The 18 types of Man Sheng teapots were designed by painter and seal engraver during the Qing Dynasty – Chen Hong Shou (1768-1830), and handcrafted by Yixing zisha (purple clay) craft master Yang Peng Nian. Chen Hong Shou styled himself as “Man Sheng”(曼生), hence the title “Man Sheng teapots”.
In the era of Man Sheng, the zisha art was relatively mature in terms of production and appreciation. However, there was little innovation, and it had come to a period of imitation and repetition. While being the magistrate of Yixing County, Man Sheng visited the labor scenes of the potters and became very interested in zisha ware and the zisha fabrication. Man Sheng also met the local potter Yang Peng Nian in Yixing, and appreciated Yang’s talent and his natural style of handcrafting. These laid the groundwork for their collaboration of Man Sheng teapots.
Based on the unique aesthetic standards, Man Sheng integrated the artistic forms of painting, calligraphy, poetry writing, seal carving and sculpture into the zisha art, and designed 18 types of teapots with simple shapes and elegant styles. These designs were handed over to Yang Peng Nian so he could realize these designs. These teapots, as highly appreciated classic works of the zisha circle and the art circle, mark another prosperous period in the history of zisha art.
Instead of complicated decorations and stifling styles, the main feature of the Man Sheng teapots is the creativity and the simplicity. There is a lot of space left on the body of the teapot with inscriptions engraved on it. Different types of Man Sheng teapots have different themes for the inscriptions.
A Man Sheng teapot that we can appreciate today usually has the seal inscription of the “A Man Tuo Shi” (阿曼陀室) at the bottom of the teapot, and the seal carving of “Peng Nian” (彭年) under the handle. “A Man Tuo Shi” was the name Man Sheng called his study where he designed the teapots, and “Peng Nian” naturally refers to the craft master Yang Peng Nian.
The teapots designed by Man Sheng was summed up in 18 types:
There were several different designs with slight change of details under the same type, but the basics were the same. As cultural heritage, each of the 18 types has its own merits.
If you’re interested in owning a Yixing teapot in one of the above styles you may have a look at Teasenz’ Yixing teapot collection.
Let’s take a glance at some famous man sheng artworks below that are available for display in art museums around China.
The term “He Huan” means a happy gathering. This teapot is an excellent choice for special occasions to emphasize unity.
Height: 8.5 cm
He Huan Teapot 2: height: 7.9cm
Jing Lan means ‘column well’ (or “well fence”) as the high profile shape of this teapot resembles a column shaped well.
Height: 8.6 cm, opening Diameter: 7.9 cm
Height: 8.8 cm, opening Diameter: 12.2 cm
Height: 7.8 cm, width: 13 cm
Height: 10.5 cm
What makes this style of Yixing teapot special is the handle that resembles the ancient ‘tiao’ cooking vessel.
Height: 11 cm, opening Diametre: 5.7 cm
Height: 7.5 cm, opening Diameter: 6.8 cm
Height: 9 cm
Opening Diameter: 6.3 cm
A Yixing teapot shape that stand on 3 feet and a handle.
Height: 12.8 cm