In 2012 Tony Ren went to a Chinese Painting and Antiques Authentication Roadshow in Penang, Malaysia organized by Malaysian Art Expert and collector Her Wei Yee whom Tony Ren respected as one of the best Old Zisha Hu experts in Malaysia and included in the panel of authentication experts from China was Yang Pau Jie of the Palace Museum of Beijing, China among many other big names.
Tony Ren took his turn in the queue and sat down when his number was next and placed a few Early Qing Zisha Hus for Her Wei Yee to examine and evaluate their Niandes, etc…He commented patiently and nonchalantly until the moment we show a Pot.
On seeing Pot No:50 and examining it (see pictures of Shi DaBin Pot) he lost his calm and remarked excitedly, “ This is a genuine Shi DaBin Pot!”
Tony Ren asked him again, “Are you sure it’s a real Shi DaBin Pot?”
“Yes, I am sure: the spout and shape are Late Ming style and the inscriptions are Shi DaBin’s writings”.
If you think this is the only excitement shown by a Malaysian Old Zisha Hu expert on seeing what he thinks is an authentic Shi DaBin, you should hear about another excitement( and even exasperation when he could not acquire Pot No:50) from Peng QingFu, arguably the most knowledgeable Taiwanese about Old Zisha Hu and a great teacher to Huang Qian Liang, Liu Chuan Sin, Li Min to name a few big names in Zisha Hu.(that was before we found out Peng QingFu is the master organized fraudster who sold the fakest Pots and who is the source of chaos, misery and destruction in Old Zisha Hu).
Yes, Peng QingFu!
In 2012, we have the fortune( or misfortune depending on what you think of it) of meeting Peng QingFu for the first time in Taipei, Taiwan. (we were told he lives in Taichung, Taiwan). In fact, we met him several times before, during and after the October 2012 JSL Zisha Hu Auction because we were told Peng QingFu is the biggest and highest authority on Old Zisha Hu. At the cafe lounge in the Grand Hyatt Hotel where we were staying, we brought some exquisite Early Zhuni Hus and two pictures of Pot No:50-the Pot and it’s inscriptions to show Peng QingFu. Like Her Wei Yee, the Malaysian Old Zisha Hu expert, he was relaxed and nonchalant when examining our Early Qing Pots but loses his cool and got excited when he saw the pictures of Pot No:50. He immediately asked, “ Where is this Pot now?”, ‘Is this your Pot?”, “Did you bring it with you?”, “Is it for sale? we can help you get a very good price for the Pot in JSL Auction!” and “Can you bring the Pot next time you come to Taiwan or I can fly to Malaysia ?” All in all, Peng QingFu asked us at least 8 times about Pot No:50 just before, during and after the October 2012 JSL Zisha Hu Auction.
(Note: JSL stopped Zisha Hu auction in 1998 due to the Asian Financial Crisis and only started again in October 2012 because of one reason and one reason only: the support of Ren Fu Collection’s massive collection of Old Zisha Hus which JSL believe we will keep on supporting them but when we attacked JSL for frauds committed by Peng QingFu and Huang Qian Liang after the auction, JSL’s name got so damaged by Ren Fu Collection’s exposure of its insider’s frauds that it stopped Zisha Hu auctions altogether.)
Now Ladies and Gentlemen, should we be very happy that these two Old Zisha Hu experts, one a respected Malaysian collector-cum-expert who claims that our Pot No:50 is a real Shi DaBin and the other a most notorious Taiwanese Old Hand-cum-master fraudster who even though did not mention the Pot No:50 is Shi DaBin but whose body language and behaviour towards the Pot indicated something very special and extraordinary about the Pot that an allusion to a real Shi DaBin Pot can only be the fitting conclusion? ( in fact there are a few more experts who say our Pot No:50 can be a possible Shi DaBin.)
What then is the verdict we hear you asked?
Before we open the question about Pot No:50’s true maker to the on-line learning or knowledgeable audience and ask for their opinions, let’s take a quick look at this giant of an Old Potter’s name: Shi DaBin and Ren Fu Collection’s Pot No:50.
Shi DaBin came into the scene in the Late Wanli period and he started potting by using moulds but later fashioned his Pots free-hand.
Free-hand potting and piece moulds potting went together and not to the exclusion of the other.
In Gong Chun’s time(ZhengDe’s reign:1506-1521) moulds were nothing new in the pottery trade. The technique of free-hand potting with the help of piece moulds has been a dominant method of Yixing potters in the Ming, Qing and even until now,
As we all know Gong Chun was a boy-servant of a scholar named Wu Yi Shan who spent some times at the Jinsha temple where Gong Chun picked up the art of potting from the monks in the temple and later himself potted so successfully that he became known as the “ Father of the Zisha Teapot”.
After Gong Chun, there are no uncontroversial records of any Potter who was active during the 80 years which elapsed between the reigns of ZhengDe and Wanli.
Some writers believe there were five co-founding Potters during these 80 years. They are Dong Han, Zhao Liang, Yuan Chang(1522-1566), Shi Peng(Jiajing reign) and Li Mao Lin(Wanli reign).
Very little is known of Shi Peng the father of Shi DaBin.
And as for Shi DaBin, the only uncontroversial and concrete proofs of his existence and works are found in the seven archaeologically excavated Shi DaBin Pots in mainland China.
Oops, sorry! Maybe an eighth excavated Shi DaBin with archaeological records found in Ren Fu Collection, that is, Pot No:50( all the other Shi DaBin Pots in Ren Fu Collection are Old Copies).
We hear you asked: what about Ren Fu Collection’s opinion because we were the ones who excavated Pot No:50 and so have the archaeological knowledge?
We have mixed feelings: one minute we think Pot No:50 can be a possible Shi DaBin and the next minute we think it’s too good to be true for Ren Fu Collection to own a real Shi DaBin. Unlike Ren Fu Collection’s Pot No:249 or 683 which we are very confident are the genuine Chen MingYuan and Pan-Hu respectively, we are honestly not sure about Pot No:50 even though it could be a possible Shi DaBin.
Now, if you like, let’s look at the archaeological records of Pot No:50 in the Ren Fu Collection again.
In the new book titled, “ Saving Old Purple-Sand Clay Teapots”, we put the Niande of Pot No:50 as KangXi/Shunzhi not because we think the Pot is KangXi/Shunzhi period but because we do not know and therefore we follow the Niande of the big disintegrated grave which had been “cannibalized” by a Qian Long 58th Year reign grave(see a diagram of excavation site). And as we have explained before, from our vast experience and knowledge of tombs/graves, it took at least 120 years for a grave to completely disintegrate and therefore this disintegrated grave got to be at least 120 years earlier than the Qian Long 58th Year Reign grave which would mean the disintegrated grave or Pot No:50 could be Shunzhi, ChongZhen, Tianqi and even Late Wanli.
The Pot No:50 was made from coarse sandy Zisha clay and its heavy body shape and spout are Late Ming style. Lastly, there were no Rouchen teacups excavated with Pot No:50 which mean Pot No:50 must be Shunzhi and earlier because Rouchen teacups started to appear in KangXi’s reign and all our Shunzhi and Late Ming Pots did not come with Rouchen teacups to prove the point. So Pot No:50 could be an Old Shunzhi copy or genuine ChongZhen Shi DaBin.
Unless there are more pieces of evidence that we can expand on, our opinion can only go so far today.
The next big posting is about Hui MengChen, the most popular and well-known but yet unknown and mysterious Old Master Potter and what Ren Fu Collection’s Pot No:387 has got to do with him. Ren Fu Collection should be the most informed and knowledgeable about the Old Master Potter Hui Meng Chen by reason of its having the most excavated Meng Chen Pots with archaeological records in the world. ( a clue to Pot No:387: no Rouchen teacups were excavated with the Pot too)
Enjoy Ren Fu Collection’s historical “One Belt, One Road” archaeological posting and have a Safe, Healthy and Happy Chinese New Year! (if you can)
P/s…Ren Fu Collection is coming out with a new Certificate of Authenticity for its teapots and tea wares and also we can issue Certificate of Authenticity for Pots, not belonging to us, that we authenticated for people. The certificate will have two signatures to prevent forgeries.
Zisha Hu also called Yixing teapot also called Purple-Sand clay teapot.
Santoh Zhuni Hu also called Chao Zhou Zhuni Hu also called Chaoshan teapot.