To understand the significance of the tea bowl one must have a basic knowledge of the tea ceremony. These leaf patterned tea bowls were greatly desired because they thoroughly embodied the essence of the ceremony. They were expertly crafted and each detail was fine tuned to enhance the experience of the ritual. Tea drinking had been around for hundreds of years but was typically only used for medicinal or spiritual reasons. It wasn't until the Tang dynasty (618-906AD) that tea became a popular beverage in China. With the rise of tea consumption came a wealth of related activities and objects created to make tea drinking more enjoyable. One of these activities is known around the world as the tea ceremony.1 The tea ceremony is an art steeped in tradition that demands rigorous schooling to master. There are various traditions but they tend to differ only slightly. The ceremonies are structured around etiquette that is strictly fallowed. This might seem laborious but they are meant to bring about a sense of peace and humility. The aesthetics surrounding the ceremony are meant to create a harmony between the tea drinkers and nature. The tea houses are designed to do exactly that. From the moment the guest arrives at the gate of the tea house garden they are met with meticulously kept scenes of beauty. The garden is always in perfect condition and the artwork on the wall is precisely hung to compliment the season or occasion the ceremony might be celebrating.2 Each tea house is different in design but should attempt to match the pristine example set by this: Japanese Tea House 3
Possibly the most important piece of art for a tea ceremony is the tea bowl. This is the piece that the guest picks up with their hands and presses against their lips. A good tea bowl will feel comfortable on the fingertips and make the tea look delightful. The wrong bowl can feel repulsive on the lips or spill tea out of the corners of the guest's mouth. It is...
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