Thursday, August 8, 2013

陳兎根 • Chen Tu Gen

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Last year, Chen Tu Gen, a Chinese man from Yixing, came into Kkik Da Geo with a collection of hand-made pots, hoping to do business in Korea. He said that all the shops he'd visited weren't interested (they most likely didn't trust him) and Kkik Da Geo was the last place he was trying before going back to China.

When he unveiled his pots, their jaws dropped at what they beheld; a perfect blend of technique, artistry, and precious, rare clay. A combination rarely seen these days. As far as teashops in Seoul go, few owners have Mr Ahn's eye for clay and he immediately recognized that the pots were authentic zisha and zhuni clays. Needless to say, they immediately agreed to sell his pots, considering their meeting him to be "in-yeon", a sort of karmic-affintity. 

Not long after, I visited their website and my own eyes nearly popped out when I saw the new collection of pots they had. The one that amazed me the most was a peach-branch pot with a heart-shaped spout. I'd never seen anything like it. Unfortunately, by the time I made it into Seoul, it had been sold, but I was pleased to set aside an elegantly crafted zhuni guava pot. The stone used to make zhuni clay has been extinct since the early 1970's, but his supply of clay has been in his family for 200 years and he inherited it from his grandfather.

As fate would have it, just a few days after I bought the guava pot, I dropped by the shop just as a parcel arrived from Chen Tu Gen. Mr Ahn carefully unwrapped a zisha pear-branch pot for me to admire and said it was mine if I wanted it. At first I said no, but called them the next day to change my mind. They let me pay it off as I could and after four long months of admiring it through the glass display case, I was able to bring it home to join the rest of my indulgences. 

What amazed me the most about these pots, aside from their perfect form, is how fast they sold. In even a week between visits I'd notice more than a dozen would be gone. There were several of them that were accented with gold leaf for more than twice the price of a regular one and within two weeks they were all gone. 

Not that I plan on selling them anytime soon, but if there's one justification to owning these pots, beyond desire/greed, they are actually good investments, as their value is guaranteed to grow. Really, though, they just make drinking tea that much more enjoyable.

Here are a couple of photos I took at Kkik Da Geo with my phone (not the greatest quality). I will do a proper, in-depth review of each one when time permits.

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