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THE BOOK OF TEA 



I 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



Cv^- 



BY 



OKAKURA-KAKUZO 



G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 

London and New York 

1906 



cyco 



Copyright 1906 by 
Fox Dui^FiEi^D & Company 






To 
JOHN LAFARGB 

Sensei 



229601 



I 

I 



CONTENTS 



PAOS 



Chapter I. The Cup of Humanity 



Tea ennobled into Teaism, a religion of 
aestheticism, the adoration of the beautiful 
among everyday facts — Teaism developed 
among both nobles and peasants — The mutual 
misunderstanding of the New World and the 
Old— The Worship of Tea in the West — 
Early records of Tea in European writing — 
The Taoists' version of the combat between 
Spirit and Matter — The modern struggle for 
wealth and power 3 

Chapter II. The Schools of Tea 

The three stages of the evolution of Tea — The 
Boiled Tea, the Whipped Tea, and the Steeped 
Tea, representative of the Tang, the Sung, and 
the Ming dynasties of China — Luwuh, the 
first apostle of Tea— The Tea-ideals of the 
three dynasties — To the latter-day Chinese Tea 
is a delicious beverage, but not an ideal — In 
Japan Tea is a religion of the art of life • . 25 

Chapter III. Taoism and Zennism 

The connection of Zennism with Tea — Taoism, 
and its successor Zennism, represent the indi- 
vidualistic trend of the Southern Chinese mind 
— Taoism accepts the mundane and tries to 
find beauty in our world of woe and worry — 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

Zennism emphasizes the teachings of Taoism — 
Through consecrated meditation may be at- 
tained supreme self-realisation — Zennism, like 
Taoism, is the worship of Relativity — Ideal of 
Teaism a result of the Zen conception of great- 
ness in the smallest incidents of life — Taoism 
furnished the basis for aesthetic ideals, Zennism 
made them practical 47 

Chapter IV. The Tea-Room 

The tea-room does not pretend to be other than 
a mere cottage — The simplicity and purism of 
the tea-room — Symbolism in the construction 
of the tea-room — The system of its decoration 
— A sanctuary from the vexations of the outer 
world 7S 



Chapter V. Art Appreciation 

Sympathetic communion of minds necessary 
for art appreciation — The secret understand- 
ing between the master and ourselves — The 
value of suggestion — Art is of value only to 
the extent that it speaks to us — No real feel- 
ing in much of the apparent enthusiasm to-day 
— Confusion of art with archaeology — ^We are 
destroying art in destroying the beautiful in 
life lOS 



^Chapter VI. Flowers 

Flowers our constant friends — The Master of 
Flowers — The waste of Flowers^ among West- 
ern conmiunities — The art of floriculture in 
the East— The Tea-Masters and the Cult of 
Flowers — The Art of Flower Arrangement — 
The adoration of the Flower for its own sake 

viii 



CONTENTS 



PACE 

— The Flower-Masters — Two main branches of 
the schools of Flower Arrangement, the For- 
malistic and the Naturalesque 123 

Chapter JBI. _Tea-Masters 

Real appreciation of art only possible to those 
who make of it a living influence — Contribu- 
tions of the Tea-Masters to art — Their influence 
on the conduct of life— The Last Tea of Rikiu 151 



,THE CUP OF HUMANITY 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



THE CUP OF HUMANITY 

iEA began as a medicine and grew 
into a beverage. In China, in the 
eighth century, it entered the reahn of 
poetry as one of the polite amusements. 
The fifteenth century saw Japan enno- 
ble it into a religion of aestheticism — 
Teaism. Teaism is a cult founded on 
the adoration of the beautiful among 
the sordid facts of everyday existence. 
It inculcates purity and harmony, the 
mystery of mutual charity, the roman- 
ticism of the social order. It is essen- 
tially a worship of the Imperfect, as it 
is a tender attempt to accomplish some- 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



thing possible in this impossible thing 
we know as life. 

The Philosophy of Tea is not mere 
aestheticism in the ordinary acceptance 
of the term, for it expresses conjointly 
with ethics and religion our whole point 
of view about man and nature. It is 
^ hygiene, for it enforces cleanliness; it 
is economics, for it shows comfort in 
simplicity rather than in the complex 
and costly; it is moral geometry, inas- 
much as it defines our sense of propor- 
tion to the universe. It represents the 
true spirit of Eastern democracy by 
making all its votaries aristocrats in 
taste. 

The long isolation of Japan from 
the rest of the world, so conducive to in- 
trospection, has been highly favourable 
to the development of Teaism. Our 
home and habits, costume and cuisine, 
4 



THE CUP OF HUMANITY 

porcelain, lacquer, painting — our very 
literature — all have been subject to its 
influence. No student of Japanese cul- 
ture could ever ignore its presence. It 
has permeated the elegance of noble 
boudoirs, and entered the abode of the 
humble. Our peasants have learned to 
arrange flowers, our meanest labourer 
to off'er his salutation to the rocks and 
waters. In our common parlance we 
speak of the man '' with no tea '' in him, 
when he is insusceptible to the serio- 
comic interests of the personal drama. 
Again we stigmatise the untamed aes- 
thete who, regardless of the mundane 
tragedy, runs riot in the springtide of 
emancipated emotions, as one " with too 
much tea " in him. 

The outsider may indeed wonder at 
this seeming much ado about nothing. 
[What a tempest in a tea-cup 1 he will 
5 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



say. But when we consider how small 
after all the cup of human enjoyment 
is, how soon overflowed with tears, how 
easily drained to the dregs in our 
quenchless thirst for infinity, we shall 
not blame ourselves for making so 
much of the tea-cup. Mankind has 
done worse. In the worship of Bac- 
chus, we have sacrificed too freely; and 
we have even transfigured the gory 
image of Mars. Why not consecrate 
ourselves to the queen of the Camelias, 
and revel in the warm stream of sym- 
pathy that flows from her altar? In 
the liquid amber within the ivory-porce- 
lain, the initiated may touch the sweet 
reticence of Confucius, the piquancy of 
Laotse, and the ethereal aroma of Saky- 
amuni himself. 

Those who cannot feel the littleness 
of great things in themselves are apt to 
6 



THE CUP OF HUMANITY 

overlook the greatness of little things in 
others. The average Westerner, in his 
sleek complacency, will see in the tea 
ceremony but another instance of the 
thousand and one oddities which con- 
stitute the quaintness and childishness 
of the East to him. He was wont to 
regard Japan as barbarous while she 
indulged in the gentle arts of peace: he 
calls her ' civilised since she began to 
commit wholesale slaughter on Manchu- 
rian battlefields. -'^ Much comment has 
been given lately to the Code of the 
Samurai, — the Art of Death which 
makes our soldiers exult in self-sacri- 
fice ; but scarcely any attention has been 
drawn to Teaism, which represents so 
much of our Art of Life. Fain would 
we remain barbarians, if our claim to 
civilisation were to be based on the grue- 
some glory of war. Fain would we 
7 



THE BOOK OF TEA 

await the time when due respect shall 
be paid to our art and ideals. 

When will the West understand, or 
try to understand, the East? We 
Asiatics are often appalled by the curi- 
ous web of facts and fancies which has 
been woven concerning us. We are pic- ' 
tured as living on the perfume of the 
lotus, if not on mice and cockroaches. 
It is either impotent fanaticism or else 
abject voluptuousness. Indian spiritu- 
ality has been derided as ignorance, 
Chinese sobriety as stupidity, Japanese 
patriotism as the result of fatalism. It 
has been said that we are less sensible 
to pain and wounds on account of the 
callousness of our nervous organisation! 

Why not amuse yourselves at our ex- 
pense? Asia returns the compliment. 
There would be further food for merri- 
ment if you were to know all that we 
8 



THE CUP OF HUMANITY 

have imagined and written about you* 
All the glamour of the perspective is 
there, all the unconscious homage of 
wonder, all the silent resentment of the 
new and undefined. You have been 
loaded with virtues too refined to be 
envied, and accused of crimes too pic- 
turesque to be condemned. Our writers 
in the past — the wise men who knew — 
informed us that you had bushy tails 
somewhere hidden in your garments, 
and often dined off a fricassee of new- 
born babes! Nay, we had something 
worse against you: we used to think you 
the most impracticaT^J^ people on the 
earth, for you were said to preach what 
you never practised. 

Such misconceptions are fast vanish- 
ing amongst us. Commerce has forced 
the European tongues on many an 
Eastern port. Asiatic youths are flock- 
9 



THE BOOK OF TE:A! 



ing to Western colleges for the equip- 
ment of modern education. Our in- 
sight does not penetrate your culture 
deeply, but at least we are willing to 
learn. Some of my compatriots have 
adopted too much of your customs and 
too much of your etiquette, in the delu- 
sion that the acquisition of stiff collars 
and tall silk hats comprised the attain- 
ment of your civilisation. Pathetic 
and deplorable as such affectations are, 
they evince our willingness to approach 
the West on our knees. Unfortunately 
the Western attitude is unfavourable 
to the understanding of the East. The 
Christian missionary goes to impart, 
but not to receive. Your information 
is based on the meagre translations of 
our immense literature, if not on the 
unreliable anecdotes of passing trav- 
ellers. It is rarely that the chivalrous 
10 



THE CUP OF HUMANITY 

pen of a Laf cadio Hearn or that of the 
author of '' The Web of Indian Life " 
enHvens the Oriental darkness with the 
torch of our own sentiments. 

Perhaps I betray my own ignorance 
of the Tea Cult by being so outspoken. 
Its very spirit of politeness exacts that 
you say what you are expected to say, 
and no more. But I am not to be a 
polite Teaist. So much harm nas been 
done already by the mutual misunder- 
standing of the New World and the 
Old, that one need not apologise for 
contributing his tithe to the furtherance 
of a better understanding. The begin- 
ning of the twentieth century would 
have been spared the spectacle of san- 
guinary warfare if Russia had conde- 
scended to know Japan better. What 
dire consequences to himianity lie in 
the contemptuous ignoring of Eastern 
11 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



problems ! European imperialism, which 
does not disdain to raise the absurd cry 
of the Yellow Peril, fails to realise that 
Asia may also awaken to the cruel 
sense of the White Disaster. You may 
laugh at us for having " too much tea," 
but may we not suspect that you of the 
West have "no tea" in your consti- 
tution? 

Let us stop the continents from 
hurling epigrams at each other, and be 
sadder if not wiser by the mutual gain 
of half a hemisphere. We have devel- 
oped along different lines, but there is 
no reason why one should not supple- 
ment the other. You have gained ex- 
pansion at the cost of restlessness; we 
have created a harmony which is weak 
against aggression. Will you believe 
it? — the East is better oif in some re- 
spects than the West! 
12 



THE CUP OF HUMANITY 

Strangely enough humanity has so 
far met in the tea-cup. It is the only 
Asiatic ceremonial which conmaands 
universal esteem. The white man has 
scoffed at our religion and our morals, 
but has accepted the brown beverage 
without hesitation. The afternoon tea 
is now an important function in West- 
ern society. In the delicate clatter of 
trays and saucers, in the soft rustle of 
feminine hospitality, in the common 
catechism about cream and sugar, we 
know that the Worship of Tea is estab- 
lished beyond question. The philo- 
sophic resignation of the guest to the 
fate awaiting him in the dubious de- 
coction proclaims that in this single 
instance the Oriental spirit reigns 
supreme. 

The earliest record of tea in Enro- 
ls 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



pean writing is said to be found in the 
statement of an Arabian traveller, that 
after the year 879 the main sources of 
revenue in Canton were the duties on 
salt and tea, Marco Polo records the 
deposition of a Chinese minister of 
finance in 1285 for his arbitrary aug- 
mentation of the tea-taxes. It was at 
the period of the great discoveries that 
the European people began to know 
more about the extreme Orient. At the 
end of the sixteenth century the Hol- 
landers brought the news that a pleas- 
ant drink was made in the East from 
the leaves of a bush. The travellers 
Giovanni Batista Ramusio (1559), L* 
Almeida (1576), MafFeno (1588)', 
Tareira (1610), also mentioned tea.^ 
In the last-named year ships of the 
Dutch East India Company brought 

1 Paul Kransel, Dissertations, Berlin, 190^. 
14 



I 



THE CUP OF HUMANITY 

the first tea into Europe. It was known 
in France in 1636, and reached Russia 
in 1638.^ England welcomed it in 1650 
and spoke of it as " That excellent and 
by all physicians approved China drink, 
called by the Chineans Tcha, and by 
other nations Tay, alias Tee/* 

Like all the good things of the world, 
the propaganda of Tea met with oppo- 
sition. Heretics like Henry Saville 
(1678) denounced drinking it as a filthy 
custom. Jonas Han way (Essay on 
Tea, 1756) said that men seemed to 
lose their stature and comeliness, wo- 
men their beauty through the use of tea. 
Its cost at the start (about fifteen or 
sixteen shillings a pound) forbade pop- 
ular consumption, and made it " regalia 
for high treatments and entertainments, 
presents being made thereof to princes 

2Mercurius Politicus, 1656, 

16 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



and grandees." Yet in spite of such 
drawbacks tea-drinking spread with 
marvellous rapidity. The coffee-houses 
of London in the early half of the 
eighteenth century became, in fact, tea- 
houses, the resort of wits like Addison 
and Steele, who beguiled themselves 
over their " dish of tea." The beverage 
soon became a necessary of life — a tax- 
able matter. We are reminded in this 
connection what an important part it 
plays in modern history. Colonial 
America resigned herself to oppression 
until human endurance gave way before 
the heavy duties laid on Tea. Ameri- 
can independence dates from the throw- 
ing of tea-chests into Boston harbour. 
There is a subtle charm in the taste 
of tea which makes it irresistible and 
capable of idealisation. Western hu- 
mourists were not slow to mingle the 
16 



I 



THE CUP OF HUMANITY 



fragrance of their thought with its 
aroma. It has not the arrogance of 
wine, the self -consciousness of coif ee, 
nor the simpering innocence of cocoa. 
Already in 1711, says the Spectator: 
" I would therefore in a particular 
manner recommend these my specula- 
tions to all well-regulated families that 
set apart an hour every morning for 
tea, bread and butter; and would ear- 
nestly advise them for their good to 
order this paper to be punctually served 
up and to be looked upon as a part 
of the tea-equipage." Samuel Johnson 
draws his own portrait as " a hardened 
and shameless tea-drinker, who for 
twenty years diluted his meals with only 
the infusion of the fascinating plant; 
who with tea amused the evening, with 
tea solaced the midnight, and with tea 
Bvelcomed the morning." 
17 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



Charles Lamb, a professed devotee, 
sounded the true note of Teaism when 
he wrote that the greatest pleasure he 
knew was to do a good action by- 
stealth, and to have found it out by ac- 
cident. For Teaism is the art of con- 
cealing beauty that you may discover it, 
of suggesting what you dare not reveal. 
It is the noble secret of laughing at 
yourself, calmly yet thoroughly, and 
is thus humour itself, — the smile of 
philosophy. All genuine humourists 
may in this sense be called tea-philoso- 
phers, — Thackeray, for instance, and, 
of course, Shakespeare. The poets of 
the Decadence (when was not the world 
in decadence?) , in their protests against 
materialism, have, to a certain extent, 
also opened the way to Teaism. Per- 
haps nowadays it is our demure con- 
templation of the Imperfect that the 
18 



THE CUP OF HUMANITY 

West and the East can meet in mutual 
consolation. 

The Taoists relate that at the great 
beginning of the No-Beginning, Spirit 
and Matter met in mortal combat. At 
last the Yellow Emperor, the Sun of 
Heaven, triumphed over Shuhyung, 
the demon of darkness and earth. The 
Titan, in his death agony, struck his 
head against the solar vault and shiv- 
ered the blue dome of jade into frag- 
ments. The stars lost their nests, the 
moon wandered aimlessly among the 
wild chasms of the night. In despair 
the Yellow Emperor sought far and 
wide for the repairer of the Heavens. 
He had not to search in vain. Out of 
the Eastern sea rose a queen, the divine 
Niuka, horn-crowned and dragon- 
tailed, resplendent in her armour of 
fire. She welded the five-coloured rain- 
19 



THE BOOK OF TEA 

bow in her magic cauldron and rebuilt 
the Chinese sky. But it is also told that 
Niuka forgot to fill two tiny crevices 
in the blue firmament. Thus began the 
dualism of love — two souls rolling 
through space and never at rest until 
they join together to complete the uni- 
verse. Everyone has to build anew his 
sky of hope and peace. 

The heaven of modern humanity 
is indeed shattered in the Cyclopean 
struggle for wealth and power. The 
world is groping in the shadow of ego- 
tism and vulgarity. Knowledge is 
bought through a bad conscience, De- 
nevolence practised for the sake of 
utility. The East and West, like two 
dragons tossed in a sea of ferment, in 
vain strive to regain the jewel of life. 
We need a Niuka again to repair the 
grand devastation; we await the great 

go 



THE CUP OF HUMANITY 

Avatar. Meanwhile, let us have a sip 
of tea. The afternoon glow is bright- 
ening the bamboos, the fountains are 
bubbling with delight, the soughing 
of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let 
us dream of evanescence, and linger in 
the beautiful foolishness of things. 



21 



F 



II 

THE SCHOOLS OE TEA 



II 

THE SCHOOLS OF TEA 

TEA is a work of art and needs a 
master hand to bring out its no- 
blest qualities. We have good and bad 
tea, as we have good and bad paintings 
— generally the latter. There is no sin- 
gle recipe for making the perfect tea, 
as there are no rules for producing a 
Titian or a Sesson. Each preparation 
of the leaves has its individuality, its 
special affinity with water and heat, its 
hereditary memories to recall, its own 
method of telling a story. The truly 
beautiful must be always in it. How 
much do we not suffer through the con- 
stant failure of society to recognise this 
simple and fundamental law of art and 
25 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



life; Lichihlai, a Sung poet, has sadly 
remarked that there were three most de- 
plorable things in the world: the spoil- 
ing of fine youths through false educa- 
tion, the degradation of fine paintings 
through vulgar admiration, and the 
utter waste of fine tea through incompe- 
tent manipulation. 

Like Art, Tea has its periods and its 
schools. Its evolution may be roughly 
divided into three main stages: the 
Boiled Tea, the Whipped Tea, and the 
Steeped Tea. We moderns belong to 
the last school. These several methods 
of appreciating the beverage are indi- 
cative of the spirit of the age in which 
they prevailed. For life is an expres- 
sion, our unconscious actions the con- 
stant betrayal of our innermost thought. 
Confucius said that " man hideth not." 
Perhaps we reveal ourselves too much 
26 



I 



THE SCHOOLS OF TEA 

in small things because we have so little 
of the great to conceal. The tiny inci- 
dents of daily routine are as much a 
commentary of racial ideals as the high- 
est flight of philosophy or poetry, 
\Even as the difference in favourite 
vintage marks the separate idiosyn- 
jcrasies of diif erent periods and nation- 
alities of Europe, so the Tea-ideals 
characterise the various moods of Ori- 
ental culture. The Cake-tea which was • 
boiled, the Powdered-tea which was 
whipped, the Leaf-tea which was 
steeped, mark the distinct emotional im- 
pulses of the Tang, the Sung, and the 
Ming dynasties of China. If we were 
inclined to borrow the much-abused ter- 
minology of art-classification, we might 
designate them respectively, the Classic, • 
the Romantic, and the Naturalistic 
schools of Tea. 

27 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



The tea-plant, a native of southern 
China, was known from very early- 
times to Chinese botany and medicine. 
It is alluded to in the classics under the 
various names of Tou, Tseh, Chung, 
Kha, and Ming, and was highly prized 
for possessing the virtues of relieving 
fatigue, delighting the soul, strength- 
ening the will, and repairing the eye- 
sight. It was not only administered 
as an internal dose, but often applied 
externally in form of paste to alleviate 
rheumatic pains. The Taoists claimed 
it as an important ingredient of the 
elixir of immortality. The Buddhists 
used it extensively to prevent drowsi- 
ness during their long hours of medi- 
tation. 

* By the fourth and fifth centuries Tea 

became a favourite beverage among the 

inhabitants of the Yangtse-Kiang val- 

»8 



THE SCHOOLS OF TEA 

ley. It was about this time that the 
modern ideograph Cha was coined, evi- 
dently a corruption of the classic Tou. 
The poets of the southern dynasties 
have left some fragments of their ferv- 
ent adoration of the "froth of the liquid 
jade/' Then emperors used to bestow 
some rare preparation of the leaves on 
their high ministers as a reward for 
eminent services. Yet the method of 
drinking tea at this stage was primi- 
tive in the extreme. The leaves were 
steamed, crushed in a mortar, made into 
a cake, and boiled together with rice, 
ginger, salt, orange peel, spices, milk, 
and sometimes with onions! The cus- 
tom obtains at the present day among 
the Thibetans and various Mongolian 
tribes, who make a curious syrup of 
these ingredients. The use of lemon 
slices by the Russians, who learned to 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



take tea from the Chinese caravansaries, 
points to the survival of the ancient 
method. 

^ It needed the genius of the Tang dy- 
nasty to emancipate Tea from its crude 
state and lead to its final idealisation. 

^ With Luwuh in the middle of the eighth 
century we have our first apostle of tea. 
He was born in an age when Bud- 
dhism, Taoism, and Confucianism were 
seeking mutual synthesis. The pan- 
theistic symbolism of the time was urg- 
ing one to mirror the Universal in the 
Particular. Luwuh, a poet, saw in the 
Tea-service the same harmony and order 
which reigned through all things-. In | 
his celebrated work, the " Chaking " 

^ (The Holy Scripture of Tea) he form- 
ulated the Code of Tea. He has since 
been worshipped as the tutelary god of | 
the Chinese tea merchants. 
30 



THE SCHOOLS OF TEA 

The " Chaking " consists of three vol- 
umes and ten chapters. In the first 
chapter Luwuh treats of the nature of 
the tea-plant, in the second of the im- 
plements for gathering the leaves, in 
the third of the selection of the leaves. 
According to him the best quality of 
the leaves must have " creases like the 
leathern boot of Tartar horsemen, curl 
like the dewlap of a mighty bullock, 
unfold like a mist rising out of a ravine, 
gleam like a lake touched by a zephyr, 
and be wet and soft like fine earth newly 
swept by rain.'' 

The fourth chapter is devoted to 
the enumeration and description of the 
twenty-four members of the tea-equip- 
age, beginning with the tripod brazier 
and ending with the bamboo cabinet for 
containing all these utensils. Here we 
notice Luwuh's predilection for Taoist 
^ -^ 31 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



symbolism. Also it is interesting to ob- 
serve in this connection the influence of 
tea on Chinese ceramics. The Celestial 
porcelain, as is well known, had its 
origin in an attempt to reproduce the 
exquisite shade of jade, resulting, in the 
Tang dynasty, in the blue glaze of the 
south, and the white glaze of the north. 
Luwuh considered the blue as the ideal 
colour for the tea-cup, as it lent addi- 
tional greenness to the beverage, where- 
as the white made it look pinkish and 
distasteful. It was because he used 
cake-tea. Later on, when the tea mas- 
ters of Sung took to the powdered tea, 
they preferred heavy bowls of blue- 
black and dark brown. The Mings, 
with their steeped tea, rejoiced in light 
ware of white porcelain. 

In the fifth chapter Luwuh describes 
the method of making tea. He elimi- 



i 



THE SCHOOLS OF TEA 

nates all ingredients except salt. He 
dwells also on the much-discussed ques- 
tion of the choice of water and the de- 
gree of boiling it. According to him, 
the mountain spring is the best, the river 
water and the spring water come next 
in the order of excellence. There are 
three stages of boiling: the first boil is 
when the little bubbles like the eye of 
fishes swim on the surface; the second 
boil is when the bubbles are like crystal 
beads rolling in a fountain; the third 
boil is when the billows surge wildly in 
the kettle. The Cake-tea is roasted be- 
fore the fire until it becomes soft like 
a baby's arm and is shredded into pow- 
der between pieces of fine paper. Salt 
is put in the first boil, the tea in the sec- 
ond. At the third boil, a dipper ful of 
cold water is poured into the kettle to 
settle the tea and revive the " youth of 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



the water." Then the beverage was 
poured into cups and drunk. O nectar! 
The fihny leaflet hung like scaly clouds 
in a serene sky or floated like water- 
lilies on emerald streams. It was of 
such a beverage that Lotung, a Tang 
poet, wrotq/z^'The first cup moistens 
my lips ana throat, the second cup 
breaks my loneliness, the third cup 
searches my barren entrail but to find 
therein some five thousand volumes of 
odd ideographs.- The fourth cup raises 
a slight perspiration, — all the wrong of 
life passes away through my pores. At 
the fifth cup I am purified; the sixth 
cup calls me to the realms of immortals. 
The seventh cup — ah, but I could 
take no more! I only feel the breath 
of cool wind that rises in my sleeves. 
Where is Horaisan? ^ Let me ride 

iThe Chinese Elysium. 



THE SCHOOLS OF TEA 

on this sweet breeze and waft away 
thither/' 

The remaining chapters of the '' Cha- 
king '* treat of the vulgarity of the 
ordinary methods of tea-drinking, a 
historical summary of illustrious tea- 
drinkers, the famous tea plantations of 
China, the possible variations of the tea- 
service and illustrations of the tea- 
utensils. The last is unfortunately lost. 

The appearance of the " Chaking " 
must have created considerable sensa- 
tion at the time. Luwuh was be- • 
friended by the Emperor Taisung 
\ ( 763-779 ) , and his fame attracted i 
many followers. Some exquisites were 
said to have been able to detect the tea 
made by Luwuh from that of his dis- 
ciples. One mandarin has his name im- 
mortalised by his failure to appreciate 
the tea of this great master. 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



In the Sung dynasty the whipped tea 
came into fashion and created the sec- 
ond school of Tea. The leaves were 
ground to fine powder in a small stone 
mill, and the preparation was whipped 
in hot water by a delicate whisk made 
of split bamboo. The new process led 
to some change in the tea-equipage of 
Luwuh, as well as the choice of leaves. 
Salt was discarded forever. The enthu- 
siasm of the Sung people for tea knew 
no bounds. Epicures vied with each 
other in discovering new varieties, and 
regular tournaments were held to decide 
their superiority. The Emperor Kia- 
sung (1101-1124), who was too great 
an artist to be a well-behaved monarch, 
lavished his treasures on the attainment 
of rare species. He himself wrote a 
dissertation on the twenty kinds of 
tea, among which he prizes the 
36 



THE SCHOOLS OF TEA 

" white tea " as of the rarest and finest 
quality. 

The tea-ideal of the Sungs differed * 
from the Tangs even as their notion of 
life differed. They sought to actual- 
ise what their predecessors tried to sym- 
bolise. To the Neo-Confucian mind the 
cosmic law was not reflected in the phe- 
nomenal world, but the phenomenal 
world was the cosmic law itself. iEons 
were but moments — Nirvana always 
within grasp. The Taoist conception 
that immortality lay in the eternal 
change permeated all their modes of 
thought. It was the process, not the 1 
deed, which was interesting. It was 
the completing, not the completion, 
which was really vital. Man came thus ^ 
at once face to face with nature. A 
new meaning grew into the art of life. 
The tea began f-o be not a poetical pas- 
3T 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



time, but one of the methods of self- 
realisation. Wangyucheng eulogised 
tea as " flooding his soul like a direct 
appeal, that its delicate bitterness re- 
minded him of the after-taste of a 
good counsel." Sotumpa wrote of the 
strength of the immaculate purity in 
tea which defied corruption as a truly 
virtuous man. Among the Buddhists, 
the southern Zen sect, which incorpo- 
rated so much of Taoist doctrines, 
formulated an elaborate ritual of tea. 
The monks gathered before the image 
of Bodhi Dharma and drank tea out of 
a single bowl with the profound formal- 
ity of a holy sacrament. It was this 
Zen ritual which finally developed into 
the Tea-ceremony of Japan in the fif- 
teenth century. 

Unfortunately the sudden outburst 
of the Mongol tribes in the thirteenth 
38 



THE SCHOOLS OF TEA 

century which resulted in the devasta- 
tion and conquest of China under the ' 
barbaric rule of the Yuen Emperors, / 
destroyed all the fruits of Sung culture. ^ 
The native dynasty of the Mings which 
attempted re-nationalisation in the mid- 
dle of the fifteenth century was harassed 
by internal troubles, and China again 
fell under the alien rule of the Manchus I 
in the seventeenth century. Manners 
and customs changed to leave no vestige 
of the former times. The powdered tea , 
is entirely forgotten. We find a Ming ^ 
commentator at loss to recall the shape 
of the tea whisk mentioned in one of 
the Sung classics. Tea is now taken ♦ 
by steeping the leaves in hot water \ 
I in a bowl or cup. The reason why 
the Western world is innocent of the 
older method of drinking tea is ex- 
plained by the fact that Europe knew 
39 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



it only at the close of the Ming 
dynasty. 

, To the latter-day Chinese tea is a de- 
licious beverage, but not an ideal. The 
long woes of his country have robbed 
him of the zest for the meaning of 
life. He has become modern, that is to 
say, old and disenchanted. He has lost 
that sublime faith in illusions which con- 
stitutes the eternal youth and vigour 
of the poets and ancients. He is an 
eclectic and politely accepts the tradi- 
tions of the universe. He toys with 
Nature, but does not condescend to 
conquer or worship her. His Leaf -tea 
is often wonderful with its flower-like 
aroma, but the romance of the Tang 
and Sung ceremonials are not to be 
found in his cup. 

Japan, which followed closely on the 
footsteps of Chinese civilisation, has 
40 



THE SCHOOLS OF TEA 

known the tea in all its three stages. 
As early as the year 729 we read of / 
the Emperor Shomu giving tea to one 
hundred monks at his palace in Nara. 
TJie leaves were probably imported by 
our ambassadors to the Tang Court and 
prepared in the way then in fashion. 
In 801 the monk Saicho brought back 
some seeds and planted them in Yeisan. 
Many tea-gardens are heard of in the 
succeeding centuries, as well as the de- 
light of the aristocracy and priesthood 
in the beverage. The Sung tea reached 
us in 1191 with the return of Yeisai- 
zenji, who went there to study the south- 
ern Zen school. The new seeds which 
he carried home were successfully 
planted in three places, one of which, 
the Uji district near Kioto, bears still 
the name of producing the best tea in 
the world. The southern Zen spread "* 
41 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



witE marvellous rapidity, and with it 
the tea-ritual and the tea-ideal of the 
Sung. By the fifteenth century, under 
the patronage of the Shogun, Ashik- 

\ aga-Voshinasa, the tea ceremony is fully 
constituted and made into an independ- 
ent and secular performance. Since 
j/" then Teaism is fully established in. 

->-Japan. The use of the steeped tea of 
the later China is comparatively recent 
among us, being only known since the 
middle of the seventeenth century. It 
has replaced the powdered tea in ordi- 
nary consumption, though the latter 
still continues to hold its place as the tea 
of teas. 

It is in the Japanese tea ceremony 

/ that we see the culmination of tea-ideals. 
Our successful resistance of the Mongol 
invasion in 1281 had enabled us to carry 

\ on the Sung movement so disastrously 

42 



THE SCHOOLS OF TEA 

cut off in China itself through the no- ^ 
madic inroad. Tea with us became \ 
more than an idealisation of the form 
of drinking; it is a religion of the art* 
of life. The beverage grew to be an 
excuse for the worship of purity and 
refinement, a sacred function at which 
the host and guest joined to produce 
for that occasion the utmost beatitude 
of the mundane. The tea-room was an. 
oasis in the dreary waste of existence 
where weary travellers could meet to 
drink from the common spring of art- 
appreciation. The ceremony was an 
improvised drama whose plot was woven 
about the tea, the flowers, and the paint- 
ings. Not a colour to disturb the tone 
of the room, not a sound to mar the 
rhythm of things, not a gesture to ob- 
trude on the harmony, not a word to 
break the unity of the surroundings, all 
43 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



movements to be performed simply 
and naturally — such were the aims 
of the tea-ceremony. And strangely 
enough it was often successful. A sub- 
tle philosophy lay behind it all. Teaism 
was Taoism in disguise. 



U 



Ill 



.TAOISM AND ZENNISM 



Ill 

TAOISM AND ZENNISM 

THE connection of Zennism witH 
tea is proverbial. We have al- 
ready remarked that the tea-ceremony 
was a development of ..the Zm 
The name of I^aotsie, the founder of 
Taoism, is also intimately associated 
with the history of tea. It is written in 
the Chinese school manual concerning 
the origin of habits and customs that 
the ceremony of offering tea to a guest 
began with Kwanyin, a well-known dis- 
ciple of Laotse, who first at the gate of 
the Han Pass presented to the " Old 
Philosopher" a cup of the golden elixir. 
We shall not stop to discuss the authen- 
ticity of such tales, which are valuable, 
47 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



s 



however, as confirming the early use of 
the beverage by the Taoists. Our in- 
terest in Taoism and Zennism here lies 
^ mainly in those ideas regarding life and 
art which are so embodied in what we 
call Teaism. 

It is to be regretted that as yet there 
appears to be no adequate presentation 
of the Taoists and Zen doctrines in any 
foreign language, though we have had 
several laudable attempts/ 
>^^^ ('^Translation is always a treason, and 
"*^ as a Ming author observes, can at its 
best be only the reverse side of a bro- 
cade, — all the threads are there, but not 
the subtlety of colour or design. But, 
after all, what great doctrine is there 
which is easy to expound? The ancient 

iWe should like to call attention to Dr. Paul 
Carus's admirable translation of the 'Taotei King/ 
The Open Court Publishing Company, Chicago, 1898. 

48 



TAOISM AND ZENNISM 

sages never put their teachings in sys- 
tematic form. They spoke in para- 
doxes, for they were afraid of uttering 
half-truths. They began by talking 
like fools and ended by making their 
hearers wise. Laotse himself, with his 
quaint humour, says, " If people of in- 
ferior intelligence hear of the Tao, they 
laugh immensely. It would not be the 
Tao unless they laughed at it." 

The Tao literally means a Path. It 
has been severally translated as the 
Way, the Absolute, the Law, Nature, 
Supreme Reason, the Mode. These 
renderings are not incorrect, for the use 
of the term by the Taoists differs ac- 
cording to the subject-matter of the in- 
quiry. Laotse himself spoke of it thus: 
" There is a thing which is all-contain- 
ing, which was born before the exist- 
ence of Heaven and Earth. How si- 
49 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



lent! How solitary! It stands alone 
and changes not. It revolves without 
danger to itself and is the mother of 
the universe. I do not know its name 
and so call it the Path. With reluct- 
ance I call it the Infinite. Infinity is 
the Fleeting, the Fleeting is the Vanish- 
ing, the Vanishing is the Reverting." 
The Tao is in the Passage rather than 
the Path. It is the spirit of Cosmic 
Change, — the eternal growth which re- 
turns upon itself to produce new forms. 
It recoils upon itself like the dragon, 
the beloved symbol of the Taoists. It 
folds and unfolds as do the clouds. The 
Tao might be spoken of as the Great 
Transition. Subjectively it is the Mood 
of the Universe. Its Absolute is the 
Relative. 

It should be remembered in the first 
place that Taoism, like its legitimate 
50 



TAOISM AND ZENNISM 

successor Zennism, represents the indi- 
vidualistic trend of the Southerij^Chi-^ 
nese mind in contra-distinction to the ' 
communism of Northern China which 
expressed itself in Confucianism. ;The 
Middle Kingdom is^ as vast as Europe 
and has a differentiation of idiosyncra- 
sies marked by the two great river sys- 
tems which traverse it. The Yangste- 
Kiang and Hoang-Ho are respectively 
the Mediterranean and the Baltic. 
Even to-day, in spite of centuries of 
unification, the Southern Celestial dif- 
fers in his thoughts and beliefs from 
his Northern brother as a member of the 
Latin race differs from the Teuton. In 
ancient days, when communication was 
even more difficult than at present, and 
especially during the feudal period, 
I this difference in thought was most pro- 
nounced. The art and poetry^ of the 
61 



'x9 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



one breathes an atmosphere entirely 
distinct from that of the other. In 
Laotse and his followers and in Kutsu- 
gen, the forerunner of the Yangtse- 
Kiang nature-poets, we find an ideal- 
ism quite inconsistent with the prosaic 
ethical notions of their contemporary- 
northern writers. Laotse lived five 
centuries before the Christian Era. 

iThe germ of Taoist speculation may- 
be found long before the advent of La- 
otse, surnamed the Long-Eared. The 
archaic records of China, especially the 
Book of Changes, foreshadow his 
thought. But the great respect paid 
to the laws and customs of that classic 
period of Chinese civilisation which cul- 
minated with the establishment of the 
Chow dynasty in the sixteenth century 
B. c.^ kept the development of individ- 
ualism in check for a long while, so that 
62 



TAOISM AND ZENNISM 



was not until after the disintegration 
^f the Chow dynasty and the establish- 
ment of innumerable independent king- 
doms that it was able to blossom forth 
in the luxuriance of free-thought. La- 
otse and Soshi (Chuangtse) were both 
Southerners and the greatest exponents 
of the New School. On the other hand 
Confucius with his numerous disciples 
aimed at retaining ancestral conven- 
tions. Taoism cannot be understood 
^without some knowledge of Confucian- 
ism and vice versa. 

We have said that the Taoist Abso- 1 

■'■? 

lute was the Relative. In ethics the 
Taoist railed at the laws and the moral 
codes of society, for to them right and 
wrong were but relative terms. Defi- 
nition is always limitation — ^the " fixed " 
and " unchangeless " are but terms ex- 
pressive of a stoppage of growth. Said 
63 



THE BOOK OF TEAi 

Kuzugen, — ^' The Sages move the 
world." Our standards of morality are 
begotten of the past needs of society, 
but is society to remain always the same? 
The observance of communal traditions 
involves a constant sacrifice of the in- 
dividual to the state. Education, in 
order to keep up the mighty delusion, 
encourages a species of ignorance. Peo- 
ple are not taught to be really virtuous, 
but to behave properly. We are wicked 
because we are frightfully self-con- 
scious. We never forgive others be- 
cause we know that we ourselves are in 
the wrong. We nurse a conscience be- 
cause we are afraid to tell the truth to 
others; we take refuge in pride because 
we are afraid to tell the truth to our- 
selves. How can one be serious with 
the world when the world itself is 
so ridiculous! The spirit of barter 
64 



TAOISM AND ZENNISM 

is everywhere. Honour and Chastity! 
Behold the complacent salesman retail- 
I ing the Good and True. One can even 
I buy a so-called Heligion, which is really 
j but common morality sanctified with 
j flowers and music. Rob the Church of 
her accessories and what remains be- 
hind? Yet the trusts thrive marvel- 
lously, for the prices are absurdly cheap, 
— a prayer for a ticket to heaven, a 
diploma for an honourable citizenship. 
Hide yourself under a bushel quickly, 
for if your real usefulness were known 
to the world you would soon be knocked 
down to the highest bidder by the public 
auctioneer. Why do men and women 
like to advertise themselves so much? 
Is it not but an instinct derived from 
the days of slavery? 

The virility of the idea lies not less in 
its power of breaking through con- 
55 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



temporary thought than in its capacity 
for dominating subsequent movements. 
Taoism was an active power during the 
Shin dynasty, that epoch of Chinese 
unification from which we derive the 
name China, It would be interesting 
had we time to note its influence on con- 
temporary thinkers, the mathematicians, 
writers on law and war, the mystics 
and alchemists and the later nature- 
poets of the Yangste-Kiang. We i 
should not even ignore those specu- 
lators on Reality who doubted whether 
a white horse was real because he was 
white, or because he was solid, nor the 
Conversationalists of the Six dynasties 
who, like the Zen philosophers, revelled 
in discussions concerning the Pure and 
the Abstract. Above all we should pay 
homage to Taoism for what it has done 
toward the formation of the Celestial 
56 



TAOISM AND ZENNISM 

character, giving to it a certain capacity 
for reserve and refinement as '' warm as 
jade." Chinese history is full of in- 
stances in which the votaries of Taoism, 
princes and hermits alike, followed 
with varied and interesting results the 
teachings of their creed. The tale will 
not be without its quota of instruction 
and amusement. It will be rich in 
anecdotes, allegories, and aphorisms. 
We would fain be on speaking terms 
with the delightful emperor who never 
died because he never lived. We may 
ride the wind with Liehtse and find it 
absolutely quiet because we ourselves 
are the wind, or dwell in mid-air with 
the Aged One of the Hoang-Ho, who 
lived betwixt Heaven and Earth be- 
cause he was subject to neither the one 
nor the other. Even in that grotesque 
apology for Taoism which we find in 
57 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



China at the present day, we can revel 
in a wealth of imagery impossible to 
find in any other cult. 
> But the chief contribution of Taoism 

to Asiatic life has been in the realm of 
\^ aesthetics. Chinese historians have al- 
ways spoken of Taoism as the '' art-o£^ 
I being in the world," for it deals with 
\ the present — ourselves. It is in us that 
God meets with Nature, and yesterday 
parts from to-morrow. The Present is 
the moving Infinity, the legitimate 
sphere of the Relative. Relativity seeks 
Adjustment; Adjustment is Art. The 
art of life lies in a constant readjust- 
ment to our surroundings. Taoism ac- 
cepts the mundane as it is and, unlike 
the Confucians and the Buddhists, 
tries to find beauty in our world of woe 
and worry. The Sung allegory of the 
Three Vinegar Tasters explains ad- 
68 



TAOISM AND ZENNISM 

mirably the trend of the three doctrines. 
Sakyamuni, Confucius, and Laotse 
once stood before a jar of vinegar — ^the 
emblem of life — and each dipped in his 
finger to taste the brew. The matter- 
of-fact Confucius found it sour, the 
Buddha called it bitter, and Laotse pro- 
nounced it sweet. 

The Taoists claimed that the comedy 
of life could be made more interesting 
if everyone would preserve the unities. 
To keep the proportion of things and 
give place to others without losing one's 
own position was the secret of success 
in the mundane drama. We must know 
the whole play in order to properly act 
our parts; the conception of totality 
must never be lost in that of the individ- 
ual. This Laotse illustrates by his 
favourite metaphor of the Vacuum. 
He claimed that only in vacuum lay 
69 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



the truly essential. The reality of a 
room, for instance, was to be found in 
the vacant space enclosed by the roof 
and walls, not in the roof and walls 
themselves. The usefulness of a water 
pitcher dwelt in the emptiness where 
water might be put, not in the form of 
the pitcher or the material of which it 
was made. Vacuum is all potent be- 
cause all containing. In vacuum alone 
motion becomes possible. One who 
could make of himself a vacuum into 
which others might freely enter would 
become master of all situations. The 
whole can always dominate the part. 

These Taoists' ideas have greatly in- 
fluenced all our theories of action, even 
to those of fencing and wrestling. Jiu- 
jitsu, the Japanese art of self-defence, 
owes its name to a passage in the Tao- 
teiking. In jiu-jitsu one seeks to draw 
60 



TAOISM AND ZENNISM 

out and exhaust the enemy's strength 
by non-resistance, vacuum, while con- 
serving one's own strength for victory 
in the final struggle. In art the im- 
portance of the same principle is illus- 
trated by the value of suggestion. In 
leaving something unsaid the beholder 
is given a chance to complete the idea 
and thus a great masterpiece irresisti- 
bly rivets your attention until you seem 
to become actually a part of it. A vac- 
uum is there for you to enter and fill 
up to the full measure of your aesthetic 
emotion. 

He who had made himself master of 
the art of living was the Ileal Man of 
the Taoist. At birth he enters the realm 
of dreams only to awaken to reality at 
death. He tempers his own brightness 
in order to merge himself into the ob- 
scurity of others. He is "reluctant, 
61 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



as one who crosses a stream in winter; 
hesitating as one who fears the neigh- 
bourhood; respectful, like a guest r 
trembling, like ice that is about to melt ; 
unassuming, like a piece of wood not 
yet carved; vacant, like a valley; form- 
less, like troubled waters." To him the 
three jewels of life were Pity, Econ- 
omy, and Modesty. 

If now we turn our attention to 
Zennism we shall find that it empha- 
sises the teachings of Taoism. Zen is 
a name derived from the Sanscrit word 
Dhyana, which signifies meditation. It 
claims that through consecrated medi-^ 
tation may be attained supreme self- 
realisation. Meditation is one of the 
six ways through which Buddhahood 
may be reached, and the Zen sectarians 
affirm that Sakyamuni laid special stress 
on this method in his later teachings, 
62 



TAOISM AND ZENNISM 

handing down the rules to his chief dis- 
ciple Kashiapa. According to their tra- 
dition Kashiapa, the first Zen patriarch, 
imparted the secret to Ananda, who in 
turn passed it on to successive patriarchs 
until it reached Bodhi-Dharma, the 
twenty-eighth. Bodhi-Dharma came 
to Northern China in the early half of 
the sixth century and was the first 
patriarch of Chinese Zen. There is 
much uncertainty about the history ofl 
these patriarchs and their doctrines. In 
its philosophical aspect early Zennism 
seems to have affinity on one hand to 
j the Indian Negativism of Nagarjuna 
and on the other to the Gnan phil- 
osophy formulated by Sancharacharya. 
The first teaching of Zen as we know it 
at the present day must be attributed 
to the sixth Chinese patriarch Yeno 
;(637-713), founder of Southern Zen, 
63 



THE BOOK OF TEA' 



so-called from the fact of its predomi- 
nance in Southern China. He is closely 
followed by the great Baso (died 788) 
who made of Zen a living influence in 
Celestial life. Hiakujo (719-814) the 
pupil of Baso, first instituted the Zen 
monastery and established a ritual and 
regulations for its government. In the 
discussions of the Zen school after the 
time of Baso we find the play of the 
Yangtse-Kiang mind causing an acces- 
sion of native modes of thought in con- 
trast to the former Indian idealism. 
Whatever sectarian pride may assert to 
the contrary one cannot help being im- 
pressed by the similarity of Southern 
Zen to the teachings of Laotse and the 
Taoist Conversationalists. In the Tao- 
teiking we already find allusions to the 
importance of self -concentration and 
the need of properly regulating the 
64 



T AOISM AND ZENNISM 

breath — essential points in the practice 
of Zen meditation. Some of the best 
commentaries on the Book of Laotse 
have been written by Zen scholars. 

Zennism, like Taoism, is the worship 
of Relativity. One master defines Zen 
as the art of feeling the polar star in 
the southern sky. Truth can be reached 
only through the comprehension of op- 
posites. Again, Zennism, like Taoism, 
is a strong advocate of individualism. 
Nothing is real except that which con- 
cerns the working of our own minds. 
Yeno, the sixth patriarch, once saw two 
monks watching the flag of a pagoda 
fluttering in the wind. One said " It 
is the wind that moves," the other said 
" It is the flag that moves " ; but Yeno 
explained to them that the real move- 
ment was neither of the wind nor the 
flag, but of something within their own 
65 



THE BOOK OF TEA 

minds. Hiakujo was walking in the 
forest with a disciple when a hare scur- 
ried off at their approach. " Why does 
the hare fly from you?'* asked Hia- 
kujo. " Because he is afraid of me," 
was the answer. " No/' said the master, 
" it is because you have a murderous 
instinct." This dialogue recalls that 
of Soshi (Chauntse), the Taoist. One 
day Soshi was walking on the bank of 
a river with a friend. " How delight- 
fully the fishes are enjoying themselves 
in the water!" exclaimed Soshi. His 
friend spake to him thus: "You are 
not a fish; how do you know that the 
fishes are enjoying themselves? " " You 
are not myself," returned Soshi; "how 
do you know that I do hot know that 
the fishes are enjoying themselves? " 

Zen was often opposed to the pre- 
cepts of orthodox Buddhism even as 
66 



TAOISM AND ZENNISM 

Taoism was opposed to Confucianism. 
To the transcendental insight of the 
ZeUy words were but an incumbrance to 
thought; the whole sway of Buddhist 
scriptures only conmientaries on per- 
sonal speculation. The followers of 
Zen aimed at direct communion with the • 
inner nature of things, regarding their 
outward accessories only as impedi- 
ments to a clear perception of Truth. n 
It was this love of the Abstract that led 
the Zen to pixfer, black and white ) ^ ^/^.^ 
sketches to the elaborately coloured ^' 
paintings of the classic Buddhist School^ 
Some of the Zen even became icono- 
clastic as a result of their endeavour to 
recognise the Buddha in themselves 
rather than through images and sym- 
bolism. We find Tankawosho break- 
ing up a wooden statue of Buddha 
Ion a wintry day to make a fire. 
I 67 



^/r-j 



^•(D 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



"What sacrilege!" said the horror- 
stricken bystander. *' I wish to get 
the Shali^ out of the ashes," calmly 
rejoined the Zen. " But you certainly 
will not get Shall from this image!" 
was the angry retort, to which Tanka 
replied, " If I do not, this is cer- 
tainly not a Buddha and I am com- 
mitting no sacrilege." Then he turned 
to warm himself over the kindling fire. 
A special contribution of Zen to 
Eastern thought was its recognition of 
the mundane as of equal importance 
with the spiritual. It held that in the 
great relation of things there was no 
distinction of small and great, an atom 
possessing equal possibilities with the 
universe. The seeker for perfection 
must discover in his own life the re- 

2 The precious jewels formed in the bodies of 
Buddhas after cremation. 

68 



TAOISM AND ZENNISM 

flection of the inner light. The organi- 
sation of the Zen monastery was very 
significant of this point of view. To 
every member, except the abbot, was 
assigned some special work in the care- 
taking of the monastery, and curiously 
enough, to the novices were committed 
the lighter duties, while to the most re- 
spected and advanced monks were given 
the more irksome and menial tasks. 
Such services formed a part of the Zen 
discipline and every least action must 
be done absolutely perfectly. Thus 
many a weighty discussion ensued while 
weeding the garden, paring a turnip, 
or serving tea. The whole ideal of Tea- 
ism is a result of this Zen conception 
of greatness in the smallest incidents of 
life. Taoism furnished the basis for 
aesthetic ideals, Zennism made them 
practical. 

^69 



iv; 

THE TEA-ROOM 



THE TEA-ROOM 

TO European architects brought 
up on the traditions of stone 
and brick construction, our Japanese 
method of building with wood and bam- 
boo seems scarcely worthy to be ranked 
as architecture. It is but quite recently 
that a competent student of Western 
architecture has recognised and paid 
tribute to the remarkable perfection of 
our great temples/ Such being the case 
as regards our classic architecture, we 
could hardly expect the outsider to ap- 
preciate the subtle beauty of the tea- 
room, its principles of construction and 

1 We refer to Ralph N. Cram's Impressions of 
Japanese Architecture and the Allied Arts. The 
Baker & Taylor Co., New York, 1905. 

73 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



decoration being entirely different from 
those of the West. 

V iThe tea-room (the Sukiya) does not 
pretend to be other than a mere cottage 
— a straw hut, as we call it. The orig- 
inal ideographs for Sukiya mean the 

*Abode of Fancy. Latterly the various 
tea-masters substituted various Chinese 
characters according to their conception 
of the tea-room, and the term Sukiya 
may signify the Abode of Vacancy or 

V the Abode of the Unsymmetrical. It 
is an Abode of Fancy inasmuch as it 
is an ephemeral structure built to house 

• a poetic impulse. It is an Abode of 
Vacancy inasmuch as it is devoid of 
xornamentation except for what may be 
placed in it to satisfy some aesthetic 
n^ed of the moment. It is an Abode of 
the Unsymmetrical inasmuch as it is 

^consecrated to the worship of the Xpir. 
74 



THE TEA-ROOM 



perfect, purposely leaving some thing 
unfinished for the play of the imagina- 
tion to complete. The ideals of Teaism * 
have since the sixteenth century influ- 
enced our architecture to such degree 
that the ordinary Japanese interior of 
the present day, on account of the ex- 
treme simplicity and chasteness of its 
scheme of decoration, appears to for- 
eigners almost barren. 

The first independent tea-room was 
the creation of Senno-Soyeki, com- 
monly known by his later name of Ri- /^ p 
kiu, the greatest of all tea-masters, 
who, in the sixteenth century, under 
the patronage of Taiko-Hideyoshi, in- 
stituted and brought to a high state of 
perfection the formalities of the Tea- 
ceremony. The proportions of the tea- 
room had been previously determined 
by Jowo — a famous tea-master of the 
75 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



fifteenth century. The early tea-room 
consisted merely of a portion of the 
ordinary drawing-room partitioned off 
by screens for the purpose of the tea- 
gathering. The portion partitioned 
off was called the Kakoi (enclosure), 
a name still appKed to those tea-rooms 
which are built into a house and are not 
independent constructions. The Su- 

,kiya consists of the tea-room proper, 
designed to accommodate not more than 
five persons, a number suggestive of 
the saying " more than the Graces and 
less than the Muses," an anteroom 
l(midsuya) where the tea utensils are 
washed and arranged before being 
brought in, a portico (machiai) in which 

..the guests wait until they receive the 

summons to enter the tea-room, and a 

,> garden path (the roji) which connects 

the machiai with the tea-room. The 

76 



THE TEA-ROOM 



tea-room is unimpressive in appearance. 
It is smaller than the smallest of Jap- 
anese houses, while the materials used 
in its construction are intended to give 
the suggestion of refined poverty. Yet 
we must remember that all this is the 
result of profound artistic forethought, 
and that the details have been worked 
out with care perhaps even greater than 
that expended on the building of the 
richest palaces and temples. A good 
tea-room is more costly than an ordi- 
nary mansion, for the selection of its 
materials, as well as its workmanship, 
requires immense care and precision. 
Indeed, the carpenters employed by the 
tea-masters form a distinct and highly 
honoured class among artisans, their 
work being no less delicate than that 
of the makers of lacquer cabinets. 
The tea-room is not only different 
77, 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



from any production of Western archi- 
tecture, but also contrasts strongly with 
the classical architecture of Japan it- 
self. Our ancient noble edifices, 
.whether secular or ecclesiastical, were 
not to be despised even as regards their 
mere size. The few that have been 
spared in the disastrous conflagrations 
of centuries are still capable of aweing 
us by the grandeur and richness of their 
decoration. Huge pillars of wood from 
two to three feet in diameter and from 
thirty to forty feet high, supported, by 
a complicated network of brackets, the 
enormous beams which groaned under 
the weight of the tile-covered slanting 
roofs. The material and mode of con- 
struction, though weak against fire, 
proved itself strong against earth- 
quakes, and was well suited to the cli- 
matic conditions of the country. In the 
78 



THE TEA-ROOM 



Golden Hall of Horiuji and the Pagoda 
of Yakushiji, we have noteworthy ex- 
amples of the durability of our wooden 
architecture. These buildings have 
practically stood intact for nearly 
twelve centuries. The interior of the 
old temples and palaces was profusely 
decorated. In the Ho5do temple at 
Uji, dating from the tenth century, we 
can still see the elaborate canopy and 
gilded baldachinos, many-coloured and 
inlaid with mirrors and mother-of-pearl, 
as well as remains of the paintings and 
sculpture which formerly covered the 
walls. Later, at Nikko and in the 
NijQ^jQastle^in JKyot^ we see structural 
beauty sacrificed to a wealth of orna- 
mentation which in colour and exquisite 
detail equals the utmost gorgeousness 
of Arabian or Moorish effort. 

The simplicity and purism of the tea- 
79 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



room resulted from emulation of the 
Zen monastery. A Zon monastery dif- 
fers from those of other Buddhist sects 
inasmuch as it is meant only to be a 
dwelling place for the monks. Its 
chapel is not a place of worship or pil- 
grimage, (but a college room where the 
students congregate for discussion and 
the practice of meditation. The room 
is bare except for a central alcove in 
which, behind the altar, is a statue of 
Bodhi Dhama, the founder of the sect, or 
of Sakyamuni attended by Ka|)hiapa 
and Ananda, the two earliest Zen patri- 
archs. On the altar, flowers and incense 
are offered up in memory of the great 
contributions which these sages made 
to Zen. We have already said that it 
was the ritual instituted by the Zen 
monks of successively drinking tea*out 
^ of a bowl before the image of Bodhi 

80 



4) 



THE TEA-ROOM 



Dhama, which laid the foundations of 
the tea-ceremony. We might add Here 
that the altar of the Zen chapel was the 
prototype of the Tokonojaia, — the place 
of honour in a Japanese room where 
paintings and flowers are placed for the 
edification of the guests. 

All our great tea-masters were stu- 
dents of Zen and attempted to introduce 
the spirit of Zennism into the actual- 
ities of life. Thus the room, like the 
other equipments of the tea-ceremony, 
reflects many of the Zen doctrines. The 
size of the orthodox tea-room, which is 
four mats and a half, or ten feet square, 
is determined by a passage in the Sutra 
of Vikramadytja. In that interesting 
work, Vikramadytia welcomes the Saint 
Manjushiri and eighty-four thousand 
disciples of Buddha in a room of this 
size, — an allegory based on the theorj^ 
81 



THE BOOK OF TBJi 



1 



of tKe non-existence of space to the 
truly enlightened. !Again the roii, 
the garden path which leads from the 
machiai to the tea-room, signified the 
first stage of meditation, — ^the passage 
into self -illumination. The ^oji was 
intended to break connection with the 
outside world, and to produce a fresh 
sensation conducive to the full enjoy- 
ment of aestheticism in the tea-room it- 
self. Dne who has trodden this garden 
path cannot fail to remember how his 
spirit, as he walked in the twilight of 
evergreens over the regular irregulari- 
ties of the stepping stones, beneath 
which lay dried pine needles, and passed 
beside the moss-covered granite lan- 
terns, became uplifted above ordinary 
thoughts. One may be in the midst of 
a city, and yet feel as if he were in the 
forest far away from the dust and din 
82 



THE TEA-ROOM 



of civilisation. Great was tHe ingenuity: 
displayed by the tea-masters in produc- 
ing these effects of serenity and purity. 
iThe nature of the sensations to be 
aroused in passing through the roji 
differed with different tea-masters. 
Some, like Rikiu, aimed at utter loneli- 
ness, and claimed the secret of mak- 
ing a roji was contained in the ancient 
ditty: 

"I look beyond; 
Flowers are not. 
Nor tinted leaves. 
On the sea beach 
A solitary cottage stands 
In the waning light 
Of an autumn eve." 

Others, like Kobori-Enshiu, sought 
for a different effect. Enshiu said the 
idea of the garden path was to be found 
in the following verses: 



THE BOOK OF TEA] 



'*A cluster of summer trees, 
A bit of the sea, 
A pale evening moon." 

It is not difficult to gather his meaning. 
H[e wished to create the attitude of a 
n^ly awakened soul still lingering 
amid shadowy dreams of the past, yet 
bathing in the sweet unconsciousness of 
a mellow spiritual light, and yearning 
for the freedom that lay in the expanse 
beyond. J 

Thus prepared tHe guest will silently 
approach the sanctuary, and, if a sa- 
murai, will leave his sword on the rack 
beneath the eaves, the tea-room being 
preeminently the house of peace. Then 
he will bend low and creep into the room 
through a smaU door not more than 
three f eet in height. This proceeding 
was incumbent on all guests, — ^high and 
low alike^ — and was intended to incul- 
84 



THE TEA-ROOM 



cate humility. The order of precedence 
having been mutually agreed upon 
while resting in the machiai, the guests 
one by one will enter noiselessly and 
take their seats, first making obeisance 
to the picture or flower arrangement on 
i«the tokonoma. The host will not enter * 
'™xhe room until all the guests have seated 
themselves and quiet reigns with noth- 
ing to break the silence save the note 
of the boiling water in the iron kettle. 
(The kettle sings well, for pieces of iron 
are so arranged in the bottom as to pro- 
duce a peculiar melody in which one 
may hear the echoes of a cataract muf- 
fled by clouds, of a distant sea break- 
ing among the rocks, a rainstorm sweep- 
IKng through a bamboo forest, or of the 
soughing of pines on some faraway hill. 
Even in the daytime the light in the 
room is subdued, for the low eaves of 
85 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



the slanting roof admit but few of the 
sun's rays. Everything is sober in tint 
from the ceiHng to the floor; the guests 
themselves have carefully chosen gar- 
ments of unobtrusive colours. The 
mellowness of age is over all, every- 
thing suggestive of recent acquirement 
being tabooed save only the one note 
of contrast furnished by the bamboo 
dipper and the linen napkin, both im- 
maculately white and new. However 
faded the tea-room and the tea-equip- 
age may seem, everything is absolutely 
clean. Not a particle of dust will be 
found in the darkest corner, for if any 
exists the host is not a tea-master. One 
of the first requisites of a tea-master 
is the knowledge of how to sweep, 
clean, and wash, for there is an art in 
cleaning and dusting. A piece of an- 
tique metal work must not be attacked 
86 



i 



THE TEA-ROOM 



with the unscrupulous zeal of the DutcK 
housewife. Dripping water from a 
flower vase need not be wiped away, for 
it may be suggestive of dew and 
coolness. 

In this connection there is a story of 
Rikiu which well illustrates the ideas of 
cleanliness entertained by the tea-mas- 
ters. Rikiu was watching his son Shoan 
as he swept and watered the garden 
path. " Not clean enough," said Rikiu, 
when Shoan had finished his task, and 
bade him try again. After a weary 
hour the son turned to Rikiu : " Father, 
there is nothing more to be done. The 
steps have been washed for the third 
time, the stone lanterns and the trees 
are well sprinkled with water, moss and 
lichens are shining with a fresh verdure ; 
not a twig, not a leaf have I left on the 
ground." " Young fool," chided the 
87 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



tea-master, " that is not the way a gar- 
den path should be swept/* Saying 
this, Rikiu stepped into the garden, 
shook a tree and scattered over the gar- 
den gold and crimson leaves, scraps of 
the brocade of autumn! What Rikiu 
demanded was not cleanliness alone, 
but the beautiful and the natural also. 
The name, Abode of Fancy, implies 
a structure created to iipueet some indi- 
vidual artisti c requirem ent. The tea- 
room is made for the tea-master, not 
the tea-master for the tea-room. It is 
not intended for posterity and is there- 
fore ephemeral. The idea that every- 
one should have a house of his own is j 
based on an ancient custom of the Jap- 
anese race, Shinto superstition ordain- 
ing that every dwelling should be evacu- 
ated on the death of its chief occupant. 
Perhaps there may have been some un- 
88 



THE TEA-ROOM 



realised sanitary reason for this practice. 
Another early custom was that a newly 
built house should be provided for each 
couple that married. It is on account 
of such customs that we find the Im- 
perial capitals so frequently removed 
from one site to another in ancient days. 
The rebuilding, every twenty years, of 
Ise Temple, the supreme shrine of the 
Sun-Goddess, is an example of one of 
these ancient rites which still obtain at 
the present day. The observance of 
these customs was only possible with 
some such form of construction as that 
furnished by our system of wooden 
architecture, easily pulled down, easily 
built up. A more lasting style, employ- 
ing brick and stone, would have ren- 
dered migrations impracticable, as in- 
deed they became when the more stable 
and massive wooden construction of 
89 



THE BOOK OF TEA! 



i 



China was adopted by us after the ISTara 
period. 

With the predominance of Zen in- 
dividualism in the fifteenth century, 
however, the old idea became imbued 
with a deeper significance as conceived 
in connection with the tea-room. Zenn- 
ism, with the Buddhist theory of evan- 
escence and its demands for the mastery 
of spirit over matter, recognised the 
house only as a temporary refuge for 
the body. The body itself was but as 
a hut in the wilderness, a flimsy shelter 
made by tying together the grasses that 
grew around, — when these ceased to be 
bound together they again became re- 
solved into the original waste. In the | 
tea-room fugitiveness is suggested in 
the thatched roof, frailty in the slender 
pillars, lightness in the bamboo support, 
apparent carelessness in the use of com- 
90 



THE TEA-ROOM 



monplace materials. The eternal is to 
be found only in the spirit which, em- 
bodied in these simple surroundings, 
beautifies them with the subtle light of! 
its refinement. 

That the tea-room should be built to 
suit some individual taste is an enforce- 
ment of the principle of vitality in art. 
Art, to be fully appreciated, must be 
true to contemporaneous life. It is not 
that we should ignore the claims of pos- 
terity, but that we should seek to enjoy 
the present more. It is not that we 
should disregard the creations of the 
past, but that we should try to assimi- 
late them into our consciousness. Sla- 
vish conformity to traditions and 
formulas fetters the expression of indi- 
viduality in architecture. We can but 
weep over those senseless imitations of 
European buildings which one beholds 
91 



THE BOOK OF TEA' 



in modern Japan. We marvel why, 
among the most progressive Western 
nations, architecture should be so de- 
void of originality, so replete with rep- 
etitions of obsolete styles. Perhaps we 
are now passing through an age of dem- 
ocratisation in art, while awaiting the 
rise of some princely master who shall 
establish a new dynasty. Would that 
we loved the ancients more and copied 
them less! It has been said that the 
p Greeks were great because they never 
^ drew from the antique. * ' 

The term. Abode of Vacancy, besides 
conveying the Taoist theory of the all- 
containing, involves the conception of a 
continued need of change in decorative 
motives. The tea-room is absolutely 
^ empty, except for what may be placed 
there temporarily to satisfy some aes- 
thetic mood. Some special art object is 
93 



THE TEA-ROOM 



brought in for the occasion, and every- ^ 
thing else is selected and arranged to 
enhance the beauty of the principal 
theme. One cannot listen to different 
pieces of music at the same time, a real 
comprehension of the beautiful being 
possible only through concentration 
upon some central motive. Thus it will 
be seen that the system of decoration 
in our tea-rooms is opposed to that 
which obtains in the West, where the 
interior of a house is often converted 
into a museum. To a Japanese, accus- 
tomed to simplicity of ornamentation 
and frequent change of decorative 
method, a Western interior perma- 
nently filled with a vast array of pic- 
tures, statuary, and bric-a-brac gives 
the impression of mere vulgar display 
of riches. It calls for a mighty wealth 
of appreciation to enjoy the constant 
93 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



sight of even a masterpiece, and limit- 
less indeed must be the capacity for ar- 
tistic feeling in those who can exist 
day after day in the midst of such con- 
fusion of colour and form as is to be 
often seen in the homes of Europe and 
America. 

The "Abode of the Unsymmetri- 
cal "' suggests another phase of our dec- 
orative scheme. The absence of sym- 
metry in Japanese art objects has been 
often commented on by Western critics. 
This, also, is a result of a working out 
through Zennism of Taoist ideals. Con- 
fucianism, with its deep-seated idea of 
dualism, and Northern Buddhism with 
its worship of a trinity, were in no way 
opposed to the expression of symmetry. 
As a matter of fact, if we study the 
ancient bronzes of China or the relig- 
ious arts of the Tang dynasty and the 
94 



THE TEA-ROOM 



Nara period, we shall recognise a con- 
stant striving after syiBmetry. The 
decoration of our classical interiors was 
decidedly regular in its arrangement. 
The Taoist and Zen conception of per- 
fection, however, was different. The 
dynamic nature of their philosophy laid 
more stress upon the process through 
which perfection was sought than upon 
perfection itself. True beauty could • 
be discovered only by one who mentally 
completed the incomplete. The virility 
^bf life and art lay in its possibilities for 
growth. In the tea-room it is left for 
leach guest in imagination to complete 
the total effect in relation to himself. 
Since Zennism has become the prevail- 
ing mode of thought, the art of the ex- 
treme Orient has purposely avoided the 
symmetrical as expressing not only 
completion, but repetition. Uniformity 
95 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



of design was considered as fatal to the 
(i y freshness of imagination. Thus, land- 
^ ^r scapes, birds, and flowers became the 
\ \ ^ favourite subjects for depiction rather 
^ \^ than the human figure, the latter being 
^^ present in the person of the beholder 
\ himself. We are often too much in 
evidence as it is, and in spite of our 
vanity even self-regard is apt to be- 
come monotonous. 

% In the tea-room the fear of repetition 
jis a constant presence. The various ob- 
jects for the decoration of a room 
should be so selected that no colour or 
design shall be repeated. If you have 
a living flower, a painting of flowers is 
not allowable. If you are using a round 
kettle, the water pitcher should be 
angular, A cup with a black glaze 
should not be associated with a tea- 
caddy of black lacquer. In placing a 
96 



I 



THE TEA-ROOM 



^^m^- 



vase on an incense burner on the toko- 
noma, care should be taken not to put 
it in the exact centre, lest it divide the 
space into equal halves. The pillar of 
the tokonoma should be of a different 
kind of wood from the other pillars, 
in order to break any suggestion of 
monotony in the room. 

Here again the Japanese method of 
interior decoration differs from that of 
the Occident, where we see objects ar- 
rayed symmetrically on mantelpieces 
and elsewhere. In Western houses we 
are often confronted with what appears 
to us useless reiteration. We find it 
trying to talk to a man while his full- 
length portrait stares at us from behind 
is back. We wonder which is real, he 
^f the picture or he who talks, and feel 
a curious conviction that one of them 
must be fraud. Many a time have we 
97 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



sat at a festive board contemplating, 
witH a secret shock to our digestion, 
the representation of abundance on the 
dining-room walls. Why these pic- 
tured victims of chase and sport, the 
elaborate carvings of fishes and fruit? 
Why the display of family plates, re- 
minding us of those who have dined and 
are dead? 

The simplicity of the tea-room and 
its freedom from vulgarity make it 
truly a sanctuary from the vexations of 
the outer world. There and there alone 
can one consecrate himself to undis- 
turbed adoration of the beautiful. In 
the sixteenth century the tea-room af- 
forded a welcome respite from labour 
to the fierce warriors and statesmen 
engaged in the unification and recon- 
struction of Japan. In the seventeenth 
century, after the strict formalism of 
98 



THE TEA-ROOM 



the Tokugawa rule had been developed, 
it offered the only opportunity possible 
for the free communiou of artistic 
spirits. Before a great work of art 
there was no distinction between dai- 
myo, samurai, and commoner. Nowa- 
days industrialism is making true re- 
finement more and more difficult all the 
world over. Do we not need the tea* 
room more than ever? 



\ 



V 



V 



99 



ART APPRECIATION 



ART APPRECIATION 

HAVE you heard the Taoist tale of 
the Taming of the Harp? 
Once in the hoary ages in the Ravine 
of Lunginen ^ stood a Kiri tree, a ver- 
itable king of the forest. It reared its 
head to talk to the stars; its roots 
struck deep into the earth, mingling 
their bronzed coils with those of the sil- 
ver dragon that slept beneath. And it 
came to pass that a mighty wizard made 
of this tree a wondrous harp, whose 
stubborn spirit should be tamed but by 
the greatest of musicians. For long 
the instrument was treasured by the 
Emperor of China, but all in vain were 

1 The Dragon Gorge of Honan. 
103 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



the efforts of those who in turn tried to 
draw melody from its strings. In re- 
sponse to their utmost strivings there 
came from the harp but harsh notes of 
disdain, ill-according with the songs 
they fain would sing. The harp refused 
to recognise a master. 

At last came Peiwoh, the prince of 
harpists. With tender hand he caressed 
the harp as one might seek to soothe an 
unruly horse, and softly touched the 
chords. He sang of nature and the 
seasons, of high mountains and flowing 
waters, and all the memories of the tree 
awoke! Once more the sweet breath of 
spring played amidst its branches. The 
young cataracts, as they danced down 
the ravine, laughed to the budding 
flowers. Anon were heard the dreamy 
voices of summer with its myriad in- 
sects, the gentle pattering of rain, the 
104 



ART APPRECIATION 

wail of the cuckoo. Hark ! a tiger roars, 
— the valley answers again. It is au- 
tumn; in the desert night, sharp like 
a sword gleams the moon upon the 
frosted grass. Now winter reigns, and 
through the snow-filled air swirl flocks 
of swans and rattling hailstones beat 
upon the boughs with fierce delight. 

Then Peiwoh changed the key and 
sang of love. The forest swayed like 
an ardent swain deep lost in thought. 
On high, like a haughty maiden, swept 
a cloud bright and fair; but passing, 
trailed long shadows on the ground, 
black like despair. Again the mode was 
changed; Peiwoh sang of war, of clash- 
ing steel and trampling steeds. And 
in the harp arose the tempest of Lung- 
men, the dragon rode the lightning, the 
thundering avalanche crashed through 
the hills. In ecstasy the Celestial mon- 
105 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



arch asked Peiwoh wherein lay the se- 
cret of his victory. " Sire," he replied, 
" others have failed because they sang 
but of themselves. I left the harp to 
choose its theme, and knew not truly 
whether the harp had been Peiwoh or 
Peiwoh were the harp.'' 

This story well illustrates the mystery 
of art appreciation. The masterpiece 
is a symphony played upon our finest 
feelings. True art is Peiwoh, and we 
the harp of Lungmen. At the magic 
touch of the beautiful the secret chords 
of our being are awakened, we vibrate 
and thrill in response to its call. Mind 
speaks to mind. We listen to the un- 
spoken, we gaze upon the unseen. The 
master calls forth notes we know not of. 
Memories long forgotten all come back 
to us with a new significance. Hopes 
stifled by fear, yearnings that we dare 
106 



ART APPRECIATION 

not recognise, stand forth in new glory. 
Our mind is the canvas on which the 
artists lay their colour; their pigments 
are our emotions; their chiaroscuro the 
light of joy, the shadow of sadness. The 
masterpiece is of ourselves, as we are of 
the masterpiece. 

The sympathetic communion of 
minds necessary for art appreciation 
must be based on mutual concession. 
The spectator must cultivate the proper 
attitude for receiving the message, as 
the artist must know how to impart it. 
The tea-master, Kobori-Enshiu, him- 
self a daimyo, has left to us these mem- 
orable words : " Approach a great paint- 
ing as thou wouldst approach a great 
prince." In order to understand a mas- 
terpiece, you must lay yourself low be- 
fore it and await with bated breath its 
least utterance. An eminent Sung 
107 



THE BOOK OF TEA! 



critic once made a charming confession. 
Said he: " In my young days I praised 
the master whose pictures I liked, but 
as my judgment matured I praised 
myself for liking what the masters had 
chosen to have me like." It is to be 
deplored that so few of us really take 
pains to study the moods of the mas- 
ters. In our stubborn ignorance we 
refuse to render them this simple cour- 
tesy, and thus often miss the rich repast 
of beauty spread before our very eyes. 
'A master has always something to 
oifer, while we go hungry solely be- 
cause of our own lack of appreciation. 
To the sympathetic a masterpiece 
becomes a living reality towards which 
we feel drawn in bonds of comradeship. 
The masters are immortal, for their 
loves and fears live in us over and over 
again. It is rather the soul than the 
108 



^ ART APPRECIATION 

hand, the man than the technique, which 
appeals to us, — the more human the 
call the deeper is our response. It is 
because of this secret understanding 
between the master and ourselves that 
in poetry or romance we suffer and re- 
joice with the hero and heroine. Chika - 
matgu, our Japanese Shakespeare, has 
laid down as one of the first principles 
of dramatic composition the importance 
of taking the audience into the confi- 
dence of the author. Several of his 
pupils submitted plays for his approval, 
but only one of the pieces appealed to 
him. It was a play somewhat resem- 
bling the Comedy of Errors, in which 
twin brethren suff^er through mistaken 
identity. " This,'' said Chikamatsu, 
"has the proper spirit of the drama, 
for it takes the audience into consider- 
ation. The public is permitted to know 
109 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



more than the actors. It knows where 
the mistake lies, and pities the poor fig- 
ures on the board who innocently rush 
to their fate." 

The great masters both of the East 
and the West never forgot the value of 
suggestion as a means for taking the 
spectator into their confidence. Who 
can contemplate a masterpiece without 
being awed by the immense vista of 
thought presented to our consideration? 
How familiar and sympathetic are 
they all; how cold in contrast the mod- 
ern comumonplaces! In the former we 
feel the warm outpouring of a man's 
heart; in the latter only a formal sa- 
lute. Engrossed in his technique, the 
modern rarely rises above himself. Like 
the musicians who vainly invoked the 
Lungmen harp, he sings only of him- 
self. His works may be nearer science, 
110 



ART APPRECIATION 

but are further from humanity. We 
have an old saying in Japan that a wo- 
man cannot love a man who is truly 
vain, for there is no crevice in his heart 
for love to enter and fill up. In art 
vanity is equally fatal to sympathetic 
Reeling, whether on the part of the 
artist or the public. 

Nothing is more hallowing than the 
union of kindred spirits in art. At the 
moment of meeting, the art lover tran- 
scends himself. At once he is and is 
not. He catches a glimpse of Infinity, 
but words cannot voice his delight, for 
the eye has no tongue. Freed from 
the fetters of matter, his spirit moves 
in the rhythm of things. It is thus that 
art becomes akin to religion and enno- 
bles mankind. It is this which makes a 
masterpiece something sacred. In the 
old days the veneration in which the 
111 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



Japanese held the work of the great 
artist was intense. The tea-masters 
guarded their treasures with religious 
secrecy, and it was often necessary to 
open a whole series of boxes, one within 
another, before reaching the shrine 
itself — the silken wrapping within 
whose soft folds lay the holy of holies. 
Rarely was the object exposed to view, 
and then only to the initiated. 

At the time when Teaism was in the 
ascendency the Taiko's generals would 
be better satisfied with the present of a 
rare work of art than a large grant of 
territory as a reward of victory. Many 
of our favourite dramas are based on 
the loss and recovery of a noted master- 
piece. For instance, in one play the 
palace of Lord Hosokawa, in which 
was preserved the celebrated painting 
of Dharuma by Sesson, suddenly takes 
112 



ART APPRECIATION 

fire through the negligence of the 
samurai in charge. Resolved at all 
hazards to rescue the precious painting, 
he rushes into the burning building and 
seizes the kakemono, only to find all 
means of exit cut off by the flames. 
Thinking only of the picture, he 
slashes open his body with his sword, 
wraps his torn sleeve about the Sesson 
and plunges it into the gaping wound. 
The fire is at last extinguished. Among 
the smoking embers is found a half- 
consumed corpse, within which reposes 
the treasure uninjured by the fire. Hor- 
rible as such tales are, they illustrate 
the great value that we set upon a mas- 
terpiece, as well as the devotion of a 
trusted samurai. 

We must remember, however, that 
art is of value only to the extent that it 
speaks to us. It might be a universal 
113 



THE BOOK OF TEA! 



language if we ourselves were universal 
in our sympathies. Our finite nature, | 
the power of tradition and convention- 
ality, as well as our hereditary instincts, 
restrict the scope of our capacity for 
artistic enjoyment. Our very individ- 
uality establishes in one sense a limit to 
our understanding; and our aesthetic 
personality seeks its own affinities in 
the creations of the past. It is true that 
with cultivation our sense of art appre- 
ciation broadens, and we become able 
to enjoy many hitherto unrecognised 
expressions of beauty. But, after all, 
we see only our own image in the uni- 
verse, — our particular idiosyncracies 
dictate the mode of our perceptions. 
The tea-masters collected only objects 
which fell stiictly within the measure 
of their individual appreciation. 

One is reminded in this connection 
114 



ART APPRECIATION 

of a story concerning Kobori-Enshiu. 
Enshiu was complimented by his disci- 
ples on the admirable taste he had dis- 
played in the choice of his collection. 
Said they, '' Each piece is such that no 
one could help admiring. It shows that 
you had better taste than had Rikiu, 
for his collection could only be appre- 
ciated by one beholder in a thousand." 
Sorrowfully Enshiu replied: "This 
only proves how commonplace I am. 
The great Rikiu dared to love only 
those objects which personally appealed 
to him, whereas I unconsciously cater 
to the taste of the majority. Verily, 
Rikiu was one in a thousand among tea- 
masters." 

It is much to be regretted that so 
much of the apparent enthusiasm for 
art at the present day has no founda- 
tion in real feeling. In this democratic 
115 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



age of ours men clamour for what is 
popularly considered the best, regard- 
less of their feelings. They want the 
costly, not the refined; the fashionable, 
not the beautiful. To the masses, con- 
templation of illustrated periodicals, the 
worthy product of their own industrial- 
ism, would give more digestible food 
for artistic enjoyment than the early 
Italians or the Ashikaga masters, whom 
they pretend to admire. The name of 
the artist is more important to them 
than the quality of the work. As a 
Chinese critic complained many centu- 
ries ago, " People criticise a picture by 
their ear." It is this lack of genuine 
appreciation that is responsible for the 
o^Ov ^^'^ps^^^^-cl^ssic horrors that to-day greet 
us wherever we turn. 

Another common mistake is that of 
confusing art with archaeology. The 
L 116 



I 



ART APPRECIATION 

veneration born of antiquity is one of 
the best traits in the human character, 
and fain would we have it cultivated 
to a greater extent. The old masters 
are rightly to be honoured for opening 
the path to future enlightenment. The 
mere fact that they have passed un- 
scathed through centuries of criticism 
and come down to us still covered with 
glory commands our respect. But we 
should be foolish indeed if we valued 
their achievement simply on the score 
of age. Yet we allow our historical 
sympathy to override our aesthetic dis- 
crimination. We offer flowers of ap- 
probation when the artist is safely laid 
in his grave. The nineteenth century, 
pregnant with the theory of evolution, 
has moreover created in us the habit of 
losing sight of the individual in the 
species. A collector is anxious to ac- 
117 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



quire specimens to illustrate a period 
or a school, and forgets that a single 
masterpiece can teach us more than any 
number of the mediocre products of a 
given period or school. We classify 
too much and enjoy too little. The 
sacrifice of the aesthetic to the so-called 
scientific method of exhibition has been 
the bane of many museums. 

The claims of contemporary art can- 
not be ignored in any vital scheme of 
life. The art of to-day is that which 
really belongs to us: it is our own re- 
flection. In condemning it we but 
condemn ourselves. We say that the 
present age possesses no art: — ^who is 
responsible for this? It is indeed a 
shame that despite all our rhapsodies 
about the ancients we pay so little at- 
tention to our own possibilities. Strug- 
gling artists, weary souls lingermg in 
118 



ART APPRECIATION 

the shadow of cold disdain! In our 
self-centred century, what inspiration 
do we offer them? The past may well 
look with pity at the poverty of our 
civilisation ; the future will laugh at the 
barrenness of our art. We are destroy- 
ing art in destroying the beautiful in 
life. Would that some great wizard 
might from the stem of society shape a 
mighty harp whose strings would re- 
sound to the touch of genius. 



119 



J 



VI 

FLOWERS] 



VI 

FLOWERS 

IN the trembling grey of a spring 
dawn, when the birds were whisper- 
ing in mysterious cadence among the 
trees, have you not felt that they were 
talking to their mates about the flow- 
ers? Surely with mankind the appre- 
ciation of flowers must have been 
coeval with the poetry of love. Where 
better than in a flower, sweet in its 
unconsciousness, fragrant because of 
its silence, can we image the unfolding 
of a virgin soul? The primeval man 
in off'ering the first garland to his 
maiden thereby transcended the Jbrute. v 
He became human in thus rising above 
the crude necessities of nature. He 
123 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



entered the realm of art when he 
perceived the subtle use of the use- 
less. 

In joy or sadness, flowers are our 
constant friends. We eat, drink, sing, 
dance, and flirt with them. We wed 
and christen with flowers. We dare not 
die without them. We have worshipped 
with the lily, we have meditated with the 
lotus, we have charged in battle array 
with the rose and the chrysanthemum. 
We have even attempted to speak in 
the language of flowers. How could 
we live without them? It frightens one 
to conceive of a world bereft of their 
presence. What solace do they not 
bring to the bedside of the sick, what a 
light of bliss to the darkness of weary 
spirits? Their serene tenderness re- 
stores to us our waning confidence in 
the universe even as the intent gaze of a 



FLOWERS 



beautiful child recalls our lost hopes. 
When we are laid low in the dust it is 
they who linger in sorrow over our 
graves. 

Sad as it is, we cannot conceal the 
fact that in spite of our companionship 
with flowers we have not risen very far 
above the brute. Scratch the sheepskin 
and the wolf _within us will soon show 
his teeth. It has been said that man at 
ten is an animal, at twenty a lunatic, at 
thirty a failure, at forty a fraud, and at 
fifty a criminal. Perhaps he becomes a 
criminal because he has never ceased to 
be an animal. Nothing is real to us but 
hunger, nothing sacred except our own 
desires. Shrine after shrine has crum- 
bled before our eyes ; but one altar for- 
ever is preserved, that whereon we burn 
incense to the supreme idol, — ourselves. 
Our god is great, and money is his 
125 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



Prophet ! We devastate nature in order 
to make sacrifice to him. We boast 
that we have conquered Matter and for- 
get that it is Matter that has enslaved 
us. What atrocities do we not perpe- 
trate in the name of culture and refine- 
ment! 

Tell me, gentle flowers, teardrops of 
the stars, standing in the garden, nod-, 
ding your heads to the bees as they sing 
of the dews and the sunbeams, are you 
aware of the fearful doom that awaits 
you? Dream on, sway and frolic while 
you may in the gentle breezes of sum- 
mer. To-morrow a ruthless hand will 
close around your throats. You will be 
wrenched, torn asunder limb by limb, 
and borne away from your quiet homes. 
The wretch, she may be passing fair. 
She may say how lovely you are while 
her fingers are still moist with your 
126 



FLOWERS 



blood. Tell me, will this be kindness? 
It may be your fate to be imprisoned 
in the hair of one whom you know to be 
heartless or to be thrust into the button- 
hole of one who would not dare to look 
you in the face were you a man. It 
may even be your lot to be confined in 
some narrow vessel with only stagnant 
water to quench the maddening thirst 
that warns of ebbing life. 

Flowers, if you were in the land of 
the Mikado, you might some time meet 
a dread personage armed with scissors 
and a tiny saw. He would call himself 
a Master of Flowers. He would claim 
the rights of a doctor and you would 
instinctively hate him, for you know a 
doctor always seeks to prolong the trou- 
bles of his victims. He would cut, bend, 
and twist you into those impossible po- 
sitions which he thinks it proper that 
127 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



you should assume. He would contort 
your muscles and dislocate your bones 
like any osteopath. He would burn 
you with red-hot coals to stop your 
bleeding, and thrust wires into you to 
assist your circulation. He would diet 
you with salt, vinegar, alum, and 
sometimes, vitriol. Boiling water would 
be poured on your feet when you 
seemed ready to faint. It would be his 
boast that he could keep life within you 
for two or more weeks longer than 
would have been possible without his 
treatment. Would you not have pre- 
ferred to have been killed at once when 
you were first captured? What were 
the crimes you must have committed 
during your past incarnation to warrant 
such punishment in this? 

The wanton waste of flowers among 
Western communities is even more ap- 
U8 



FLOWERS 



palling than the way they are treated 
by Eastern Flower Masters. The num- 
ber of flowers cut daily to adorn the 
ballrooms and banquet-tables of Europe 
and America, to be thrown away on 
the morrow, must be something enor- 
mous; if strung together they might 
garland a continent. Beside this utter 
carelessness of life, the guilt of the 
Flower-Master becomes insignificant. 
He, at least, respects the economy of 
nature, selects his victims with careful 
foresight, and after death does honour 
to their remains. In the West the dis- 
play of flowers seems to be a part of 
the pageantry of wealth, — the fancy of 
a moment. Whither do they all go, 
these flowers, when the revelry is over? 
Nothing is more pitiful than to see a 
faded flower remorselessly flung upon 
a dung heap. 

129 



THE BOOK OF TEA 






i Why were the flowers born so beauti- 
ful and yet so hapless? Insects can 
sting, and even the meekest of beasts 
will fight when brought to bay. The 
bird^ whose plumage is sought to deck- 
some bonnet can fly from its pursuer, 
the furred animal whose coat you covet 
for your own may hide at your ap- 
proach. Alas! The only flower known 
to have wings is the butterfly; all others 
stand helpless before the destroyer. If 
they shriek in their death agony their 
cry never reaches our hardened ears. 
We are ever brutal to those who love 
and serve us in silence, but the time may 
come when, for our cruelty, we shall 
be deserted by these best friends of 
ours. Have you not noticed that the 
wild flowers are becoming scarcer every 
year? It may be that their wise men 
have told them to depart till man be- 
130 



I 



FLOWERS 



comes more human. Perhaps they have 
migrated to heaven. 

Much may be said in favour of him 
who cultivates plants. The man of the 
pot is far more humane than he of the 
scissors. We watch with delight his 
concern about water and sunshine, his 
feuds with parasites, his horror of 
frosts, his anxiety when the buds come 
slowly, his rapture when the leaves at- 
tain their lustre. In the East the art of 
floriculture is a very ancient one, and 
the loves of a poet and his favourite 
plant have often been recorded in story 
and song. With the development of 
ceramics during the Tang and Sung 
dynasties we hear of wonderful recep- 
tacles made to hold plants, not pots, but 
jewelled palaces. A special attendant 
was detailed to wait upon each flower 
and to wash its leaves with soft brushes 
131 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



made of rabbit hair. It has been writ- 
ten * that the peony should be bathed 
by a handsome maiden in full costume, 
that a winter-plum should be watered 
by a pale, slender monk. In Japan,; 
one of the most .popular of the No-^ 
dances, the Hachinoki, composed dur-: 
ing the Ashikaga period, is based upon 
the story of an impoverished knight, 
who, on a freezing night, in lack of fuel 
for a fire, cuts his cherished plants in| 
order to entertain a wandering friar. 
The friar is in reality no other thani 
Hojo-Tokiyori, the Haroun-Al-Ras- • 
chid of our tales, and the sacrifice is not 
without its reward. This opera never 
fails to draw tears from a Tokio audi- 
ence even to-day. 

Great precautions were taken for the 
preservation of delicate blossoms. Em- 

1 " Pingtse," by Yuenchunlang. 
132 



FLOWERS 



peror Huensung, of the Tang dynasty, 
hung tiny golden bells on the branches 
in his garden to keep off the birds. He 
it was who went off in the springtime 
with his court musicians to gladden the 
flowers with soft music. A quaint tab- 
let, which tradition ascribes to Yoshit- 
sune, the hero of our Arthurian legends, 
is still extant in one of the Japanese 
monasteries.^ It is a notice put up for 
the protection of a certain wonderful 
plum-tree, and appeals to us witK the 
grim humour of a warlike age. After 
referring to the beauty of the blossoms, 
the inscription says : " Whoever cuts a 
single branch of this tree shall forfeit 
a finger therefor." Would that such 
laws could be enforced nowadays 
against those who wantonly destroy^ 
flowers and mutilate objects of art! 

2 Sumadera, near Kobe. 
; 133 



THE BOOK OF TEA! 



Yet even in the case of pot flowers 
we are inclined to suspect the selfishness 
of man. Why take the plants from 
their homes and ask them to bloom mid 
strange surroundings? Is it not like 
asking the birds to sing and mate 
cooped up in cages? Who knows but 
that the orchids feel stifled by the arti- 
ficial heat in your conservatories and 
hopelessly long for a glimpse of their 
own Southern skies? 
\ The ideal lover of flowers is he who 
visits them in their native haunts, like 
Taoyuenming,^ who sat before a broken 
bamboo fence in converse with the wild 
chrysanthemum, or Linwosing, losing 
himself amid mysterious fragrance as 
he wandered in the twilight among the 
plima-blossoms of the Western Lake. 
'Tis said that Chowmushih slept in a 

• All celebrated Chinese poets and philosophers. 
134 



I 



FLOWERS 



boat so that his dreams might mingle 
with those of the lotus. It was this 
same spirit which moved the Empress 
Komio, one of our most renowned Nara 
sovereigns, as she sang: "If I pluck 
thee, my hand will defile thee, O 
Flower! Standing in the meadows as 
thou art, I offer thee to the Buddhas 
of the past, of the present, of the 
future/' 

However, let us not be too sentimen- (^ ^ 
taL Let us be less luxurious but more 
magnificent. Said Laotse : " Heaven 
and earth are pitiless." Said Kobodai- 
shi: " Flow, flow, flow, flow, the current 
of life is ever onward. Die, die, die, 
die, death comes to all." Destruction 
faces us wherever we turn. Destruction 
below and above, destruction behind 
and before. Change is the only Eter- 
nal, — why not as welcome Death as 
135 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



Life? They are but counterparts one 
of the other, — ^the Night and Day of 
Brahma. Through the disintegration 
of the old, re-creation becomes possible. 
We have worshipped Death, the relent- 
less goddess of mercy, under many dif- 
ferent names. It was the shadow of the 
[All-devouring that the Gheburs greeted 
in the fire. It is the icy purism of the 
sword-soul before which Shinto-Japan 
prostrates herself even to-day. The 
mystic fire consumes our weakness, the 
sacred sword cleaves the bondage of 
desire. From our ashes springs the 
phoenix of celestial hope, out of the 
freedom comes a higher realisation of 
manhood. 

Why not destroy flowers if thereby 

we can evolve new forms ennobling the 

world idea? We only ask them to join 

in our sacrifice to the beautiful. We 

136 



I 



FLOWERS 

shall atone for the deed by consecrating 
ourselves to Purity and Simplicity. > 
Thus reasoned the tea-masters when 
they estabhshed the Cult of Flowers. 

Anyone acquainted with the ways 
of our tea- and flower-masters must 
have noticed the religious veneration 
with which they regard flowers. They 
do not cull at random, but carefully se- 
lect each branch or spray with an eye to 
the artistic composition they have in 
mind. They would be ashamed should 
they chance to cut more than were abso- 
lutely necessary. It may be remarked 
in this connection that they always asso- 
ciate the leaves, if there be any, with the 
flower, for their object is to present the 
whole beauty of plant life. In this 
respect, as in many others, their method 
diff'ers from that pursued in Western 
countries. Here we are apt to see only 
137 



THE BOOK OF TEA! 



the flower stems, heads, as it were, with- 
out body, stuck promiscuously; into a 
vase. 

When a tea-master has arranged a 
flower to his satisfaction he will place 
it on the tokonoma, the place of honour 
in a Japanese room. Nothing else will 
be placed near it which might interfere 
with its eff'ect, not even a painting, un- 
less there be some special aesthetic rea- 
son for the combination. It rests there 
like an enthroned prince, and the guests 
or disciples on entering the room will 
salute it with a profound bow before 
making their addresses to the host. 
Drawings from masterpieces are made 
and published for the edification of 
amateurs. The amount of literature on 
the subject is quite voluminous. When 
the flower fades, the master tenderly 
consigns it to the river or carefully bur- 
138 



FLOWERS 



ies it in the ground. Monuments even 
*re sometimes erected to their memory. 
^The birth of the Art of Flower Ar- 
rangement seems to be simultaneous 
with that of Teaism in the fifteenth ; 
century. ^ Our legends ascribe the first | ^! 
flower arrangement to those early \ 
Buddliist saints who gathered the flow- 
ers strewn by the storm and, in their 
infinite solicitude for all living things, j 
placed them in vessels of water. It is 
said that Spami, the great painter and 
connoisseur of the court of Ashikaga- 
Yoshimasa, was one of the earliest 
adepts at it. Jukp^ the tea-master, was 
one of his pupils, as was also Senno, 
the founder of the house of Ikenobo, a 
family as illustrious in the annals of 
flowers as was that of the Kanos in 
painting. With the perfecting of the 
tea-ritual under Rikiu, in the latter 
139 ~^ 



THE BOOK OF TEA! 



part of the sixteenth century, flower 
arrangement also attains its full growth. 
Rikiu and his successors, the celebrated 
Ota-wuraka, Furuka-Oribe, Koyetsu, 
Kobori-Enshiu, Katagiri-Sekishiu, vied 
with each other in forming new combi- 
nations. We must remember, however, 
that the flower worship of the tea-mas- 
ters formed only a part of their aesthetic 
ritual, and was not a distinct religion 
by itself. A flower arrangement, like 
the other works of art in the tea-room, 
was subordinated to the total scheme of 
decoration. Thus Sekishiu ordained 
that white plum blossoms should not be 
made use of when snow lay in the gar- 
den. " Noisy " flowers were relentlessly 
banished from the tea-room. A flower 
arrangement by a tea-master loses its 
significance if removed from the place 
for which it was originally intended, 
140 



FLOWERS 



for its lines and proportions have been 
specially worked out with a view to its 
surroundings. 

The adoration of the flower for its 
own sake begins with the rise of " Flow- 
er-Masters," toward the middle of the 
seventeenth century. It now becomes 
independent of the tea-room and knows 
no law save that that the vase imposes 
on it. New conceptions and methods of 
execution now become possible, and 
many were the principles and schools re- 
sulting therefrom. A writer in the mid- 
dle of the last century said he could 
count over ong hundred diif erent schools 
of flower arrangement. Broadly speak- 
ing, these divide themselves into two 
main branches, the F ormalistic and the 
Naturalesque. The Formahstic schools, 
led by the Ikenobos, aimed at a classic 
idealism corresponding to that of the 
141 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



Kano-academicians. We possess rec- 
ords of arrangements by the early mas- 
ters of this school which almost repro- 
duce the flower paintings of Sansetsu 
and Tsunenobu. The Naturalesque 
school, on the other hand, as its name 
implies, accepted nature as its model, 
only imposing such modificatioiis,...fiL 
f<^m as conduced to the expressioix of 
artistic unity. Thus we recognise in its 
works the same impulses which formed 
the Ukiyoe and Shijo schools of 
painting. 

It would be interesting, had we time, 
to enter more fully than is now possi- 
ble into the laws of composition and 
detail formulated by the various flower- 
masters of this period, showing, as they 
would, the fundamental theories which 
governed Tokugawa decoration. We 
find them referring to the Leading 
142 



FLOWERS 



Principle (Heaven), the Subordinate 
Principle (Earth), the Reconciling 
Principle (Man), and any flower ar- 
rangement which did not embody these 
.^^principles was considered barren and 
''dead. They also dwelt much on the 
importance of treating a flower in its 
three difl*erent aspects, the Formal, the 
Semi-Formal, and the Informal. The 
first might be said to represent flowers 
in the stately costume of the ballroom, 
the second in the easy elegance of after- 
noon dress, the third in the charming 
deshabille of the boudoir. 

Our personal sympathies are with the 
flower-arrangements of the tea-master 
rather than with those of the flower- 
master. The former is art in its proper 
setting and appeals to us on account of 
its true intimacy with life. We should 
like to call this school the Natural in 
143 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



contradistinction to the Naturalesque 
and Formalistic schools. The tea-mas- 
ter deems his duty ended with the selec- 
tion of the flowers, and leaves them to 
tell their own story. Entering a tea- 
room in late winter, you may see a slen- 
der spray of wild cherries in combina- 
tion with a budding camellia; it is an 
echo of departing winter coupled with 
the prophecy of spring. Again, if you 
go into a noon-tea on some irritatingly 
hot summer day, you may discover in 
the darkened coolness of the tokonoma 
a single lily in a hanging vase; dripping 
with dew, it seems to smile at the fool- 
ishness of life. 

A solo of flowers is interesting, but 
in a concerto with painting and sculp- 
ture the combination becomes entran- 
cing. Sekishiu once placed some water- 
plants in a flat receptacle to suggest the 
U4i 



FLOWERS 



vegetation of lakes and marshes, and on 
the wall above he hung a painting by 
Soami of wild ducks flying in the air. 
Shoha, another tea-master, combined a 
poem on the Beauty of Solitude by 
the Sea with a bronze incense burner 
in the form of a fisherman's hut and 
some wild flowers of the beach. One of 
the guests has recorded that he felt in 
the whole composition the breath of 
waning autumn. 

Flower stories are endless. We shall 
recount but one more. In the sixteenth 
century the morning-glory was as yet 
a rare plant with us. Rikiu had an 
entire garden planted with it, which 
he cultivated with assiduous care. The 
fame of his convolvuli reached the ear 
of the Taiko, and he expressed a desire 
to see them, in consequence of which 
Rikiu invited him to a morning tea at 
145 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



his house. On the appointed day Taiko 
walked through the garden, but no- 
where could he see any vestige of the 
convolvulus. The ground had been 
leveled and strewn with fine pebbles and 
sand. With sullen anger the despot en- 
tered the tea-room, but a sight waited 
him there which completely restored his 
humour. On the tokonoma, in a rare 
bronze of Sung workmanship, lay a 
single morning-glory — ^the queen of the 
whole garden! 

In such instances we see the full sig- 
nificance of the Flower Sacrifice. Per- 
haps the flowers appreciate the full sig- 
nificance of it. They are not cowards, 
like men. Some flowers glory in death 
— certainly the Japanese cherry blos - 
samajlo, as the:y^.frjeel y surrend er them- 
sejves to the winds. Anyone who has 
stood before the fragrant avalanche at 
146 



I 



FLOWERS 



Yoshino or Arashiyama must have rea- 
lised this. For a moment they hover 
like bejewelled clouds and dance above 
the crystal streams; then, as they sail 
away on the laughing waters, they seem 
to say: '' Farewell, O Spring! We are 
on to Eternity." 



14T 






VII 
TEA MASTERS 



TEA-MASTERS 

IN religion the Future is behind us. 
In art the Present is the eternal. 
The tea-masters held that real apprecia- 
tion of art is only possible to those wHo 
make of it a living influence. Thus 
they sought to regulate their daily life 
by the high standard of refinement 
which obtained in the tea-room. In all 
circumstances serenity of mind should 
be maintained, and conversation should 
be so conducted as never to mar the 
harmony of the surroundings. The 
cut and colour of the dress, the poise of 
the body, and the manner of walking 
could all be made expressions of artistic 
personality. These were matters not 
151 



/!> 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



to be lightly ignored, for until one has 
niade himself ^ right 

to^approach beauty. Thus the tea-mas- 
ter strove to be something more than 
the artist, — art itself. It was the Zen 
of aestheticism. Perfection is every- 
where if we only choose to recognise it. 
Rikiu loved to quote an old poem which 
says : " To those who long only for 
flowers, fain would I show the full- 
blown spring which abides in the toiling 
buds of snow-covered hills." 

Manifold indeed have been the con- 
tributions of the tea-masters to art. 
' They completely revolutionised the 
X^lassical architecture and interior deco- 
rations, and established the new style 
which we have described in the chapter 
of the tea-room, a style to whose influ- 
ence even the palaces and monasteries 
built after the sixteenth century have 
162 



TEA-MASTERS 



all been subject. The many-sided 
Kobori-Enshiu has left notable exam- 
ples of his genius in the Imperial villa 
of Katsura, the castles of Najoya and 
Nijo, and the monastery of Kohoan. 
All the celebrated gardens of Japan r 
were laid out by the tea-masters. Our t 
pottery would probably never have at- i 
tained its high quality of excellence if j 
the tea-masters had not lent to it their \ 
inspiration, the manufacture of the 
utensils used in the tea ceremony calling 
forth the utmost expenditure of inge- 
nuity on the part of our ceramists. The 
Seven Kilns of Enshiu are well known 
to all students of Japanese pottery. 
Many of our textile fabrics bear the 
names of tea-masters who conceived 
their colour or design. It is impossible, 
indeed, to find any department of art 
in which the tea-masters have not left 
153 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



marks of their genius. In painting and 
lacquer it seems almost superfluous to 
mention the immense service they have 
rendered. One of the greatest schools 
of painting owes its origin to the tea- 
master HonnaiiiiJKoyetsu, famed also 
as a lacquer artist and potter. Beside 
his works, the splendid creation of his 
grandson, Koho, and of his grand- 
nephews, Korin and Kenzan, almost 
fall into the shade. The whole Korin 
scho ol, as Jju s. gener ally de signated, i s 
an expressions^ In the broad 

lines of this school we seem to find the 
vitality of nature herself. 

Great as has been the influence of thej 
tea-masters in the field of art, it is as 
nothing compared to that which they 
have exerted on the conduct of life. 
Not only in the usages of polite society, 
but also in the arrangement of all our 
154 



TEA-MASTERS 



domestic details, do we feel the presence 
of the tea-masters. Many of our deli- 
cate dishes, as well as our way of serv- 
ing food, are their inventions. They 
have taught us to dress only in gar- 4 
ments of sober colours. They have in- 
structed us in the proper spirit in which < 
to approach jBlowers. They have given 
emphasis to our natural love of sim- 
plicity, and shown us the beauty of hu- 
mility. In fact, through their teachings 
tea has entered the life of the people. 

Those of us who know not the secret 
of properly regulating our own exist- 
ence on this tumultuous sea of foolish 
troubles which we call life are con- 
stantly in a state of misery while vainly 
trying to appear happy and contented. 
We stagger in the attempt to keep our 
moral equilibrium, and see forerunners 
of the tempest in every cloud that floats 
155 



THE BOOK OF TEA 

on the horizon. Yet there is joy and 
beauty in the roll of the billows as they 
sweep outward toward eternity. Why 
not enter into their spirit, or, like 
Liehtse, ride upon the hurricane itself? 

He only who has lived with the beau- 
tiful can die beautifully. The last 
moments of the great tea-masters were 
as full of exquisite refinement as had 
been their lives. Seeking always to be 
in harmony with the great rhythm of 
the universe, they were ever prepared to 
enter the unknown. The "Last Tea 
of Rikiu " will stand forth forever as 
the acme of tragic grandeur. 

Long had been the friendship be- 
tween Rikiu and the Taiko-Hideyoshi, 
and high the estimation in which the 
great warrior held the tea-master. But 
the friendship of a despot is ever a dan- 
gerous honour. It was an age rife 
156 



TEA-MASTERS 



with treachery, and men trusted not 
even their nearest kin. Rikiu was no 
servile courtier, and had often dared 
to differ in argument with his fierce 
patron. Taking advantage of the cold- 
ness which had for some time existed be- 
tween the Taiko and Rikiu, the enemies 
of the latter accused him of being im- 
plicated in a conspiracy to poison the 
despot. It was whispered to Hidey- 
oshi that the fatal potion was to be ad- 
ministered to him with a cup of the 
green beverage prepared by the tea- 
master. With Hideyoshi suspicion was 
sufficient ground for instant execution, 
and there was no appeal from the will 
of the angry ruler. One privilege alone 
was granted to the condemned — ^the 
honour of dying by his own hand. 

On the day destined for his self-im- 
molation, Rikiu invited his chief dis- 
157 



THE BOOK OF TEA' 



ciples to a last tea-ceremony. Mourn- 
fully at the appointed time the guests 
met at the portico. As they look into 
the garden path the trees seem to shud- 
der, and in the rustling of their leaves 
are heard the whispers of homeless 
ghosts. Like solemn sentinels before 
the gates of Hades stand the grey stone 
lanterns. A wave of rare incense is 
wafted from the tea-room; it is the sum- 
mons which bids the guests to enter. 
One by one they advance and take their 
places. In the tokonoma hangs a kake- 
mono, — a wonderful writing by an an- 
cient monk dealing with the evanescence 
of all earthly things. The singing ket- 
tle, as it boils over the brazier, sounds 
like some cicada pouring forth his woes 
to departing summer. Soon the host 
enters the room. Each in turn is served 
with tea, and each in turn silently drains 
158 



TEA-MASTERS 



his cup, the host last of all. Accord- 
ing to established etiquette, the chief 
guest now asks permission to examine 
the tea-equipage. Rikiu places the 
various articles before them, with the 
kakemono. After all have expressed 
admiration of their beauty, Rikiu pre- 
sents one of them to each of the assem- 
bled company as a souvenir. The bowl 
alone he keeps. " Never again shall 
this cup, polluted by the lips of mis- 
fortune, be used by man." He speaks, 
and breaks the vessel into fragments. 

The ceremony is over; the guests with 
difficulty restraining their tears, take 
their last farewell and leave the room. 
One only, the nearest and dearest, is 
requested to remain and witness the end. 
Rikiu then removes his tea-gown and 
carefully folds it upon the mat, thereby 
disclosing the immaculate white death^ 
159 



THE BOOK OF TEA 



robe which it had hitherto concealed. 
Tenderly he gazes on the shining blade 
of the fatal dagger, and in exquisite 
verse thus addresses it: 

" Welcome to thee, 
O sword of eternity 1 
Through Buddha 
And through Dharuma alike 
Thou hast cleft thy way." 

With a smile upon his face Rikiu 
passed forth into the unknown. 



160 



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