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The Treasures of Mr I. C. Su (2)

In the mid of December 1998 I received an invitation from Mr I. C. Su to take part in the 5th “Asia-Pacific Bonsai, Suiseki and Chinese old pottery Convetion and Exibition” in Taiwan, which was a great honour for me.

I first met Mr Su in Munich, and by talking about old pots we quickly got to know each other. I proudly showed Mr Su pictures of my collection of old pots, and he promised me to send pictures of his own pot collection so that we could discuss and share.

A few months later I got a parcel from Taiwan, a cloth-bound album. After having had a look at the first few pages it was obvious to me that these were among the most valuable and rare bonsai pots, many of which were peerless.

Mr Su kindly allowed me to show these pots on my web site. I’m sure that looking at such pots is a great enjoyment for enthusiasts, and one that I would like to share with you as well.

Here are the masterpieces:

Peach bloom clay  - Ming Period  - 1368 to 1911 AD

For me this pot is one of the most beautiful in the entire collection. The superb patina gives it a vibrancy which is called “water gloss” in China. This patina, produced by centuries of use, lends an almost translucent quality to the surface of the clay. You can often find such a patina on old used tea pots, a slightly greasy gloss, transparent and with optical depth.

The painting on the pot is a two-coloured engobe painting. It gives homage to the Chrysanthemum flower, displaying it in its full beauty. Unfortunately the picture doesn’t show the context in which it is shown, which would be relevant for the intention of this painting.

The Chrysanthemum (chu) is an autumn flower, which is why it also symbolizes longevity. The connection with other plants, trees or animals like a locust, would give it a different meaning altogether.




Red Clay Gold Painted Pot, Ming Period - 1368 to 1643 AD


Another example of a two-colour engobe painting. It shows a landscape with a river, mountains, trees, pagodas and two peasants or fishermen in conversation.



Yixing zisha taozhizuo (Yixing zisha manufactory) – Qing Period, 1644 to 1911 AD

The technique used for the multicolored decoration on this pot is still not entirely clear to me. The description says “An enameled Yixing Zisha pot", which would mean that an enamel technique was used. However you cannot the thin copper wire which would typically be used to separate the colours. It looks very much like an enamel technique, even if some shapes have black borders and others don’t.

The painting which probably shows a mountain village in spring looks quite modern and fresh to me – this is a very interesting old pot indeed.



A very unusual pot. This shape is difficult to create, with its round base that continues into a hexagonal shape. The six image frames show plants, landscapes or animals. In the left frame you can discern a bat, a symbol for luck.

The painting is done in black engobe (see here for more information on this technique). Unfortunately, the age of the pot isn’t known to me.



A reddish-brown pot, probably from Yixing.

This is an old, classical, chinese shape of pot with high feet. The pot doesn’t have image frames, the black engobe painting is applied directly to the pot’s wall.

These pots were mainly created using a single firing process. Again, the age of the pot is unknown to me.


All pictures were kindly provided by Mr I.C. Su.

Text: Peter Krebs

Translation: Stefan Ulrich