The Book of Tea

1st World Publishing
7
Free sample

Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a religion of aestheticism - Teaism. Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life. The Philosophy of Tea is not mere aestheticism in the ordinary acceptance of the term, for it expresses conjointly with ethics and religion our whole point of view about man and nature. It is hygiene, for it enforces cleanliness; it is economics, for it shows comfort in simplicity rather than in the complex and costly; it is moral geometry, inasmuch as it defines our sense of proportion to the universe. It represents the true spirit of Eastern democracy by making all its votaries aristocrats in taste.
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Additional Information

Publisher
1st World Publishing
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Published on
May 15, 2004
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Pages
72
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ISBN
9781595400956
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Language
English
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Genres
Cooking / Beverages / Coffee & Tea
Literary Criticism / General
Social Science / Customs & Traditions
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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The Japanese tea ceremony is generally identified with chanoyu and its bowls of whipped, powdered green tea served in surroundings influenced by the tenets of Zen Buddhism. Tea of the Sages is the first English language study of the alternate tea tradition of sencha. At sencha tea gatherings, steeped green leaf tea is prepared in an atmosphere indebted to the humanistic values of the Chinese sages and the materialistic culture of elite Chinese society during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Although sencha once surpassed chanoyu in popularity, it is now overshadowed by chanoyu, despite the existence of more than a hundred sencha schools throughout Japan. This exceptionally well-illustrated volume explores sencha's philosophy and arts from the seventeenth century to the present. Introduced by Chinese merchants and scholar-monks, sencha first gained favor in Japan among devotees of the Chinese literati.

By the early nineteenth century, it had become popular with a wide spectrum of urban and rural residents. Some took up sencha as a subversive activity in opposition to the mandated protocol of chanoyu. Others enjoyed sencha because of its connections with elite Chinese culture, knowledge of which indicated intellectual and cultural refinement. Still others relished it simply as a fine tasting beverage. Sencha inspired painters and poets and fostered major advances within craft industries from ceramics to metalwork and basketry. Sencha aficionados, many of whom became serious connoisseurs of Chinese art and antiquities, hosted some of the earliest public art exhibitions.

Tea of the Sages opens with a chronological overview of tea in China and its transmission to Japan before situating sencha within the rich milieu of Chinese material culture available in early modern Japan. Subsequent chapters outline the multifaceted history of the formalization of the sencha tea ceremony, drawing upon sources such as treatises and less formal writings as well as analysis of tea gathering records, utensils and their prescribed arrangements, paintings, prints, and sencha architecture.

This book examines the complex relationship between class and gender dynamics among tea ceremony (chadō) practitioners in Japan. Focusing on practitioners in a provincial city, Akita, the book surveys the rigid, hierarchical chadō system at grass roots level. Making critical use of Bourdieu’s idea of cultural capital, it explores the various meanings of chadō for Akita women and argues that chadō has a cultural, economic, social and symbolic value and is used as a tool to improve gender and class equality. Chadō practitioners focus on tea procedure and related aspects of chadō such as architecture, flower arranging, gardening and pottery. Initially, only men were admitted to chadō; women were admitted in the Meiji period (1868-1912) and now represent the majority of practitioners. The author - a chadō practitioner and descendant of chadō teachers - provides a thorough, honest account of Akita women based on extensive participant observation and interviews. Where most literature on Japan focuses on metropolitan centres such as Kitakyushu and Tokyo, this book is original in both its subject and scope. Also, as economic differences between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas have become more pronounced, it is timely to explore the specific class and gender issues affecting non-metropolitan women. This book contributes not only to the ethnographic literature on chadō and non-metropolitan women in Japan, but also to the debates on research methodology and the theoretical discussion of class.

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