chanoyu 茶湯
KEY WORD : art history / general terms, architecture / tea houses
Lit. the hot water for tea. Also known as sadou 茶道 or chadou. The ritual art of preparing and drinking green tea. Chanoyu has been an integral part of Japanese culture since the 15c, an important well-spring of native aesthetics, and a major inspiration for the development of new styles of ceramics, architecture, garden design, decorative arts and painting. Chanoyu has also been a dominant force in connoisseurship and collecting, and has come to be closely linked with the aesthetic concepts of, simple taste *wabi わび and *suki 数寄. Tea drinking originated in China where it was associated with pharmacology and Daoist beliefs in alchemy and immortality. Lu Yu's 陸羽 (d.804) Treatise on Tea (Ch: Chajing, Jp: CHAKEI 茶系, trans. F.R.Carpenter, The Classic of Tea, Boston, Little Brown, 1974) outlined the many virtues of tea as well as explaining its history, the proper method of preparation and the attendant aesthetic of drinking it. Although compressed tea dancha 団茶 was drunk in Japan for medical purposes since the Nara period it was in the 9c that courtiers drank tea during social gatherings and priests drank it at the conclusion of sutra readings ceremonies. In the late 11c the priest Joujin 成尋 (1011-81) brought back tea bowls *chawan 茶碗 from Song dynasty China, and shortly after that the first powdered tea matcha 抹茶 was imported. The priest Eisai 栄西 (1141-1215), after studying in China, returned to Japan with a new enthusiasm for tea drinking as an adjunct to Buddhist practice. In addition to planting tea, Eisai wrote KISSA YOUJOUKI 喫茶養生記 in 1214, propagating the practice of tea because it preserves health, sharpens the mind, promotes ethical behavior, and leads to spiritual understanding. The book also explains the etiquette of tea preparation and drinking as Eisai learned it in China. Although tea drinking was formalized as monastic practice in some Zen temples, reportedly as an aid against drowsiness during meditation, by the first-half of the 14c the aesthetic dimensions of tea began to emerge. The expansion in tea drinking was facilitated by tea gatherings chayoriai 茶寄合 in which the participants would attempt to distinguish the provenance of different teas based on taste and aroma. These tea-guessing contests, or toucha 闘茶, were usually part of extravagant parties that featured alcohol, banqueting, music, dance, and poetry composition. The extravagant nature of these affairs earned them the name basara 婆裟羅, from the Sanshrit vajra or diamond, implying excess. Basara style tea gatherings featured the conspicuous display of Japanese and particularly Chinese treasures *karamono 唐物 in the formal reception rooms *zashiki 座敷. The decoration of the zashiki, called *zashikikazari 座敷飾 is illustrated in several painted handscrolls *emaki 絵巻 of the period such as Boki-e 幕帰絵 (1351; Nishihonganji 西本願寺, Kyoto). The need for a room to hold literary and artistic gatherings led to the development of the gathering room *kaisho 会所. The taste for Chinese artifacts fueled trade with Ming China and engendered the conspicuous collecting of Chinese and Korean ceramics and lacquer, particularly Song dynasty tenmoku 天目 (Ch: tianmu) tea bowls *tenmoku jawan 天目茶碗, as well as Song and Yuan paintings *sougenga 宋元画 by artists such as Muqi (Jp: Mokkei 牧谿, late 13c) and Liang Kai (Jp: Ryou Kai 梁楷, early 13c). The basara type of tea party reached its height in the Kitayama cultural era *Kitayama bunka 北山文化. The large number of Chinese articles that flowed into Japan for display on the tea-utensil stand *daisu 台子 brought about the need to authenticate genuine works. During the Higashiyama epoch *Higashiyama bunka 東山文化 connoisseurs known as *douboushuu 同朋衆 decided on the proper arrangement of tea wares and made catalogs of famous collections, such as the GYOMOTSU ON-E MOKUOKU 御物御画目録. The taste for Chinese treasures, karamono suki 唐物数奇 also led to their copy by Japanese artists, stimulating domestic ceramic and painting production. Chanoyu of the Higashiyama period also engendered a new environment for its drinking: the *shoin 書院, a room fitted with *tatami 畳 mats, a decorative alcove *tokonoma 床間, staggered shelves *chigaidana 違い棚, and built-in table tsukeshoin 付書院. The Doujinsai 同仁斎 shoin built for Ashikaga Yoshimasa 足利義政(1436-90) in the *Tougudou 東求堂 at his Higashiyama retreat in 1486 is considered the prototype of the shoin. The last decades of the 15c saw the further development of chanoyu away from basara practices as the tea master Murata Jukou 村田珠光 (1422-1502) sought to integrate the taste for Chinese articles with the appreciation of more rustic native wares. This finding of beauty in things simple, austere, irregular and imperfect, was termed wabi. Jukou's follower Murata Souju 村田宗珠, who held his tea gatherings in a small thatched hermitage *souan 草庵 in the center of Kyoto, created a new taste that was soon adopted by wealthy merchants in the port of Sakai 堺. Takeno Jouou 武野紹鴎 (1502-55), originally a practioner of Japanese linked verse, renga 連歌, extended the concept of wabi along the ideals of eremitism long expressed in medieval literature by reducing his souan tea room to 4 1/2 mats *yojouhan 四畳半 and leaving many of the building materials in their natural state. Wabicha わび茶 or wabi-style tea reached its apogee in the late creations of another Sakai merchant, Sen Rikyuu 千利休 (1522-91), who eventually served as tea master and confidant to the shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉 (1536-98). Rikyuu used his position to champion wabicha, further reducing the souan in size and decor, patronizing new types of native ceramics such as *rakuyaki 楽焼, and making other kinds of tea implements out of unfinished bamboo. Rikyuu also added a spiritual aspect to chanoyu, linking the practice of chanoyu with the practice of Zen. In the Momoyama period chanoyu became increasingly popular with powerful military patrons, serving as proof of their cultural hegemony, a locus for political deal-making, and as an artistic retreat from a brutalized society. Furuta Oribe 古田織部 (1544-1615), a disciple of Rikyuu altered the direction of chanoyu, expanding the size of the souan, adding subsidiary rooms *kusari-no-ma 鎖の間 so it resembled a shoin, and utilizing new tea wares regarded as oddities hyougemono ヒョウゲモノ because of their bold designs and asymmetrical, unique, shapes. Oribe also employed foreign, nanban 南蛮 designs and objects, adding to the heterodox and radical character of his aesthetic. Often called daimyoucha 大名茶 because of its supposed popularity among military patrons, Oribe's taste more accurately reflects the highly mannered spirit of the early 17c, epitomized by the word kabuku かぶく meaning not to stand straight. The next major development in chanoyu was affected by Oribe's disciple Kobori Enshuu 小堀遠州 (1579-1647), who furthered the concept of daimyoucha, allying it with Confucian ideals of loyalty, and synthesized it with elegant, literary taste of his *kireisabi 綺麗さび aesthetic. Like Oribe, Enshuu was a daimyou who served as tea master to the Tokugawa shogunate, but Enshuu's close connections with Zen priests, aristocrats, and his experience as a building and garden designer both broadened his approach to tea and helped disseminate his ideas in a variety of media. Enshuu not only wrought a reevaluation of vast styles through his selection of new *meibutsu 名物, but significantly altered the design of the *chashitsu 茶室, the type and display of tea wares, the function and style of calligraphy and painting, as well as the appearance and role of garden. Enshuu's innovations were borrowed and transformed by later tea masters such as Kanamori Souwa 金森宗和 (1584-1656) and Katagiri Sekishuu 片桐石州 (1605-73). Sen Soutan 千宗旦 (1578-1658), although the reviver of Rikyuu's wabicha and often described solely in terms of the harsh aesthetic of gokuwabi 極わび or wabi in the extreme, was also influenced by the kirei taste of Kan'ei culture. As heir to the Rikyuu tradition of wabicha, Soutan enjoyed great popularity, and after his death three of his sons founded their own lineages which continue to disseminate wabicha throughout Japan until the present day.


(C)2001 Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. No reproduction or republication without written permission.