Through a nice coincidence, a student who comes from Yixing joined this very first lecture about clays. And despite growing up there, it's the first time he saw so many Yixing clays. In the box below, Teaparker was able to gather clay from 19 different locations (or sometimes from the same mine, but from different layers).
But let's not throw too many confusing names around. What we need to know is that all these Yixing clays from these different locations and layers can be summed up with 3 colors:
|Chalin clay area|
What is the characteristic of hungni when it comes from the ground? It's yellow! And it's very soft to the touch! It's so soft, it seems there's some powder that rubs off on the skin of our finger as we touch it. It feels powdery like talc.
|Zhaozhuang Nen Ni clay|
|Jianli Nen Ni clay|
As you can see from the picture, green clay has a more granular feel than hungni. It's the roughest, but also the one that it crushed the most easily. It's friable, brittle. Its color is the least even.
This green clay will turn into yellow when it's fired and will give us the pot color called 'duanni'.
|Taixi clay well (top of mountain)|
Purple clay feels the hardest and doesn't brittle or turns into powder like luni or hongni. However, despite the rough look, its surface is also very smooth.
With zini, the color remains purple after firing.
Touching the 3 different types of clays proved very interesting and different from what we thought these clays would be like.
Note: My spring 2015 Wenshan Baozhongs are now available here! And for further reading on Yixing wares, I've added this book with pictures of the National Palace's Yixing collection.