Tea Master for a Day

Written By: Charles - Mar• 19•08

46  bar falls 29.96 3mph NNW dewpoint 25

          Waxing Gibbous Moon of Winds

Last night the moon of winds cast shadows on our yard, elongated dogwoods, thick oak trunks and thin lines of multiple raspberry canes.  This point in the seasonal change is delicate.  Thin ice forms a lattice over the snow while tiny drops of water gather along the roof line ready to plummet the final distance to the earth.  Snow and grass play encirclement with grass spreading outward from trees and shrubs while the snow holds its own over the lawn, the hills and prairie grass.  Here there daubs of photosynthetic green have begun to appear.  Rosemary beneath the steps.  Tufts of grass up close to the house.  It is a gradual change for the moment, but soon the earth will leap and shout, fly flags of bright colors and clothe itself again in verdant splendor.

Tour today with students, 6th graders, from a Muslim school in Fridley.  As near as I could tell, the kids were mostly Somalia, all born here, but there parents emigrated.  I had the boys, David Fortney had the girls.  We circled each other for half an hour in the Islamic gallery as these children drank in the physical objects of their cultures, linking themselves to the Seljuk Turks, the Safavid Persians and the Mughals of India.  After half an hour we went into the Weber Collection (Japanese traveling exhibition).  I asked them to become tea masters selecting objects for a tea ceremony for persons unfamiliar with Japanese art.

We saw Hotei reach for the moon and a Zen monk’s ordination festival.  We learned wabi from the Negoro ware with its faded red lacquer, worn and used; we learned sabi from the tea wares, especially the lumpy and imperfect mizusashi.  I read them a Daoist poem and its conversion into a Buddhist poem by the extraction of only one line, spun downward in a flowing cursive script.  Time went fast and at the end they picked objects for their tea ceremony:  8 Views of Xiao and Xiang, the delicate miniature Song dynasty-like landscape, the Negoro spoon, the tea caddy with a silk cover, Oribe teaware and a few dishes for tea food.  Then we were done.

Afterward I copied and copied and copied, even to the end of the toner cartridge, material on Chinese bronzes.  I have a tour on Saturday that will focus only on our Chinese bronzes.  I chose them because I wanted to go deeper into the world of early Chinese dynasties like the Shang and the Chou and the Han.

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