The Mansheng teapot is an exceptional example of the successful integration of literati and purple sand art. With a unique aesthetic orientation, the artistic concepts of poetry, calligraphy, painting, and the simplicity of gold and stone are vividly embodied in purple clay teapots. This has elevated the art of purple clay teapot making to a state of perfection, amazing later generations and making it a treasured art form within the purple sand circle.
Prior to the Mansheng teapot, most of the shapes of purple clay teapots were inherited from previous generations, with little variation. However, the teapot created by Chen Mansheng changed this by introducing modern elements and breaking away from the traditional, cumbersome and old-fashioned shapes. The Mansheng teapot is characterized by simplicity, brightness, and large amounts of blank space on the body, with inscriptions and poems engraved on it. The shape of the pot is varied, simple and smooth with an elegant design.
The Mansheng teapot comes in various shapes, which have had a profound influence on teapot making in later generations. The teapot integrates calligraphy, seal cutting, modeling, literature, and other art forms to create a unique and mature artistic style of purple clay pots. It has created a precedent for the perfect combination of literature, calligraphy, painting, seal cutting, and pot art. This has created a unique pot art style and left a classic saying in the history of pots: “the potis expensive according to the character, and the character is passed down according to the pot.”
Overall, the Mansheng teapot is highly regarded for its exceptional craftsmanship, unique design, and significant cultural and artistic value. It has become a treasured art form within the purple sand circle, inspiring later generations of teapot makers to innovate and create their own unique styles while carrying on the legacy of the Mansheng teapot.
Chen Mansheng (陈曼生, 1768-1822) was a calligrapher and purple sand craftsman born in Qiantang, Zhejiang Province during the Qing Dynasty. He had several style names, including Zigong and Mansheng, which were longer than Xing, Cao, Zhuan, Li, and other styles. His running script was steep and elegant, and his script was unique in the Qing Dynasty, with vertical and horizontal lines. In seal cutting, he was influenced by the Qin and Han seal seals, as well as Ding Jing, Huang Yi, and others. His seal strokes were square and folded, with bold and natural knife work, sharp edges, ancient clumsiness, and unrestrained vigor. He was one of the “Xiling Eight Masters” of seal cutting.
Around the 21st year of Jiaqing (1816), Chen Mansheng served as governor of Liyang County. He was skilled in purple sand crafts and even painted eighteen patterns of purple sand pots himself. He also invited Yang Pengnian, Yang Fengnian, and Shao Erquan to make pots with him.
Types of Man Sheng Teapots
Man Sheng’s Zisha Clay Teapots come in 18 distinctive types, including:
- Shí piáo
- Lì yīn
- Páo guā
- Jǐng lán
- Hàn wǎ
- Jí zhí
- Rǔ dǐng
- Zhōu pán
- Zhù chǔ
- Shí diào
- Jìng wǎ
- Diàn hé
- Bàn piáo
- Hé dòu
- Què yuè
These teapots are known for their exceptional craftsmanship and quality, and each type has its own unique characteristics and design. They are highly valued by tea enthusiasts and collectors in the world of Chinese tea culture.
The Man Sheng Shi Piao teapot
The Man Sheng Shi Piao teapot (曼生石瓢) is a unique and highly regarded teapot that is prized for its exceptional craftsmanship and elegant design. The name “Shipiao” (石瓢) refers to the shape of the teapot, which resembles a gourd or a stone ladle.
Man Sheng He Huan Teapot
Man Sheng He Huan Teapot (曼生合欢) teapot is a highly valued and sought-after teapot that is prized for its exceptional craftsmanship and elegant design. The name “合欢” (hé huān) refers to the design of the teapot, which features a handle and spout that resemble the branches and leaves of a mimosa tree.
Heng Yun Teapot
The Heng Yun Teapot (横云) is a type of teapot that is highly valued for its unique design and exceptional craftsmanship. The name “横云” (héng yún) translates to “crossing clouds” in English, which is a reference to the teapot’s distinctive shape.
Man Sheng Shi Dao Ti Liang Teapot
The name “石铫提梁” (shí dāo tí liáng) refers to the design of the teapot, which features a handle that is shaped like a stone ladle and a spout that is shaped like a spoon.
Man Sheng Ru Ou Teapot
Man Sheng Ru Ou teapot (曼生乳瓯) is named for its unique milk bottle shape, which is referred to as “乳瓯” (rǔ ōu) in Chinese. This distinctive design is characterized by a curved body that tapers towards the bottom, a narrow neck, and a small lid on top. With its elegant and functional shape, the teapot is highly regarded by tea enthusiasts and collectors alike.
Man Sheng Pao Gua Teapot
Man Sheng Pao Gua teapot (曼生匏瓜) is named after its unique shape, which is modeled after the gourd fruit and referred to as “匏瓜” (páo guā) in Chinese.
Man Sheng Que Yue Teapot
The name Que Yue “却月” refers to the unique shape of the teapot, which is designed to resemble the crescent moon.
Man Sheng He Dou Teapot
The name He Dou (合斗) refers to the teapot’s distinctive shape, which resembles a traditional measuring scoop used in farming.
Man Sheng Ban Piao Teapot
Man Sheng Ban Piao teapot (曼生半瓢) is a highly valued and sought-after teapot in the world of Chinese tea culture. The name “半瓢” (bàn piáo) refers to the teapot’s distinctive shape, which resembles half of a gourd or a dipper.
Man Sheng Jing Lan Teapot
The name Jing Lan (井栏) refers to the teapot’s distinctive design, which features a lattice pattern reminiscent of a well’s wooden guardrail.
Man Sheng Zhou Pan Teapot
The name Zhou Pan (周盘) refers to the teapot’s unique design, which features a circular body and a flat lid that resembles a plate.
Man Sheng Nan Qua Ti Liang Teapot
The name Nan Gua Ti Liang (南瓜提梁) refers to the teapot’s unique design, which resembles a pumpkin with a handle on top.
Man Sheng Shi Piao Ti Liang Teapot
The name Shi Piao Ti Liang (石瓢提梁) refers to the teapot’s unique design, which resembles a gourd or a ladle made of stone with a handle on top.
Man Sheng Shi Bian Teapot
The name Shi Bien (石扁) refers to the teapot’s unique shape, which is flat and rectangular like a stone.
Man Sheng Li Yin Teapot
The name Li Yin (笠荫) refers to the teapot’s unique design, which features a lid that is shaped like a traditional Chinese bamboo hat.
Man Sheng Ban Yue Teapot
The name Ban Yue (半月) refers to the teapot’s unique design, which features a crescent-shaped body.
Man Sheng Ban Gua Teapot
The name Ban Gua (半瓜) refers to the teapot’s unique design, which resembles half of a gourd.