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Classic Teapot Shapes – Banyue

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Is the teapot half full or half empty? A philosophical debate.



half moon

This teapot is one of Mansheng’s Eighteen (compare Shipiao teapot). It can also be called ban gua 半瓜 (half melon) and looks like a half sphere or upside down bowl.

The story goes as follows: It was the time of the moon festival which celebrates the full moon. The full moon and sphere shape symbolize the ideal shape, harmony and the joy of family reunions. Mansheng invited friends and family to watch the full moon and showed them his new teapot design. He chose the shape of the full moon – a perfect sphere –  to commemorate the festival. When he asked his guests to critique his work, they pointed out flaws like the shape of the spout, the position of the handle, the size of the pot etc…Discouraged, Mansheng abandoned his design. He realized that his friends were still unsatisfied even with a perfect shape, and the perfect shape was thus imperfect. He then designed the half-moon teapot which is a half sphere. Although the harmonious shape of the sphere is brutally interrupted and therefore imperfect, making it striking and drawing our attention.

The banyue teapot represents humanity’s yearning for harmony and perfection but encourages us to question our path. It is similar to the thoughts of Romanticism, chasing perfection but never quite achieving it, or the Japanese concept of wabisabi.

Is the banyue teapot perfect or imperfect?

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