It’s well know in China that the region around Wuxi is the hub of Chinese ceramics. Both Tai Bo and Fan Li made concerted efforts to develop the industry, but the history of the craft goes back almost 7,000 years, dating right back to the very beginnings of Chinese Civilisation.
The surprisingly comprehensive China Yixing Ceramics Museum exhibits pieces from every age right back to the dawn of the craft, and visitors can witness the steady progression into modernity as techniques and methods improved throughout the ages. Older pieces are far from crude-smooth shapes with precisely interconnecting parts were developed early. Later on, delicate patterning was achieved by pressing fabrics into the clay. As the ages passed, so too did designs become more complex, and the names of great and skilful potters began to rise in the annals of the industry.
Of those artists who are commemorated in the museum, perhaps the most famous is Chen Mingyuan, who lived and taught his craft during the Qing dynasty. His work is typified by pieces that mimic natural objects like fruit and vegetables, worked into designs for items such as teapots and teacups.
The secret behind Yixing’s superior ceramics is right in the soil---Yixing’s unique deposits of Five Color clays provide a rich resource for this artistry and industry that has belonged to Yixing for millennia.
Yixing’s Dingshu Prefecture, often known as Dingshan, is home to hundreds of small enterprises engaged in this traditional craft. Locals today still honour the influence of Fan Li and Xi Shi in the industry’s development---a statue of the pair holding ceramic works stands proudly on the region’s main thoroughfare.