Object: Teapot

E/1955/18/49
China
Ch’ing Dynasty
K’ang Hsi Period (1661-1722)
Materials:  Chalcedony

This object is a 4.5” high teapot with lid constructed of chalcedony.  The light gray colored teapot has engraved dragon designs on the sides.  The Imperial Dragon or Lung was considered to be a benevolent spiritual animal. Possessed with wisdom and power, the dragon symbolized the Emperors of China.

Chalcedony is a term referring to a variety of cryptocrystalline quartz gemstones. Chalcedony can be virtually any color of the rainbow. It is commonly pale blue, yellow, brown or gray with a wax-like luster. The gemstone is found in sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks.  Because of its abundance, durability, and beauty, chalcedony was a prized raw material by early humans. The earliest recorded use of chalcedony was for projectile points, knives, tools, and containers such as cups and bowls.

The teapot has been dated to the K’ang His Period of the Ch’ing Dynasty.  K’ang-hsi was the fourth emperor of the Ch’ing dynasty (1661-1722). He promoted learning in the arts and sciences, reduced taxes, and promoted water conservation which earned him a reputation for benevolence.

China is the homeland of tea. It is believed that China had tea-shrubs five to six thousand years ago, and human cultivation of tea-plants dates back about two thousand years. Tea from China began to be known the world over more than a thousand years ago. At present more than forty countries in the world grow tea with Asian countries producing 90% of the world’s total output. All tea trees in other countries have their origin directly or indirectly in China. The word for tea leaves or tea as a drink in many countries are derivatives from the Chinese character “cha.” The English word “tea” sounds similar to the pronunciation of its counterpart in Xiamen (Amoy). The habit of tea drinking spread to Japan in the 6th century, but it was not introduced to Europe and America until the 17th century. [Debra Taylor]

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