February 17, 2018
For the upcoming occasion of Chinese New Year, Poly Culture Art Center will open the “Essence in Zisha: Eastern Intangible Cultural Heritage of Yixing Stoneware” exhibition on February 17, 2018. This exhibition is the first time that such a large number of prominent contemporary zisha masterpieces are exhibiting in North America. The exhibition will feature over 300 pieces from 200 contemporary zisha artisans including 10 national level masters: Gu Shaopei, Bao Zhiqiang, Cao Yalin, Cao Wanfen, Mao Guoqiang, Wu Ming, Ji Yishun, Chen Guoliang, Chu Jiquan, and Chen Jianping. The works are of various zisha forms, such as: teapots, cups, trays, sculptures, flowerpots and tea pets. The exhibition is of great significance in its commitment to expanding the influence of contemporary zisha makers internationally along with promoting traditional Chinese culture and strengthening cultural exchange in pottery between China and the West. The exhibition also brings Chinese cultural characteristics to the Canada-China Year of Tourism 2018. Ms. Tong Xiaoling, Consul General of the Chinese Consulate General in Vancouver; Mr. Woo Yuen Pau, Senator to the Senate of Canada; and Ms. Chen Yi, Managing Director and CEO of Poly Culture North America will be attending the opening ceremony and delivering addresses to the participants.
Zisha culture is unique to the East and serves a significant role in traditional Chinese culture. On the subject of tea appreciation, it is often stated that water functions as the mother and that the tea ware functions as the father. Although there are numerous ways of consuming tea over the ages, there have always been particularities about the preparation of tea and the wares used in the process. Tea stoneware made from zisha originates from the Mid-Northern Song Dynasty and was popularized in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, totaling to over a thousand years of history. The prevalence of zisha teapots in the Ming and Qing Dynasties are mainly attributed to the changes in tea drinking methods. Tea appreciation and critique in the Ming Dynasty was very popular, many people desire timely convenience and utilizes a simple and direct “pinching” method for preparing tea. Through usage, people found that tea brewed from a zisha teapot had a meaningful mellow tea favor and can perfectly convey the original color and flavor of the tea. Zisha from the Yixing region are of superior quality due to the texture and quality of Yixing’s zisha material, due to the clay containing the three minerals: iron, quartz, and mica. After firing into tea wares, the teapot’s water absorption and porosity rate is considerably high. When used in preparing tea, it results in pleasant color, smell, and taste of the tea. Tea prepared from a zisha teapot is mellow with tea taste, causing zisha stoneware to be the best choice for the consumption of tea. With its unique mineral material, superb craftsmanship, natural color, and different aesthetic styles, zisha teapots have become enduring in the history of arts and crafts. On May 20, 2006, China’s State Council approved the inclusion of Yixing zisha pottery production in the first series of state-level intangible cultural heritage.
Zisha stoneware have been objects of cultural exchange with Europe from as early as 1620 and the teapots opened an avenue for cultural exchange between the East and West. Japan also considers zisha wares as valuable works of art and have specially organized people to visit China in order to learn the craft of making zisha teapots. There were several international exchange activities centered around zisha culture after the 1990s. In 1997, Yixing’s ceramic research center, hosted by Ah Liang and Zhang Zhian invited over 40 foreign teapot-makers to the No.5 Zisha Factory to learn and study with dozens of zisha artists. Starting at Yixing, foreign participants took part in the largest exchange of zisha between Chinese and foreigners to China, realizing zisha culture’s international audience and opening an active exchange of perspective between China and the West. In addition, the Yixing County Ceramics Association organized two events for Yixing teapot artists to visit Japan and carry out ceramic exchange activities. Also, many other organizations of teapot artists partook in attending the “Annual National Ceramics Education Conference” in the United States. Moreover, the Yixing County Ceramics Association also participates in the “Dong Hu Xi Jian: Yixing Zisha Art Exhibition” hosted by London’s National Tourism Administration, demonstrating the teapot making process live at the British Museum. In 2018, zisha stoneware are once again stepping outside of China and into the world. This exhibition is significant in that it features an unprecedented number of high-quality renowned contemporary zisha on display. The exhibition hopes to expand international influence of famous contemporary zisha works to North America.
The tradition of hand-made teapot craftsmanship is a valued and note-worthy intangible cultural heritage in China. Zisha pieces are regarded as treasures and are collected widely by renowned Chinese and foreign museums, galleries and collectors. Prominent collections have been owned by The Prince-elector of Saxony and The King of Poland, Augustus II the Strong, who owned a collection of 117 Yixing teapots since 1692 and are now on display as part of the Dresden National Art Collection in Germany (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden). The British Museum currently houses 116 Yixing teapots from 1850 to 1880 donated by Augustus Wollaston Franks. The Victoria and Albert Museum in Britain has a collection with around 120 pieces that contain famous works by Hui Mengchen and Chen Mingyuan among many others that were popular in early Qing Dynasty for exports to Europe. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the United States also houses renowned teapots by Ming Dynasty pot-maker Dabin such as his “Meihua” (Plum Blossom) pot among others. In recent years, zisha teapots have been setting records in the art auction market. The “Songshu (Squirrel) Ten Piece Tea Set” by the prominent Mr. Gu Jingzhou was acquired by Mr. Yang Zi, the chairman of China Juli Group for 92 million yuan at the 2015 Beijing Dongzheng Autumn Auction, setting the record for Chinese zisha at auction. Auction records such as these are not uncommon and reflect the development and vitality of contemporary zisha.
Since its establishment, Poly Culture North America has been committed in bilateral cultural exchange and international cooperation between China and North America. Since opening, Poly Culture North America has successfully held several exhibitions and performances such as: the Vancouver debut performance for the China Philharmonic Orchestra; “The Antiques of the Qianlong Period: A Mirror Reflecting a Chinese Emperor’s Attitudes to the Past and the West” exhibition; the “Selected Bronze Censers of the Ming and Qing Dynasties” exhibition; the “Exquisite Chinese Jades Throughout the Ages” exhibition along with many others, exhibiting the cultural heritage of China. Ms. Chen Yi, the Managing Director and CEO of Poly Culture North America states: “In the beautiful tradition of celebration for the Chinese New Years festival, I sincerely hope that Sino-Canadian culture will be further expanded through the ‘Essence in Zisha: Eastern Intangible Cultural Heritage of Yixing Stoneware’ exhibition to enhance contributions to the local community in 2018. Concurrently, we will be hosting the “12 Girls Band: 2018 Chinese New Years Concert” to offer a musical delight for both the Chinese and Canadian audience.”
The “Essence in Zisha: Eastern Intangible Cultural Heritage of Yixing Stoneware” exhibition will be on display from February 17 to May 31, 2018. This will be an extensive opportunity to showcase zisha culture in North America along with sharing the refined aesthetic style of the masters to North American ceramic and pottery enthusiasts. Concurrently, this is an opportunity for developing the art exchange platform of Chinese and Western culture through the introduction of exhibitions at the Poly Culture Art Center. The “Essence in Zisha: Eastern Intangible Cultural Heritage of Yixing Stoneware” exhibition will be running from February 17 to May 31, 2018. Public visits are welcome in sharing the appreciation of contemporary zisha pieces. During the three-month exhibition period, Poly Culture Art Center will hold several events such as the “Zisha Art and Culture Salon” along with VIP tasting activities. After the end of the exhibition in Vancouver, the exhibition will continue touring to spread the charm of zisha culture.
Visitors are welcomed to visit the Poly Culture North America official website and WeChat account for more exhibition related information.
Poly Culture North America Official Website: www.polyculture.us