Yixing Teapot Types
Purple, Red (Zhuni, Hongni) and Green Clay

There are three types of yixing teapot - purple clay, red clay (hongni, zhuni) and green clay.

There are countless types of Yixing clay. But most teapots are made from just three broad families of base clays.

Understand the difference between them, and you are off to a winning start.

Purple Clay (Zini)

The most common type of Yixing clay, purple clay is also known as the "rock within the rock", or the "clay within the clay".

This is because it is buried deep inside a clay mine. High pressure causes it to acquire an iron-like solidity.

There are many kinds of purple clay. They can appear purple, yellow, red or green after firing.

Green Clay (Duanni)

Situated at the top of a mine, green clay is more tender. Compared to purple clay, it tolerates lower firing temperature. It is also more scarce.

There is a type of green clay called Benshan which is used to make pear-skin pot, which has an attractive light yellow color.

Green clay is usually used as outside coating to add colors. It is very seldom used to make the entire pot.

Red Clay (Hongni or Zhuni)

The red clay is located at the bottom of a clay mine. So it is very scarce. The high pressure also makes it very hard.

It is also known as hongni or zhuni. It probably is the most sought-after of all clay type.

The raw clay materials is orangy yellow. After firing, it can have various shades of red and purple, depending on the level of iron it contains.

Due to its scarcity, it can be mined on its own, or extracted from other clay types.

Today, few Yixing teapot is made entirely from red clay. Some pot such as the Shuiping Pot uses it to make the pot body. Most other times, it is used as surface coating to a purple clay teapot.

Buying Red Claypot (Hongni or Zhuni)

The original mine is located at at Zhaozhuang. Due to its scarcity, this mine no longer contains any red clay.

By the 1970s, production has switched to Chuanfu. By the 1980s, production has again switched to Fudong.

Zhuni extracted from Fudong is as heavy as a piece of glass. It makes a loud clinking noise.

Is it possible to get a real red clay Yixing teapot?

The answer is yes, but you have to seek out reputable sellers and well-known artists.

Making teapot is a long term affair. A lot of red clay has been mined many years ago and left to mature. Although the material is scarce, some artists still have access to them.

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