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Jingdezhen Day 2 - Yu Xinrong & Kiki

On my first trip around Taoxichuan last year I came across Yu Xinrong and his wife Kiki. I was really struck by their style and the pieces that Yu Xinrong made so this year I headed back to see them and learn more.  I arranged to meet Kiki at Taoxichuan which is a pretty magical place - old industrial government ceramic factories turned into workshops and small shops.  There is always a calm air here as you wander around - a far cry from the crazy streets outside.  

We found each other quickly [thank goodness for WeChat!] and jumped in a taxi to head over to the studio. Pulling up outside a high rise apartment block I was surprised to get in the lift and head to the 27th floor.  Here, in an apartment overlooking the streets of Jingdezhen Yu Xinrong or Xing Xiang [the name given to him by his teacher] practices his craft with Kiki by his side to help him promote and sell it.  This is their story and the story of their work as told to me by Kiki!  I hope you enjoy this insight into their lives and works and that when you see Xing Xiang's cups in our Tea House you feel a little closer to the sentiment behind their creation and the wonderful couple that create them.


“Hand-Made” is a word with passion and deep meanings,and in fact this artistry has been inherited from generations to generations in China for many thousand years.  Nowadays, the market is flooded with machine-made lifestyle products that are rough, standard, and undesirable.  It is upsetting that and the true art of hand-made lifestyle artworks are slowly being forgotten and being washed away with time.  We love hand-making arts, because they are so limited and valuable, yet they are so down-to-earth.  They give people a very authentic, simple, and relaxing feeling, and they help us maintain a well-balanced, peaceful, and positive heart'


"My husband is called Yu Xinrong [by his family] and also Xing Xiang [the name given to him by his teacher] is a Ceramic Artist who was born in 1987 in Jingzhou, Wubei Province, China.

Following the teaching and guidance of Professor Sun JiDong, Xing Xiang focused his research in the Buddha Arts of the Wei and Jin dynasties and graduated with a bachelor degree from the University of Yan Shan in 2012.  After traveling to different places, he settled in Jindezhen to continue his research in ceramics

In 2014, Xing Xiang established the 無真色山 Studio, and focussed on wholeheartedly creating and researching Buddha sculptures, tea wares and various utensils.  

Creating Buddha artworks is not merely about achieving an understanding towards the art of sculpture, religious culture and traditions. It is more about understanding how artists and craftsmen connect and communicate their inner heart with each artwork, since the old ages to the present time.  Being a follower of Buddhism, it is about the respect and worship to Buddha, and a process of self-discipline and self-development.

Before starting to create a Buddha artwork, Xing Xiang will hand-write Buddhist scriptures for one month, preparing his heart to the most proper position, to show the respect to Buddha and Buddhism.  This is a very important step, and it contributes to the special and sacred quality of each Buddha artwork.  In the process of creating Buddha artworks, Xing Xiang will continue to recite Buddhist scriptures to keep a peaceful and wisdom-filled heart.

Xing Xiang shared "I wish everyone who sees my Buddha artworks can find peace, calmness, and happiness"

In addition to the creation of Buddha sculptures Xing Xiang also spent 3 years researching the glaze art of “Zhi Ye” and successfully developed his own specific glaze of水墨志野 , and applies this special glaze to his artworks.  Kiki shares more information below :-


The origin of “Zhi Ye”

“Zhi Ye” evolves from white “Tian Mu”.  “Tian Mu” is the Japanese name given to a category of Song Dynasty black glazed ceramic in China. (Mainly include Jian Kiln in Fujian, and Jizhou Kiln of Jiangxi.) 

In the Southern Song Dynasty, there are a large number of Japanese monks and craftsmen who comes to Chinafor learning, and they specially adore the “Tian Mu”ceramics and the “Longquan Celadon Kiln” of Zhejiang.  Interestingly, the five most famous Kilns of the Song Dynasty: Guan Kiln, Ge Kiln, Ru Kiln, Ding Kiln, and Jun Kiln, seems to have little influence to this group of Japanese visitors. (This is partially due to the differencein aesthetic standards between cultures, and partially because the five most famous kilns are mainly used inside the palace, and it’s not likely for regular Japanese visitors to see them.)  The Japanese monks at that timemainly settled near the Zhejiang area, and this could also be the reason that they were mostly influenced by ceramics and artworks near “Min” (Fujian area), “Zhe” (Zhejiang area), and “Gan” (Jiangxi area).   

The historical footprints of “Zhi Ye”

Around four hundred years ago during the Tensho Era of Japan, 志野宗信, who had a strong passion in tea art, requested ceramic craftsmen to produce a type of whitecolored tea ware, and were called “Zhi Ye”.  

From the appearance, “Zhi Ye” ceramic have glaze layer is as smooth and silky as jade, the glaze color is pure, simple, with a natural network of small cracks. The clay body is natural, the vessel shapes are bold and generous, and the brush styles are simple yet elegant.  From the appearance of “Zhi Ye”, one can find traces and marks left behind during the forming of the shape by hand, to the firing of the artwork. This irregularity is part of the creativity process, aesthetic viewpoints, and as well experiences of the artist. “Zhi Ye” ceramic is not seeking for extravagance.  In the Japanese interpretation, it is a spiritual art that symbolize Buddhism.  When a high proportion of feldspar is mixed with the glaze, it will turn into frost like white color after firing, and the glaze color can turn into brilliant if iron-based material is added.


Why create “Zhi Ye” ceramics?

Creating “Zhi Ye” ceramic is out of pure enjoyment.  The artist can follow his heart and creative with freedom in each process, from clay preparationglaze mixingvessel throwing and finishingbisque firingglaze applicationglaze firingkiln cooling, to finally seeing the finished artwork when the kiln door is opened.  This freedom and enjoyment comes from the balance between setting high standards and accepting the randomness of nature without over-forcing.

We put our heart into every artwork, and much attention is placed into each creation steps.  We actually do not chasing after perfection, yet we continuously improves ourselves, and applies the skills into creating new art pieceswithout forcing each art piece to look the identical as previous ones. 

The enjoyment and excitement we experience is tremendous every time when new artwork comes out from the kiln.  We believe that we have already done our best at the creation stages, from preparing the clay to applying the glaze, and what is left is in fact the most impressive, because we have to leave the result to fate and randomness, to see the heat and smoke imprint and transform every work into a unique ink and wash art piece.  “Uncertainty”, “Genuine”, “The involvement of Fate”, and “Natural Randomness”, these are the beauty and glamour of “Zhi Ye” ceramics.

Buddhist says that life is painful because it is full of changes.  But as long as we stay open-minded and follow our destiny, the pains will not be painful.  We are thankful that we can settle with nature and wilderness, using natural resources here at the capital of ceramics, we follow wherever destiny takes us without forcing the result.  How can we not enjoy and love this level of freedom destiny gives us?

“Freedom and variations in artworks”,

“Our heart and beliefs are within the clay

---this is our genesis. 

The characteristic of the “Zhi Ye” ceramics by無真色山

Patterns and shades created naturally by the heat and smoke during firing, the result is like ink and wash paintings.  Such beautiful patterns seem to bring the rich scenery right in front of our eyes. 

Workmanship Highlights

We only use Jindezhen’s natural mineral clay that contains iron element to produce the vessel body.  And our glaze are self-made by natural materials, which after high-temperature firing at 1300℃, they are safe to body.


The appearance of the “ink and wash” patterns: This is due to the randomness of how the glaze absorbs the heat and carbon during firing. The resulting patterns are unpredictable, some look like smokes, and some look like clouds, and some are just like ink and wash scenery paintings.  

Each teacup is unique, the glaze color is rich and silky, the networks of small cracks are delicate.  They are nature, pure, and simple.

The art poetry book《天慵庵随笔》describes that mountains and trees that make up the nature are “physical” scenery, and another type of scenery that are created by our own heart are “conceptual”.  In the deepest level of the scenery lies a conceptual emptiness, without shape, without color is the base and ground of the “Zhi Ye” glaze.  All various form of energy origin from this emptiness, it is spiritual and conceptual. 

The differences between Zhi Ye” ceramics by無真色山 and traditional “Zhi Ye” ceramics:

1. Better transparency
2. The network of cracks are more delicate
3. The glaze color are more silky
4. Eliminates the small glaze marks that are on the traditional “Zhi Ye” glaze layer, and this represent more of the Chinese aesthetic perspectives.
5. The traditional “Zhi Ye” tends to be more heavy and bulky.  We have improved glaze formula and application method, and this allow us to apply on thinner vessel bodies then the traditional “Zhi Ye”.  Because it is now overall thinner and lighter, it is more comfortable to use.
6. The glaze color is achieved by a one-time procedure naturally. We do not retouch any glaze color afterwards, and this preserves the beauty and randomness created by nature. Each piece is unique and have it’s own character and presence.
7. This Version 2 of our “Zhi Ye” ceramic is the result of our three years long research.  We hope to bring back this traditional craftsmanship from China’s Song Dynasty to the modern time, and give it a new look.
You can buy Xing Xiang's cups online at Comins >> just click here 

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