tea ceremony

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

Japanese practice involving a highly ritualized gathering of people to prepare and drink tea. It has had a long association with the zen school and represents an extension of Zen practice into a wider, secular culture. The association of Zen and tea goes back to Eisai (1141–1215), the founder of the Rinzai school of Zen who brought tea plants back with him from China and recommended the drinking of tea to combat drowsiness while meditating. Tea found its way into aristocratic circles, where it was drunk in elegant surroundings. The artist Nōami (1397–1471) created the innovation of having tea in a separate small chamber, using a portable table and simple utensils, and restricting the conversation to aesthetic matters. His student Murata Shukō (1423–1502), who had studied Zen with Ikkyū Sōjun (1394–1481), gave the preparation and drinking of tea its Zen connection, seeing it as a way to practise the mindfulness in daily affairs that Ikkyū emphasized. Murata sought to incorporate tea into the Japanese lifestyle outside of the monastery and formulated the four principles of tea: harmony, purity, tranquillity, and reverence. Finally, Sen no Rikyū (1521–91) moved the ceremony from a residential setting to a hermit's hut. He is credited with bringing the art of tea (Jap., cha no yu) to its highest expression of simplicity and refinement.

Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.