Japanese Tea Ceremony Ceramics Essay

1280 words - 5 pages

Japanese Tea Ceremony Ceramics

There are various objects needed to conduct a tea ceremony. Most important among them are ceramics: the tea-caddy, the tea bowl, the flower vase, the incense burner, the incense container, the water jar, the ladle rest, the rest for the cover of the jar, the ash container, the cake bowl, the plate to place charcoal brazier, and candle-holders and other paraphernalia for decoration and atmosphere. Furthermore, such utensils used in the light dinner served before the tea rite called the kaiseki, food dishes and bowls, wine bottles and wine cups are to be numbered, the majority of implements for use in the tea-ceremony are pieces of ceramics.

These "tea-ceremony ceramics" of various kinds contain pieces from different places of production. There are Chinese pieces, Korean works. Japanese products, enameled wares from south Asia such as Java, Sumatra, Burma and India, Annamese, Siamese, products of southeast Asia, and European pieces brought by Dutch traders. Various combinations of these ceramic pieces are devised at each tea-ceremony. They are responsible in creating the suitable aesthetic atmosphere of the tea ritual. The visual entertainment of the tea-ceremony is chiefly derived from ceramics. Refined simplicity, rusticity, austerity, and naturalness-in sum, an aesthetic quality of wabi - are traditional hallmarks of the utensils featured in the tea ceremony.

Chanoyu (Tea Ceremony) seeks to embody a particular kind of beauty; wabi. The following are the aesthetic consciousness comprising the aspects of wabi; simple, unpretentious beauty, imperfect irregular beauty, austere, stark cold beauty, naturalness including innocence, elegance, unworldliness and unconditional freedom, and calm and tranquillity. Wabi was taken into the world of chanoyu and made its aesthetic because chanoyu encountered wabi as an aesthetic based on things. Wabi originally implied a lack of things. The noun wabi derives from wabu (to be wretched) or wabishii (to be wretched) and originally referred to the miserable feeling that comes from material deprivation. Wabi is usually understood in chanoyu as the negation of all luxury, extravagance, and power, producing aesthetic forms of simplicity, frugality, poverty, and the common. The point however, is not to be completely bereft of material possessions: Wabi does not mean to deny things, but rather to penetrate as far as possible to their true essence and therein to discern beauty. In the beauty of the plain there lies the ultimate sense of beauty which is a beauty of restraint. The wabi ideal of beauty sets simple and unpretentious expression above the compel and striking. It sees a higher dimension of beauty in the imperfect than in the flawless. Tea masters Shuko, Jowo and especially Rikyu, self-consciously defined wabi as the aesthetic ideal of chanoyu.

A priest named Murata Shuko(1422-1502), is considered the Father of the Tea Ceremony. He taught that four values were...

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