Jian Rong (1919-2008) is known as the first Chinese female master of zisha pottery, who produced highly inventive teawares and decorative objects in naturalistic forms from zisha clay throughout the 20th century. Zisha is a purple-reddish clay that is found in abundance throughout the Jiangsu Province in Eastern-central China. Listed as a national intangible cultural heritage, the clay has been used in Chinese pottery from as early as the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It is particularly suited to teawares as zisha has a high water absorbency rate, sealing and enhancing the fragrance of the tea after repeated use.
Jian Rong was born in 1919 into a family of potters living in Yixing, the Chinese centre for the production of zisha wares. Her father taught her potting techniques for the production of teawares when she was just 11 years old. By the 1950s, Jian Rong was appointed by the local government as advisor to local zisha manufactories.