We purchased several of these blue & white porcelain teapots from a Chinese ceramics importer in New York 20 + years ago. The teapots have been languishing in the back of our warehouse, and came to light this spring when we cleared out a lifetime of this and that. The importer is long gone so information about these teapots is non-existant other than what can be gleaned from the color, style and marks on the bottom of the vessel.
This teapot is a skillful historic reproduction of a porcelain teapot made in the Imperial Porcelain Kilns for the Wanli Emperor (r. 1572-1620), the thirteenth emperor of the Ming Dynasty. Blue & white decorated porcelain wares were the fashion of the day in this era of the Ming Dynasty.
Our Wanli teapots are from a limited edition production of 1,000 teapots that were faithfully made in China the 1970’s. This generous-sized teapot features 6 painted panels depicting people enjoying leisure activities. The across-the-top handle is an early Chinese-style handle, and pre-dates the later ‘C’ style side handle that became popular with European tea drinkers in the late 17th century.
In 2007 an authentic, original Imperial teapot fashioned with this same shape and was sent to auction in London. The teapot had once been owned by Queen Elizabeth 1st, and the history of the teapot is the stuff of legends and fame. Click here to read the story of the auction as it appeared in the DailyMail.UK.com.
I can honestly say that I have never seen a single one of these historic reproduction teapots for sale anywhere in commerce since the time we purchased the ones we own. This is a spectacular piece for collectors of Chinese blue & white porcelain. It is very well made and would be a welcome showpiece to a fine collection of Asian ceramics. It is a beautiful example of the vivid and exuberant style of Chinese Ming dynaslty blue & white Chinese porcelain.
I believe that these teapots were made to be admired rather than used. The interior of the teapot has a single hole fashioned for a strainer, something less than desirable for serious tea drinking. And the size is quite large by Chinese tea drinking and tea steeping customs. But the vessel is fully glazed so it is up to each owner of the teapot to use it or not. It would work perfectly as a vessel to serve tea that had been steeped in another teapot.