Everyone's favorite three-legged moon toad appears in their wrath form. 蟾蜍 Chánchú is a magical, three-legged toad, originally hailing from the moon. The pet of the Daoist Immortal Liu Haichan, Chanchu once fell down a well, and, in order to retrieve them, Liu Haichan tied a Chinese coin to a string and lowered it into the well. Being from the moon, Chanchu is attracted to round, gold shiny things, and bit the coin, allowing Liu to haul them up out of the well. For this reason, Chanchu has come to symbolize wealth in Chinese culture. Chanchu is one of the most popular subjects for tea pets, with many artists taking extreme creative liberties with Chanchu's appearance. If you see something that might be a Chanchu but you're not quite sure, count the legs - if it has three legs, that's Chanchu. This version has been rendered in ultra-cute fashion, with a round body and an earnest smile on their little toad face. The mottled, stone-like clay body gives each Chanchu a unique character, and patinas beautifully with use.
Tea Pets 茶寵 (Chá Chǒng) are small figurines, usually made of unglazed stoneware (such as the kind teapots are made from), in the shape of animals, people, gods, mythical beasts, plants, fungi - pretty much anything at all. Their sole purpose is to be a recipient of waste water and waste tea produced over the course of the tea service from heating and rinsing the wares and leaves. Over time, they develop a patina of tea oils the way that tea pots do. This process of "raising" as it is called allows them to develop a dark, shiny lustre, with each tea pet taking on its own look and personality over time with use. They also serve a votive function - the pouring of tea over the figure calls in the "spirit" of whatever that figure represents. A good tea pet looks best when in use - ie when enjoying a stream of hot tea being poured over it.
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He's the perfect size for my desk gong fu setup. At least on my tea tray, he even makes little frog noises when he heats up/cools off (he's a little bit hollow and has a hole on the bottom that vents air through the water around him!). Not quite as good as my (real) cats, but definitely a great first tea pet.