Name: Xishi Teapot, Literally Lady of the West. According to legends, was one of the renowned Four Beauties of ancient China.
Year: 1977-1988 (Green Label period)
Volume: 93 ml
Material: Zi ni (Hei Xing Sha, Literally Black Star) Med/High-fired.
Seal: Mao Ying Hong
Handle: Ying Hong
Lid: Ying Hong
Filter: Single hole
The artist who made this teapot, Mao Ying Hong, is one of the most famous Xishi teapot makers from the factory One along with Xu Fu Zhen and Xu Xi Hua. Consider in Chinese like the 三大高手. Lit. The Great Three Masters/Master Hands.
This is a Factory 1 teapot that uses a premium blended Purple clay during the Green Label period. This kind of clay has a high content of Iron and Quartz. The appearance of the clay is lighter brown in colour compared to the regular purple clay.
The craftsmanship is very good, the lid is slightly loose and the pouring speed is 14 seconds with slight dripping.
This teapot was used and cleaned, but there are still traces of usage under the lid. Before using it I advise you to rinse it with boiling water. Then rinse it with room temperature water and smell inside of the teapot to check if there is some clay smell. Repeat the procedure until the clay smell goes away.
Then you can start making tea but It might take 1-2 weeks, if you use it daily, until it makes decent tea.
You could also follow the more complicated method of boiling the teapot, but it takes more time and the teapot might get broken or cracked during the procedure.
This clay usually goes well with darker teas in general, medium to high roasted Oolongs, semi-aged Sheng Puer or old Puer, Shu Puer, etc. But it might do well with other teas. You could compare against porcelain to decide what teas brew well in it.
I advise you to experiment with different teas and find the best match according to your taste.
When buying a Factory One pot please be aware that: Generally speaking, these Teapots have no perfect craftsmanship compared to many modern teapots.
You can expect some natural kiln cracks on the surface of the clay. However, it is not like a crack that could be caused by the user that penetrates through the other side clay. You also might find a not perfectly aligned spout, knob and handle, tooling marks on the lid and mouth of the teapot, etc. You should also expect other natural signs from the kiln, i.e. black spots, which is iron oxide that melted during the firing. Inside and outside of the teapot you may also find some mica chips that look like metal spots. Silvery in appearance.
Regarding the lid craftsmanship, rarely you can find a perfect lid fit. Usually, the lid is a bit loose with slight dripping.
NOTE: A Piece of sand Jump out during the firing, see last picture. However, doesn’t penetrate through the clay. There is no leaking or any damage because of this. So it won’t affect the use of the pot in any way.
About the maker:
Mao Yinghong, a well-known old artist from Zisha No.1 Factory, studied under Wang Yinxian in the 1970s. His daughter Wu Yaping is also the wife of Yao Zhiyuan, the son of Wang Yinxian. The works produced in the Factory One are quite diverse, mainly unadorned teapots, one of her most famous works is the Xi Shi pot.
In 1998, she retired after the restructuring of the Factory and still continued to make pots. However, due to academic qualifications, she could not be evaluated on professional titles. After 2014, she was rarely seen making pots.