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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » September 30, 2009
Wrocław
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Magic in a Teapot
September 30, 2009   
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Teapots from China's famous Yixing factory are on display at the National Museum in Wrocław in an exhibition entitled Chinese Tea: Teapots from Yixing. The exhibit consists of 160 teapots made between 1950 and 2005, from classic designs to teapots shaped like houses, boats, bridges, animals and humans.

China is the home of the Camelia sinensis plant whose leaves are now known as tea. The Chinese were the first to make and drink tea infusions. Tea-making techniques changed over centuries and the first teapots were made in China in the 16th century. They soon went on to become the centerpiece of tea sets and an indispensable household item in every Chinese home. The appearance of teapots evolved through the years and materials used to make teapots changed from porcelain, stoneware clay, metal, glass and even rocks. Lavishly ornamented teapots made of gold and silver were used by the unsophisticated nouveau riche, while monks and educated people preferred simple, calmly colored teapots from the Yixing manufactory. The production process involved clay with a high content of ferrous oxides, ranging from yellowish to rusty to dark brown bordering on black. What made Yixing teapots so unique is also the multitude of shapes. Alongside abstract and geometrical forms, the factory has produced date-shaped teapots and ones modeled after lotus flowers and bamboo shoots. The forms and materials are ideal to brew tea leaves. The small teapots with porous walls heat up slowly and keep the tea warm.

M.H.
Wrocław, National Museum, 5 Powstańców Warszawy Sq., open through Nov. 15.
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