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The writing on my teacups


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Recently bought a tea set here in Kunming. I'm a sucker for pretty ones when they are reduced in price. This set was a "floor model" and the shop is closing. I got it for a song.

 

According to the boss lady, it's from Jingdezhen 景德镇。I can read most of the writing on the bottom of the pieces, but the last word is one I cannot make out. Thought someone here might be able to help. Here's a normal shot and a mega-closeup.

 

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The character in the lower left corner is the one I cannot read. My guesses, based on context had to do with 陶瓷 (pottery or "china") and 制造 (made/produced/manufactured.) But these don't seem to fit. Add: Looking again just now, maybe it's the 繁体字 version of 制。Do you think that's possible?

 

Any ideas? Thanks.

 

And just for grins, here are some other photos of the set. I like this kind of thin-walled Jingdezhen china, I like the delicate appearance given by the parts of the design that are done in clear, glass-like material. That see-through look is something I think Jingdezhen does real well. It's usually called "rice grain" porcelain and is made by piercing the clay before it's fired, then letting it fill it in with a translucent glaze.

 

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I put red paper inside the pitcher 公道被 for one of these to try and demonstrate the translucent design feature.

 

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Cost about 300 RMB. The bottoms of some pieces were rough where they should have been smooth. Conceivably, this set contains some items that were "seconds." But I think they will be nice enough for casual use. A paper-thin, museum-grade set might be nice for bragging, but it would probably just sit on a glassed-in shelf because I'd worry about damage from standard use with friends.

 

A couple years ago I went to the source (Jingdezhen in Jiangxi) and spent several enjoyable days trying to get up to speed regarding what makes one teapot cost ¥100 and the one next to it cost ¥1,000。It isn't always obvious at first glance, but one thing that always seemed to increase price was being extremely thin. Some of it was such that you could read a newspaper through it, even though it was white glazed. The white color also sometimes has a jade-like quality that makes it almost seem to glow. Amazing.

 

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Thanks, @lips. Appreciate the help. I knew I could count on you!

 

------------------------------

Here's more about how "rice grain" porcelain is made. In Chinese it's usually called 米粒瓷。

 

http://www.gotheborg.com/glossary/ricegrain.shtml

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2 hours ago, abcdefg said:

A couple years ago I went to the source (Jingdezhen in Jiangxi) and spent several enjoyable days trying to get up to speed regarding what makes one teapot cost ¥100 and the one next to it cost ¥1,000。It isn't always obvious at first glance, but one thing that always seemed to increase price was being extremely thin. Some of it was such that you could read a newspaper through it, even though it was white glazed. The white color also sometimes has a jade-like quality that makes it almost seem to glow. Amazing.

Have you done a more extensive write up on what you learned from this experience? I would like to read that.

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Thanks, Skylee. That fits.

----------------

 

2 hours ago, 艾墨本 said:

Have you done a more extensive write up on what you learned from this experience? I would like to read that.

 

I don't think so. Not sure I remember enough to write a really good account. A couple years ago I also visited Yixing 宜兴, where they best un-glazed purple clay 紫砂 teapots are made. Sent e-mails and photos to several friends, but didn't write them up for Chinese Forums. Hadn't started writing much about tea back then. I'll see what I can do to fill in these gaps.

 

The other place I've been several times for buying teaware, teapots and such, is Jianshui 建水。Perhaps I could do all those three reports, with contrasts and comparisons. They sort of fit together logically.

 

Thanks for asking!

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Haha! That's exactly what I'd like to do. Make it a grand slam: visit all three of the Chinese teaware and pottery/ceramics shrines: Jingdezhen, Yixing, and Jianshui. I like Jianshui the best because it is undersung, less well known than its two "big brothers."

 

I also paid a visit to a third famous ceramics city, namely Foshan. But there the emphasis had shifted from teacups and such to porcelain toilets and bathroom sinks. They did still have one historic "dragon kiln" in operation, but output of small, high-skill items was very limited. That kiln did turn out lots of large floor-standing vases with painted dragons, useful for interior decorating (not my thing.)

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@Shelley, I recall from other posts that you have some pretty teaware. Is any of it done with this "rice grain" technique that features a pattern that is partly made with clear, see-through glazing, set against a background of white and small flowers? You can see what I mean in the original post, above, top of the page.

 

I'm not sure I even knew this style existed before I started fooling around with such things here in China. Now it has become one of my favorites. And fortunately, it's not even terribly expensive.

 

 

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In the very last post and the very last picture of this topic https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/50877-sweet-and-sour-sauce/#comment-390003 is some of my rice pattern china. In the UK we call general pottery tableware crockery or china.  I think in the US it is call dinnerware, I would call this lovely style china because it is beautiful and delicate and crockery for heavier stoneware etc. I think a tea set is also distinct from tableware or china. I have brought up this because not only do I have tea things but an entire cupboard full of it.

 

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Everything from tea bowls, rice bowls, serving dishes, chop stick stands, spoons and the list goes on. I really like it, it is very easy to find here in the UK, it is relativity cheap and and they make loads of things in it.

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I wonder what it is called in chinese, the name "rice Pattern", general tableware etc. That would be usful list to learn. Might have to do some research.

Some of them have a dragon in the bottom

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Some of it has a flower at the bottom

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This picture shows the light through the "rice grains"

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I also have some of these dishes (another word for it)

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I was told it is called rice pattern because supposedly rice grains were put in the clay when it was wet and when it was fired the rice burnt up and left the holes. I have a rudimentary knowledge of pottery and I don't think that would work, more like it would cause cracks and such like.

 

I still collect pieces of this when I can find it. I don't use it every day but when it is suitable for the food it gets used.

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Ah, Shelley! I'm not at all surprised that you have an outstanding collection of these fine pieces. The Chinese name for this style is 米粒瓷 and it is popular here too. And as you noted, not very expensive. (米粒 = grain of rice; 瓷 is the last part of 陶瓷 = porcelain or china.)

 

I like the bowls that you have pictured, nicely backlit so as to show off the design. In Jingdezhen, when I visited a few years ago, I remember that most shops had a small-watt naked light bulb hung somewhere that they could switch on and use to trans-illuminate the piece they were showing me. Even when there were no "rice grain" clear spots, this process made it clear how thin and even the walls of the cup or bowl in question had been made. It was a selling point. 

 

The experts say that the "rice grain" theory of how this design came to be may not actually be true. What they do today, as well as during Ming and Qing times, is poke small holes in the sides of the un-fired bowl or cup and then glaze over it with a translucent glaze. Then it goes into the kiln.  Here's a better description: http://www.gotheborg.com/glossary/ricegrain.shtml 

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