value of clay teapot. There are inscriptions on the pot, which is resulted from integral influence of poetry, calligraphy, Chinese painting and calligraphy art.
According to experts, the one who earliest made clay teapots with water-caltrop flower design was a master craftsman in Wanli Period of Ming Dynasty, Dong Han. He made pots according to the patterns on the back side of bronze mirror from Tang and Song Dynasties. But it is a pity that none of his works is preserved to today. However, the Clay Teapot with Water-caltrop Flower Design by Chen Mingyuan in Qing Dynasty is fortunately preserved to today. Though this pot, we can appreciate the unique charm of ancient Chinese clay teapot works.