Ju Lun Ju is our favorite shape of teapot, as it is most-beloved by most all the tea teachers we know and study with. The round body makes them good for any kind of tea. We asked the potters to make ours a little taller, so that they would literally be a compromise for all kinds of tea. This simple, rustic style of pot is intentionally left unfinished: the lids often wobble, the insides are crude and all is left unadorned. We feel that this best suites the spirit of Tea, which should be a celebration of the simple, ordinary life and the natural beauty in imperfection. The open spout means you have much greater control over the pour of the pot, allowing for a greater freedom of speed and distance, which becomes important for different kinds of tea as you become more sensitive.
They say that one of the best aesthetics for tea is a “royal steed tethered to a thatched hut,” which refers to the juxtaposition of something elegant and fine with simple, rustic materials. To celebrate this, we had the Heart Sutra handcarved on each of these pots, adding some spirit and grace to what would otherwise be very simple. We had to hire an eighty-year-old carver, long since retired, to carve the pots as the young carvers don’t know how to do the entire Heart Sutra by hand anymore. The tradition of carving calligraphy, and the Heart Sutra in particular, onto Yixing pots dates back centuries. The carving is done by different artists than the pot-makers and is a discipline of mastery in its own right. Ordinarily, carving or three-dimensional decoration decreases the quality of tea you can prepare with a pot, but for some reason this influence is not there so pronouncedly with the Heart Sutra. Master Lin always shrugs his shoulders at this and smiling, saying that the Heart Sutra is the only carving he’d want on a pot. We will include Wu De’s translation of the Heart Sutra, which he worked on for over a decade, and which we chant almost every day at the Center, with each pot.
There are four pots this year. Each are made from genuine, old Yixing ore mined from Yellow Dragon Mountain. The zisha pots are made from forty-year-old clay. We have two zisha, purple clay, and two hongni, or red clay. One of each is fired in an electric kiln and the other two are wood-fired. In other words, we have a wood and electric-fired version of each clay. Please be aware the Ju Lun Ju teapots are rustic and quaint. The wood-fired pots were fired in traditional dragon kilns. They are meant to be “wabi,” or gloriously imperfect. They are intentionally left unfinished and rustic, as this is the aesthetic of humility. Also, each pot is handcrafted and so is unique, as are the carvings. The wood-fired pots likewise vary in color and darkness depending on which place in the kiln they occupied. (If you want to choose one of these pots, you’ll have another good reason to visit the Center.) Finally, some of you will surely ask about how to hold a Ju Lun Ju lid, as it has a flat button. But it also has thick sides for this reason, and that is how you hold it (as shown in the photographs). These pots are 13-140 ml.
Every pot comes with its own silk box and print of the Heart Sutra in English and Chinese. The electric-fired pots are a minimum donation of 175$ + shipping and the wood-fired ones are 200$ + shipping.