Some Classic Yixing Teapot Shapes
A fun design that is similar to Xi Shi: Ben Shan
Green Clay Dragon Egg Yixing teapot – the
stubby spout and ovoid shape are rather amusing.

Awhile back I came across an image listing some classic shapes for Yixing teapots. Quite fascinating, but it spurred me to look further and learn more about these and other shapes, as well as finding examples of some from the ones we carry on our store site. The journey was a fascinating one, with the results shown below.

Some classics include the most popular design Shui Ping (水平) per a recent online poll, the second most popular design Xi Shi (西施) per that same poll, the third most popular Fang Gu (仿古), and these: Li Xing, Shi Piao (石瓢), Tai Jian, De Zhong (德钟), Duo Qiu (掇球), Han Bian, Liu Fang, Qing Quan (秦权), Rou Bian, Xu Bian (虚扁), Rong Tian, Tseng Lan, Wen Dan, Pan Hu (潘壶), Xiao Ying (笑樱), Mei Ren Jian (美人臂), Han Wa (汉瓦), Duo Zhi (掇只), Jing Lan (井栏), Pao Zhun (匏尊), Qie Duan (茄段), Jin Wen (筋纹), Hua Huo (花货), and Fang Huo (方货).
Da Hong Pao Clay Gu Shi Shui Ping
Yixing teapot – 130ml

Most popular: Shui Ping – 水平

A popular teapot design for oolongs, but you can also get good results steeping pu-erhs and black teas. You will get an extra softness to the tea flavors than with a porcelain gaiwan according to some aficionados. The teapot walls are often more thin than usual but with careful handling will steep well for years.

Second most popular: Xi Shi – 西施

This is a true classic. Xi Shi was a woman of great beauty, so much so that, like Helen of Troy, she brought down an entire kingdom (in a successful effort to bring honor and pride back to her people) but not by starting a war. Actually, she was more of a Mata Hari, trained to be pleasing yet be a spy at the same time. Teapots having this shape have a simplicity that is also quietly beautiful. They are elegant with a fluency in the lines of their design. The round shape is meant to be the full round face of a beautiful woman, the spout is like her mouth, the pearl shape lid handle is a sign of nobility, and the handle is like an elegant hair style.
Ben Shan Green Clay Fang Gu
Yixing teapot 120ml

Third most popular: Fang Gu – 仿古

A truly classical design. Some designs include 4 small “feet” on the bottom. This style started in the Qing Dynasty and is still a favorite of Yixing craftsmen (the Chinese characters actually translate to “making the teapot in an antique style”). Like all Yixing designs, having a tight-fitting lid is very important. It’s great for pu-erhs, black teas, and oolongs.
Traditional Shi Piao Yixing pot –
220cc from Xu Yanping

The Shi Piao – 石瓢

Another classic and popular design with elegance and fluency in its lines. It also mimics the beautiful full round face of a young woman and has a spout like a short gun barrel but that is also rather spiritual in its general air. This is a great shape for green teas, oolongs, black teas, and pu-erhs.

The Xu Bian – 虚扁

A more oblate shape that sits low with a simple elegance and sophistication. There is usually landscape scenery carved into the sides. Mountainous scenes are usual. You can pour calmly, gaze at the mountains as you sip, and let the cares of the world vanish.

The Pan Hu – 潘壶

“Pan” means “renegade, traitor, or rebel”. Considered one of the most practical designs. It dates from the late Qing Dynasty, when people came to Yixing to order teapots as presents for social communication. The design was a favorite of a family named Pan who were dedicated tea drinkers.

The Hua Huo – 花货

These are often decorated with leaves, vines, fruits, flowers, and even small animals such as squirrels. Try steeping an Anxi or Taiwanese oolong, or green teas, or even a yellow tea in this one.

The artisans in China who specialize in these and other classic designs are also known to vary them in subtle and creative ways. The clays will vary, too, being mined from different areas. Regardless of the design and the clay type, you will find these teapots quite an experience when steeping your premium teas.

Some symbols used in their designs:

  • bamboo (nobility, growth)
  • bunny (family unity, gentleness, fertility)
  • butterfly (everlasting love, romance)
  • cat (good luck)
  • cherry blossom (beauty, wealth)
  • coin (prosperity, good fortune)
  • chrysanthemum (rich, beautiful, filled with hope)
  • dragon and phoenix (yin/yang, man/woman, power/beauty, balance, renewal)
  • fish (prosperity, affluence),
  • frog (good luck)
  • laughing Buddha (tranquility, generosity)
  • lizard (living strong), lotus (purity, enlightenment)
  • lotus root (uninterrupted, unconditional love)
  • magnolia (feminine sweetness and beauty)
  • monkey (quick witted, full of energy)
  • mother and baby dragon (the coming of power and good fortune)
  • owl (alertness, blessed with great vision)
  • peach (longevity), peony (wealth, distinction)
  • pig (wealth, prosperity)
  • pine (longevity, steadfastness)
  • plum blossom (beauty, strength, will power)
  • pumpkin (harvest, festivity, celebration)
  • rooster (high energy, full of warrior’s spirits)
  • swan (elegance, beauty)
  • tiger (courage, bravery, ward off demons, powerful protector)
  • turtle (longevity)

See also:
So You Bought a Yixing Teapot — Now What?
Seasoning Your Yixing Teapots
Should You Season Your New Yixing Teapot?

About Janice and Stephen Shelton

Purveyors of Premium Teas
This entry was posted in Teawares and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Some Classic Yixing Teapot Shapes

  1. Ben says:

    These are really nice teapots. Very earthy feeling.

    I like glass teapots too (

    Glass teaware is little more affordable…


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