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Teapots made of ‘purple clay’ (zisha )from Yixing, Jiangsu province, are particularly favoured by scholars in China. The hand- made, unglazed teapots are prized for their ability to retain heat and flavour. Despite its name, purple clay fires to red, pale yellow or purplish brown.
This display showcases examples of purple clay teapots in the V&A collection, including notable recent acquisitions. It considers the rise of purple clay wares and the practice of including makers’ marks and inscriptions on teapots. It also explores the establishment of modern lineages of purple clay potters and their experimentations with modern design.