Integration of Innovative Elements: The Works of Chinese Yixing Master Ji Yishun Return to the Heart

Ji Yishun, an artist with the “Three Slams” of China’s Master of Arts and Crafts, China’s Master of Ceramics, and China’s Master of Arts and Crafts, has won numerous awards in the past 40 years, leaving no one to challenge the position of Yixing Master. Speaking of future, Ji Yishun said that all kinds of awards and honors have already been “Grand Slam”. Now this stage is the most “original” stage of his creation. He hopes to create more works that can be handed down from ancient times and integrate more innovative elements for future generations to study. 

Artist Ji Yishun posed for a photo with a Chinese kettle on display at the Jiangsu Cultural Carnival. The Chinese kettle was specially designed to commemorate the 70th anniversary of P.R.China.

In order to celebrate the 70th anniversary of P.R.China and the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to China, the “Jiangsu Cultural Carnival” jointly organized by the Jiangsu Provincial People’s Government and the Macao Jiangsu Association in Macao opened on September 06, 2019 and was held in Macao’s Golden Light Convention and Exhibition Center for three consecutive days. The organizer hopes to further deepen the exchanges and cooperation between Jiangsu and Macao through the activities, to make friends with locals, to gather strength, and to promote national identity, ethnic identity and cultural identity.

Ji Yishun’s Yixing works “Chinese Pot” and “Sharing Prosperity Forever” were also on display at the carnival. He said that “Chinese Pot” was specially designed to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The modelling of Yixing teapots incorporated Chinese elements such as Tian ‘anmen Square, five-star red flag, and Chinese watch, and used the steadiness and integrity of Yixing square ware to show an indomitable spirit.  The concept of “Sharing Prosperity Forever” is based on the concept of “nine”. In traditional Chinese culture, nine is the number of poles, which has the greatest and longest significance. This teapot is especially used to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to China.

Ji Yishun, an artist with the “Three Slams” of China’s Masters of Arts and Crafts, China’s Masters of Ceramics, and China’s Masters of Arts and Crafts, was invited to exhibit his works at the Jiangsu Cultural Carnival this year.

Ji Yishun said that the style in recent years is based on China’s 1,000-year history and culture. The heavy themes are represented by very complicated and labor-intensive techniques such as gold filigree, gem inlay, purple clay and five-color clay filling. The purple clay pot is richer in inside information and accumulation, and at the same time it also adds luxury to the purple clay pot.

At the same time, he is also very fond of creating for some memorable moments, such as “Chinese Teapot” created this year to celebrate China’s 70th birthday, “Sharing Prosperity Forever” to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to China, and “Spring surge in Jinling” created for Nanjing Youth Olympic Committee for 14 years. “As long as you really love the Yixing Teapot industry, everything around you can become a source of inspiration for your creation.”

He has won many awards in his career. Ji Yishun said modestly that this is an affirmation of his works and his contribution to the whole industry. “Yixing industry should be full of flowers. Different teachers have different styles.  “He said that innovation is the essence of all changes. Moreover, more and more young people are now engaged in the Yixing industry. Most of them have received higher education and some have even studied abroad. With these new people, they are happy to bring new vitality and more development possibilities to the entire Yixing industry. 

Ji Yishun’s purple sand works, such as “Chinese Teapot”, “Sharing Prosperity Forever” and “Baibao Teapot”, were all exhibited in the carnival.

However, there are also some bad phenomena in the Yixing industry. Ji Yishun pointed out that works such as shoddy works and fake works are occasionally seen in the market. He believed that the solution to these problems still depends on people in the industry having a high sense of professional responsibility and working together for the industry.

Yixing teapots were exported to Southeast Asia and Europe during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Several famous museums in the world have collections of Yixing teapots. Ji Yishun pointed out that Yixing art has won numerous gold medals in international expositions and numerous awards in domestic and international competitions since the 1930s. Ji Yishun said that many foreign friends come to visit his art museum every year and feel that more and more foreign friends are interested in Yixing. Whether they are foreign friends or domestic teapot friends, they are often told that appreciation of Yixing teapots can begin from the four aspects of “shape, workmanship, materials and rhyme” and gradually realize the subtleties.

Ji Yishun is already at the peak of purple sand art. He said that this stage should be the most “original” stage for me to create. I have won many awards and covered my body with honor. I am not old enough to earn income through purple sand. Now I want to create more works that can be handed down from ancient times. I hope that after creation, various innovations can be brought into play, including subject matter innovation and the integration of different techniques, which can fully show more possibilities of purple sand and bring forth the brilliance of purple sand to the world.

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