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  • Jian Zhan Ware

How to Tell a Fake from an Authentic Jian Zhan?

Due to the popularity and high value of Jian Zhan, there are many tried to create imitations which closely resembled the authentic Jian Zhan and priced them ridiculously low to attract buyers. However, unlike the Authentic Jian Zhan, the imitations have to take drastic measures to replicate the glossy glaze and attractive design, some resorted to harmful chemicals or dyes. Hence, learning how to tell a fake from an authentic Jian Zhan is not only about buying for a valuable art piece, but also stay away from harmful chemical which damage your organs when you actually drink from it.

Let's talk about the fakes first. The industry has long concluded that Wares with No Iron Bases are not Jian Zhan! This is one of the important criteria for identifying authentic Jian Zhan, and it is also the key factor. The color of the bottom cup base of Jian Zhan is generally dark black or gray black, not only the outer circumference of the base, but also the base coating is black. At the same time, after putting it on the table, knocking the Jian Zhan with chopsticks makes a sound similar to metal clinking.

It is because of the rough bottom of the base that Jian Zhan can achieve the effect of both ventilation and heat preservation. The fetal soil can only be taken from the Jianyang Shuiji area in Fujian Province, which is why potters all over the world who like to develop Jian Zhan use the fetal soil of Jianyang Shuiji.

At present, many Jian Zhan on the market use cosmetics soil on the bottom of the base, and the black base coating is not black, but other colors. Therefore, people often see some Jian Zhan on the Internet or in tea cities and exhibitions. The markings are not very different from Jianyang Jian Zhan, and the price is quite cheap. However, regardless how cheap these pottery cup wares are, there are basically worthless in the eyes of collectors and Jian Zhan lovers.

This kind of pottery may be produced in other places, not from Jianyang! This kind of pottery does not have the unique raw materials of Jian Zhan, but uses other soil and adds some other raw materials and elements, instead of using the local raw ore in Jianyang soil/clay and raw mineral glaze, it may fade after a period of time, without luster and other natural characteristics of Jian Zhan. In other words, these are fake Jian Zhan!

So how do we identify an Authentic Jian Zhan?

Iron Ore Rich Base Clay/Coating

Authentic Jian Zhan must be iron rich, the clay and soil used for shaping the cups and coating have to undergo extreme high temperature of at least 1,300 degree celsius, this is the only way to achieve Jian Zhan wares which sound like metal clinking and the coating will develop into attractive design when the coating melted and flowed on the surface of the cup to create some of the jaw dropping design naturally formed inside the kiln.

Currently, there are 4 ways to tell if the ware is Jian Zhan:

  1. Colour of the base of the cup - iron rich clay under high temperature will transform into metallic greyish colour. However, if during the firing process, there is oxygenation took place, the base of the cup will be oxidised and turned into reddish brown colour.

  2. Density Test - Clay with iron definitely will be denser than normal clay. However, this test is relatively unreliable as ancient Jian Zhan has average cup mouth diameter of 12cm, hence density is completely different from modern Jian Zhan.

  3. Magnetic Test - This is also not a complete proof of telling an authentic Jian Zhan apart from the fakes. Because despite some of the iron retains its iron characteristics, however during firing and oxidisation, Iron can react with oxygen to become FeO, Fe2O3 or Fe3O4, hence not all end products are able to be attracted to magnet.

  4. Buy from Reputable Sources - This is by far the best method of acquiring Jian Zhan, and other antiques as well. In addition to that, buying from some reputable master artisans comes with authencity QR code which can verify the authencity of the item you purchased.

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