Yoshizen's Blog

Tea Ceremony — 茶の湯、侘び助

In relation to the Sazanka post, I was looking around the Camellia flower items in the Wiki.    There are many funny stories about a mystical rare variety of the Camellia called Wabi-suke.  

You may vaguely know about Japanese Tea Ceremony — how it was refined and sophisticated etc and saw many photos of the Tea bowl, Tea room and its garden, though you may not having any idea, who actually taking part of those gatherings in the time of Samurai era.

—– In reality, if you imagine a kind of political, financial salon or a gentleman’s club = it must be the closest.  The Tea master, who host the ceremony, was THE power dealer who pull the string.    The higher the reputation of the Tea master, the guest or friend is high in the power.  The Load of the country could meet the other lord in a completely isolated, safe environment such as a Tea hut in a temple.  (Anybody go into the room has to take off their sword and kneeling into the small room.)  Tea master arranged the meeting in the certain intention.  So, an alliance deal could be made or needy War Lord could meet rich merchant and able to borrow lots of gold for a war operation etc etc.

Wabi ChawanNaturally, there was an ugly battle between the Tea masters “Who is the most prominent”.   So, to have more valuable Tea bowl in “Wabi” became a stiff competition. = Who could offer the highest price for a bowl, kind of the battle of vanity.  (Photo above must be the most typical Wabi bowl = Left made by Koetsu)

—– then, a new variety of Camellia, which doesn’t fully open its small flower was introduced into the cercle.  The flower got instant hype “This flower shows really reserved humble face.  This is THE flower to be seen in the supreme tea place”.  The particular flower was named “Wabi-suke”.  Imagine, if the Lord was greeted by a bunch of flower worth hundred of gold — guess, its impact. 

So, the shady battle to get hold the flower was fought among the Tea masters which involved even fraudulent flower growers who try to trick with sham branch while asking huge money.  (Think, the Black Tulip hype in the 18C Europe = when the big money involved, it creates crazy hype.) —— The trouble was that the “Wabi-suke” was not an established variety, (even worse, the definition was rather vague, such as “Smaller” and “Flower wouldn’t be fully opened” kind = such flower could be just a result of a malnutrition or lack of water, and similar flower could be produced by a temporary hybrid — but no flower next year or so on !) —– So, even today, some says “I believe this is “Wabi-suke” but others sees not or “My one is Wabi-suke” but others doesn’t agree —– People could see every DNA of the “reputedly” or “claimed to be” Wabi-suke though, no-one is shure which one is true Wabi-suke.   It’s so dubious and funny.)   😀

(Now you must become aware, Tea Ceremony, Tea Masters are not necessary peaceful decent kind. — could have been a center of conspiracy.   In real histories, the association of War load (even Shogun) and the Tea master, Zen monk as an Adviser or Strategist were well-known.)    😀  

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