This stunning, unique gaiwan is hand-thrown and hand-carved with complex Dai motifs. The lid features a geometrical 7-pointed star radiating from the knob, the exterior wall features undulating waves of leaves and pyramids, and the foot is ornamented with fractal triangles. The design is a subtle carving covered with a beautiful, natural wood-ash glaze that gives the look and feel of a wood-fired ware (although this piece is fired in an electric kiln). This organic glaze is a beautiful translucent dark green where thick and a reddish brown where thin. Its mottled texture gives the lid excellent grip. The piece overall has a rustic and organic feel, made luminous by the wood ash.
The Liang Tu studio consists of a married couple; the husband is part of the eponymous Dai ethnic group and the wife is Han. They've been producing Han-style tea wares (ie gong fu tea ware) with a Dai flare, using Dai clay, for half a decade. Each one of our Liang Tu wares is handmade and absolutely unique. Dai clay holds heat well and will develop a patina if unglazed. This wood-ash glazed gaiwan can be used with any kind of tea without being dedicated. Being from Yunnan, Dai pottery is well-suited for use with Pu'er due to its chemical and thermal properties.
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I claim no expertise in pottery, Chinese or otherwise, so will limit my review to function. First let me say right up front this gaiwan is a delight to brew with! I really like the way the rough wood-ash surface texture lets you quickly set the aperture when pouring and then never slips. This is especially important since gaiwans are notoriously hot and this one is no exception. The vessel is very fine, thin and light with delicate lid and knob, and is quite elegant in spite of its rustic aura. The rim is nicely flared and generously proportioned and if one is careful you can pour quickly and repeatedly without getting burned. I have noticed that the vessel is a tiny bit out of round such that the lid rocks (maybe 1/32 inch) but this has not presented any functional problem and I’m sure is due to the fact that this is a hand-made product. Very nice indeed.