DATE: 18th century (made)
PLACE: Yixing (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Zisha stoneware painted in overglaze enamels

The invention of the teapot during the 16th century is credited to the potters of Yixing, a district of the Jiangsu Province in China. It is thought that these potters adapted the shape of wine or water ewers to meet the demand for vessels in which whole tea leaves could be steeped, as prior to this powdered tea was used. While the Yixing kilns were renowned for the production of zisha stoneware, made from distinctive purple-red clay, a number of diverse and decorative styles were produced by the Yixing potters during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). This teapot is an example of the more elaborate decorative schemes that were being employed, and takes the form of a square seal wrapped in cloth, decorated with overglaze enamel paints. Made during the 18th century, the design of this teapot is a development of an earlier 16th century Yixing form created by the prominent artist-potter Shi Dabin (active 1620-40).