|Porcelain teapot - Yongzheng reign (1723-1735)|
|Cup and plate from the same tea set|
So, a travel to almost any city in America or in Europe provides an opportunity to visit a museum that exhibits antique ceramics from China. The Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State is no exception. In this article, I would like to share some of exquisite pieces I have seen there this spring, when I traveled there during the Tea Institute's Puerh exhibition.
This gilt and enameled tea set featuring a peacock shows that Chinese merchants had a good understanding of the tastes of European nobility and knew what would sell well! The design of the cup and saucer was so fitting that it has hardly changed since! They represent classic European elegance and wealth. However, the lines of the teapot and cup are quite simple and the white porcelain isn't perfect (see the black dots inside the cup).
|Sung dynasty bowls|
Can you feel the power, the stability, the harmony glowing from these bowls? Why is something that looks so simple, almost common, so special? Nowadays, tea drinkers mostly use tea bowls to dispose the waste water. But during the Sung dynasty, the bowl was both the ware where tea powder turned into a tea brew and from which they drank the tea (a teapot and cup in one!)
Sung bowls have also become standards for today's rice bowls. For tea, they are where function and beauty intersect. Perfect from both points of view. It's an ideal still worth pursuing today: an inspiration to raise our game and expect more elegance from our teaware.
without any knowledge of Chinese culture!
|Qing dynasty mourning figure|