teahouse 2011


The teahouse was developed in late sixteenth-century Japan by Sen-no-Rikyu, a Zen Buddhist monk who was an advisor to the Shogun Hideyoshi.  A small building with a low doorway, modeled on a peasant’s hut, the teahouse nevertheless commanded great respect.  Powerful Samurai willingly set aside their sword and trappings of power; to discuss art and poetry while sipping strong green tea from crudely finished rice bowls.  Elaborate social rituals evolved, emphasizing the ancient Japanese art form of wabi-sabi, which honors all things old, weathered, and worn.  By perceiving the beauty of impermanence and imperfection, wabi-sabi discovers grace in nature and in simple utilitarian artifacts.

Shinto shrines are built to protect an object inhabited by a spirit.  The shrine at Ise Naiku was founded in the late 3rd century AD, dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu O-mi-kami.  The three sacred treasures at Ise are a jewel symbolizing knowledge, a sword symbolizing authority, and a mirror whose purity of reflection symbolizes justice.  The Emperor is custodian of the sacred mirror of Ise.

Every twenty years, since the 7th century, Shinto priests perform a nighttime ritual during which the treasures are moved.  The older building is then dismantled, conserving the beams, now considered sacred, for use in other Shinto shrines.

About michaellangford2012

Timber framer, boatbuilder, dreamer, writer, musician; collector of books, tools, aphorisms. "There is nothing, absolutely nothing…half so much worth doing…as simply messing about in boats."
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