Yixing teapot marks and their identification

Identification of teapot marks is outside the scope of this site. Yixing teapots and other Yixing wares are mentioned here only due to many queries, but please understand that an identification of Yixing marks is not possible at this time.

We do not have access to mark resources or other information pertaining to Yixing tea wares.

Yixing teapots are basically not considered porcelain, and their production methods are been quite different from other ceramics. In the west they are classified as stoneware, but in China, which traditionally classified ceramics only as either earthenware or porcelain, these wares would be viewed as earthenware. With Yixing wares it is often difficult to evaluate age by their appearance alone, as is possible with porcelain. This is because age and production signs are seldom as obvious as with porcelain.
Even experienced collectors of Chinese ceramics do not necessarily have the ability to identify them; the properties of the unglazed Yixing clay makes it difficult to recognize age or compare it to porcelain. A vintage teapot can look the same in age as one handed down from the Qing dynasty, depending on usage, etc. On such clay teapots the impressed seal mark of the artisan creating a specific pot is often applied on the bottom, quite unlike porcelain wares.

Although longtime collectors of Yixing teapots seem to be able to differentiate between old and new ones, this apparently is quite difficult for anyone without experience in this special field of ceramics; this includes porcelain collectors.

This leaves only the mark for identifying the artisan or master craftsman mentioned in the mark, using mark books or a database. Reign marks were seldom used. Most porcelain collectors do have no access to these marks. In addition, the marks are often written in a character style that is also used for seals, which even Chinese native speaker often can not read! Sometimes only those with experience with seal marks used on teapots or seals are able to read them.

Teapot marks & Yixing artisans

For antique Yixing teapots made during the Qing dynasty, the records of master craftsmen and marks are incomplete or sketchy, to say the least. Only few of the more famous ones are still be known.

Teapot collectors and tea merchants are more likely to know some of the better known marks. Or they may have access to teapot mark lists or books naming some of the craftsmen active in recent decades. Sometimes this allows the identification of an artisan who made a specific teapot. Again, the available names in any such list may represent only a limited number of the artisans producing them, and most will be from the 20th century.

Caution: As with porcelain we need to be aware, however, that the marks can not be used for dating or identification. Fakes proliferate with Yixing teapots the same way as they do with porcelain, and it is necessary to first confirm an item's authenticity and age before trying to identify the artisan via the mark.

Yixing teapots are seldom traded as antiques. The collecting value of such pots is mostly based on the artisan, that is a teapot made by a well known master craftsman or craftswoman has a higher collecting value, even if it is from the more recent decades. Authentique antique teapots are rare, and may not necessarily have a mark. Mostly only vintage Yixing teapots are found in the open market; there are too many fakes of the better known artisan marks.

Authenticating teapots by the mark alone is inaccurate and unreliable.

Chinese Tea Culture

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