search  current discussion  categories  forms - misc 

japanese tea bowls for tea ceremony

updated fri 31 jan 97


June Perry on fri 10 jan 97

Dear Dannon:

Summer tea bowls are wider and shallower to allow the tea to cool faster and
winter tea bowls are narrower and taller to keep the tea warmer in the cooler

Traditional tea ceremony uses a green powdered tea which is mixed with a
bamboo whisk in the tea bowl. The traditional tea bowls should have a little
well area at the bottom of the bowl to allow the last drops tea to settle.
The foot rim is supposed to be no wider than half the width of the base of
the bowl. Some articles have stated very strict guidelines for tea bowls.
When one looks at historical photos the tea bowls run the gamut in shape. I
love to make tea bowls and try to adhere to the traditional shapes and
measurements just because of personal preference.
And then of course there is a recommendation for one type of bowl to be used
for thick and another for thin powdered tea.

The tea ceremony is a form of meditation and every aspect of the ritual is to
help create that ambience.

I would suggest that you try to do some reading up on the Tea ceremony and
see if you can find some traditional bowls that you can handle either at a
museum or in an antique shop..

There are some wonderful books on Tea Ceremony and the classic utensils. One
of them is "The Art of Chanoyu The Urasenke Tradition of Tea", and another
one is
"Japanese Arts and the Tea Ceremony". Also, if you have or can borrow or
find the Christopher Tyler and Richard Hirsch book "Raku", there is on page
18, a nice write up on Raku tea bowls as well as a bit of history. Another
little paperback, but gem of a book is "Tea Ceremony" by Kaisen Iguchi,
translated by John Clark ISBN4-586-54031-1 c0176

Those early Raku tea bowls were mostly made by hand and had irregular rims.
Part of the aesthetic of tea ceremony utensils is that there must be the
absence of tightness, tension in the tools. Lids for water pots should be
loose fitting,etc.

The tea ceremony was once referred to as "The worship of the imperfect." by
Okakura Tenshin who wrote the "The Book of Tea." which I believe was the
first book ever written in English on this subject.