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Types Of Clay


Yixingware exclusively uses three broad categories of clay. They are Zini 紫泥 , Hongni  红泥 and Luni 绿泥. You may have heard of other famous clay types such as Zhuni or Duanni but these are simply subcategories of the main three. All of these are some balance of kaolin, quartz, mica and iron oxide. The varying levels of which give variation in pottery color and feel. Traditionally these clays come from HuangLong Mountain in Yixing, Jiangsu province. 江苏省,宜興,黄龙山. Other mines have opened since in surrounding areas but Yixingware is exclusively made from clay from Yixing. Note that Zisha is both a name for Zini as well as a broad term for all Yixing clay. Below is a chart of notable subtypes.

Zini 紫泥

This is THE marketed legendary Yixing clay. Translating to purple clay/sand, this is by far the most recognizable and well known type of clay. The other two categories are often incorrectly lumped under the name Zisha for marketing. Finished pots will take on a deep purple/brown color. This category includes Hei Ni or black clay.

Hongni  红泥

This clay is very similar to Zini with the main difference being higher iron oxide content. The increased iron oxide causes the finished pottery to be a brighter reddish orange color compared to the darker Zini. Hongni is more scarce than Zini and some rumor that the mineable supply is near or at depletion. Zhuni falls into this category.

Luni 绿泥

This category of clay is the most flexible. At its core Luni is a lightly green colored ore that produces yellowish finished pottery. However it is extremely common for mineral additives to be used to change the color and produce green or blue pottery. It and it's subtypes are faked quite often with chemical additives and is one of the harder compositions to authenticate. It has significantly lower iron content than the other two clay types. 

Tuanni 团泥 and Further Variations

Tuanni is amalgamate clay. That is any mix ratio of the main three categories. Duanni is a type of Tuanni consistent of Luni and Zini. Furthermore the three main categories are broken down pretty extensively into sub categories, but knowledge of those has little use. Sub category verification is almost impossible to confirm without having seen the raw ore. Some sub categories are extremely specific like DiCaoQing which refers to Zini clay mined from the number 4 or number 5 mine of HuangLong mountain on the third most level of the mine. Some of the more famous sub categories are: Dahongpao, Moluni, Huangjin Duan, Qingshui, etc.

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