Friday, August 31, 2012
Reflecting on ancient China with a Cha Xi
great view on the sea. But it also had a modern black & white, simple zen design. I thought the hallway in front of our room would be a great place for a morning red tea Cha Xi. The flowery Cha Bu (fabric) and the tea add color and life to this cool space.
A Cha Xi is a mandala. It represents a united world, but it's made up of diverse elements that interact to fit harmoniously with each other. In this Cha Xi, for instance, the black Jianyang bowl and the white tea cups miror their surroundings. The white porcelain gaiwan doesn't just match the cups, but it is a fitting teaware to brew red tea without loosing any of its flavors. The ancient Anping jar protects and enhances the dry leaves...
In many ways, a Cha Xi is like a symbol of ancient, classic China and how it prospered.
In the West, the Christian faith has been central to its history. In China, though, many different concepts have appeared and coexisted:
- rites or ceremonies based on the seasons, the stars. They should ensure the harmony between Heaven and Earth.
- Confucius' respect for the classics and the elders,
- Taoism, with its action through non-action,
- Chan (zen), the Chinese version of Buddhism.
This search for balance and harmony is also found in the importance of Feng Shui in Chinese architecture. There's also calligraphy, the art of writing (traditional) Chinese characters in an harmonious, lively way. Chinese medicine, the Yin and Yang or the 5 elements... all center on harmony.
Confident in the strong foundations of their Chinese culture, this elite was open to new ideas and techniques from the outside. Like a Cha Xi, they mixed the old and the new, the Chinese and the foreign. But they did this always considering balance and efficiency.
In a Cha Xi, we select not just the best tea and tea ware. We consider which tea would be the best fit for the particular moment. And then, which combination of water/kettle/teapot/teacup would bring out the qualities of these leaves in an harmonious way. And only then do we think about the aesthetic details that will carry a symbolic message. Art always had a (political) purpose for the Chinese emperor. The art of the Cha Xi aims at uniting men and women around the many joys of a cup of tea. And bring harmony to the world!