Zi Sha Teapots - History
Zi sha, purple sand, use dates back many millennia but the it is only in the last 500 or so years that zi sha clay has become a popular material for teapot production. Many point to the fact that during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), around 500 years ago, people began to prepare tea with whole leaves rather than tea powder, as is still the case in Japan. This change in fashions meant that using a closed pot that retained heat but did not conduct heat to the handle as well as being easy to pour was a huge advantage. Previous such vessels had been crafted to hold and serve alcohols.
The style of many Yi Xing, Zi Sha teapots that are recognisable today are thought to have been popularised by the Qing Dynasty Emperor Yong Zheng, who reined between 1723 and 1735. Up until then many tea pots were still glazed in extravagant colours and patterns. Yong Zheng commissioned a set of very specific designs that remained in the royal collection for many generations.
The first foreign references to Yi Xing wares were during the 17 century when Portuguese traders referred to them as Buccara, meaning wide mouth.