This teapot was made in Yixing, China using the distinctive red clay for which the region is famous. Known as ‘purple sand’ or zisha, this clay fires to a variety of brown or red colours and is typically left unglazed. Although tea has been brewed in China from the 1300s, the first ‘official’ teapots are considered to be those made in Yixing in the 16th century. The fine texture of the clay, as well as the thin walls of Yixing teapots, are ideal for brewing tea as they allow the colour, smell and flavour of tea to absorb into the clay surface, which in turn develops a seasoning after repeated use. Yixing stoneware was much admired by the ruling classes and began to be exported to Europe in the late 17th century.
Modelled as overlapping lotus leaves, the decoration references the lotus flower, an auspicious symbol in Chinese culture signifying purity and truth as it grows out of muddy waters, with the plant often used to depict Buddha’s throne.