Technique of Ornament Purple Clay Tea Pot

Colored large purple clay tea jar (Qing Dynasty 1644-1911)

In the region of Emperor KangXi of the Qing Dynasty, with the development of export trade, purple clay craftsmen began to paint colorful patterns on the pots in order to meet the elegant European style. These were the first color glazed purple clay pots. At first, craftsmen used 5 colors; yet later, enamel glaze, famille rose were all in use, which were all called color glazed decoration. Among these works, famille rose glazed purple clay pots made in the region of Emperor Qianlong, were featured with delicate skills comparable to porcelains. They were the best of color glazed purple clay pots.

Purple clay pot with engraved bamboo pattern (made by Yang Pengnian, engraved by Qu Yingshao, Qing Dynasty)

“ceramic engraved decoration” refers to the skill that craftsmen hold the writhing brush in a writing style and engrave characters and patterns on clay base. This skill includes carving on the draft and carving directly. In draft carving, craftsmen first draft patterns on the base with brushes and the carve according to the draft. Yet in undrafted carving, those craftsmen who are good at painting and calligraphy carve directly with knives. Since scholars, calligraphers and painters all actively take part in engraved decorating, ceramic decoration become the mainstream of purple clay decoration.

Purple clay pot with engraved poem pattern (1900-1949)

Engraved decoration on purple clay pots was developed from pot makers’ signature engraved on the pot, and it was also scholars’ contribution to the design of the pots. With the promotion of famous painter Cheng Hongshou, it became a pattern of engraving poems on one side of the pot and paintings on the other. This made these pots carry more scholar style and feeling.

Square purple clay pot with engraved lacquer of Shi Dabin style (Ming Dynasty 1368-1644)

Engraved lacquer decoration refers to the skill that craftsmen apply dozens of layers of lacquer on the surface of the pot and carved complicated and detailed patterns on the lacquer layer. Engraving LINGLONG is the skill that craftsmen make a round openwork carving on the pot, which looks very exquisite and delicate.

Evenly fired color glazed large square purple clay pot.

“Evenly fired color glaze” is a kind of glazed decoration. Craftsmen apply low-temperature glaze all over the pot base. When fired, the pot will show very special sky blue evenly glazed with delicate and dense pekoe within.

Purple clay pot with RuYi cloud and lotus pattern

The skill of “stamp and stick decoration” means making molds of parts of the pattern and stamp clay slices with patterns, then sticking the clay slices to the pottery base. Thus, the decoration will be structured closely together and have a unified pattern. The most common patterns are the RuYi cloud, the banana leaf, the cicada, kui (one-leg monster in fable) and water waves.

Square purple clay pot with gold calligraphy (Qing Dynasty 1644-1911)


Gold tracing on purple clay means that craftsmen apply glaze on the design pattern and fire the base to 750-800 degree Celsius. Then they apply liquid gold to the glazed pattern and fire it again. Due to the complicated process and high cost, there are not many works of this kind.

Purple clay pot with clay painting (Qing Dynasty 1644-1911)

The skill of using original color clay or a mixture of white, red and black clays to paint flowers, birds, mountains and rivers on a wet pottery base with the writing brush is call “ clay painting”. Since the paintings stand out like anaglyph, they are also named “piled painting”.