As a kind of folkart, purple-clay pottery,
like many other crafts, was passed down form masters to apprentices in
the ancient way. It was taught face to face, and hand to hand. There was
no exception to this in modern or ancient times, in China or elsewhere.
The apprentice generally had to learn for three to five or six years
under the master¡¯s guidance. There was a fixed ceremony for an
apprentice to acknowledge an artist as his master, and he had to kneel
down before the master. The master-apprentice contract was to be signed
by the guarantee. During the apprenticeship, the apprentice was only
offered meals, without pay. And the master¡¯s artistic style, creative
experience and technical level would inevitably leave impression upon
the apprentice¡¯s technique, idea and moral character. Even if a famous
artist, the artistic trace and behavioral pattern of his earlier ages
could be found in the course of his style-making.
1 The Training Pattern In The History
The earliest purple-clay artist recorded was Gong Chun, originally Wu
Yishan¡¯s servant. When he was accompanying his master reading in Jingsha
Temple, he secretly learned the old work¡¯s skill and thus began making
pottery. So the old monk was considered his master.
Shi Dabing was a consummate craftsman in Ming Dynasty. He had many
learners, of which, Li Zhongfan was the most brilliant one. Some of his
teapots were actually made by Li Zhongfan. Other disciples were: Xu
Youquan, Ou Zhenchun, Chao Wenjing, Chao Wenying, Chen Junqing, Shen
Junyong. There was no literal record after that period. So it was
difficult to make inferences.
Huang Yuling, the famous artist in Qing Dynasty, was taught by Chao
Xiangpu, and Cheng Shouzheng was Chao Youting¡¯s disciple.
2 The Period During The Republic of China
In 1931, ¡°Public Vocational School of Yixing, Jiangsu¡±was
established. In it ,they set up the ¡°potter branch¡±, which was renamed
¡°Kiln branch¡± the next year. In 1933, the ¡°kiln branch¡±separated from
Yixing vocational school and in dependently founded ¡°Junior Pottery
Vocational Scholl of Yixing, Jiangsu¡±, which enrolled students who had
higher primary school education or above. Situated in Shushan Bei Chang,
it made use of the pottery factory as their workshop. The first
president was Wang Shijie, who had graduated from Empire University of
Industry, Tokyo, Japan. Wu Yun-geng, Zhu Ke-xin, etc, were invited to be
teachers and technicians of the experiment workshop. From then on, the
traditional teaching way of ¡°one master, one apprentice¡± was changed. A
master may admit many disciples, while a disciple could also learn from
In 1921, ¡°Applied Pottery Company¡± founded ¡°Potters¡¯ School¡±. Yu
Guoliang, Chao Yunru were teachers at that time. Excellent students
were: Feng Guiling, Chu Liang, Chen Hanxi, etc.
Wang Shenyi taught Wang Baogeng, Zhu Kexin, Wu Yungeng.
Jiang Zuocheng taught Pei Shiming, Jin Ashou taught Wang Yanchun.
3 After 1949
In 1954 the purple-clay production team was established in Shushan
Workshop. Many purple-clay artists were assembled together from other
places. Among them were: pottery carving artist, Ren Ganting,
model-makers: Zhu Kexin, Gu Jingzhou, Wang Yanchun, Pei Shiming, Wu
Yungeng, Jiang Rong, etc.
Zhu Kexin admitted Pan Chunfang, Bao Xinyuan, Si Zhipeng, Li
Qingxian, Li Bifang, Ni Shunsheng, Cao Wanfen, Wu Qingan;
Jingzhou admitted Li Changhong, Gao Haigeng, Shen Juhua, shan Shufang,
Wu Yungeng admitted Gao Yongjin, Si Jihua, Xu Xuan and
Wang Xiaolong, Li Tianxing and Li Yuanru as
Wang Yanchun admitted Gao Honghing, Chen Xiaogeng, Ge Yubing,
JiangHongda, Ji Debao, Bao Saifeng, Fang Lipiu;
Wu Yungeng admitted
Si Yuqing, He Tingchu, Xu Ciyuan, Fan Hongquan, Wang Yuexian, Xie
xuexian, Wu Xinnao;
Yu Honggeng admitted Xu maotang, BaoQijun;
Ren Ganting admitted Xu Xiutang, Xian Qiying, Feng Xiya, chao Xinhe,
Wang Pinrong, Zhang Hetang and Zhu Rongjuan as apprentices.
From 1958 to 1959
Zhu Kexin admitted Wangyanxian, Fan Hongquan, Xie Manlun;
Jingzhou accepted Gao Haigeng, Li changhong, Shen Quhua, Zhou Guizheng;
Wang Yanchun admitted He Daohong, Gao Hoonghing;
accepted Lu Yaochen, Xu Ciyuan;
Chen Fuyuan accepted Pan chiping,
Zhou Zhunyan, Gu Chaopei as apprentices.