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China & Japan
Part 1
Chinese Pottery
• Chinese ceramics dates back as early as to the Paleolithic Era
• Pottery has been found in southern China that dates back 18,000 years ago
• China’s raw material resources provide it with the materials to
produce their own clay
• White clay, otherwise known as Porcelain, is the most pure clay
• As clay gets darker and more red, it is considered to have more impurities
in it
• The Chinese created a wide variety of ceramic wares
• Tiles
• Bricks
• Hand-built pottery
• Wheel-thrown pottery
Chinese Porcelain
• Porcelain is where we get the term
“Fine China” from
• Porcelain is so pure that it is
translucent when thrown thin on
the pottery wheel
• Porcelain is made from the
following natural materials:
• Kaolin
• Feldspar
• Quartz
• Petunse
• Dynasty: the succession of rulers
from the same family
• Han Dynasty, 202 B.C.-220 A.D.
• Produced first true Porcelain
• Sui & Tang Dynasties, 581-907
• Low fire and high fire Porcelains
• Created a new lead-glaze
• Beginnings of Imperial Porcelain
• Song & Juan Dynasties, 960-1368
• Main production time for Imperial
• Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644
• New technologies allowed for more
advanced ceramics techniques
Imperial Porcelain
• Imperial Porcelain was believed to have been started during the
Tang Dynasty
• Only the very wealthy could afford to buy these wares, such as the Imperial
Court members, thus the name
• Cobalt Oxide was mixed with water and painted onto the green
ware pot as an under glaze.
• Artists would apply multiple layers to achieve a richer blue tone
• Imperial Porcelain was exported to Japan
• Tea masters would use it for their tea ceremonies
Porcelain Plates
• Radial Symmetry
• When a pattern or image repeats and
rotates itself around a central axis
• Chinese potters usually decorated
their wares using radial symmetry
• Most often a singular image was
painted in the center of a plate or
bowl and a radial symmetrical
border was added to the edge
Part 2
History of the Tea Ceremony
• Green tea originated in China
• Green tea plants were brought to Japan from China during the
beginning of the Tang Dynasty
• Relations between China and Japan at this time were excellent
• Chinese Buddhist priest wrote a book on the proper method of
preparing tea called “Cha Ching”
• Correct temperature of hot water
• Use of tea vessels
• Toward the end of the Tang Dynasty, their relationship deteriorated
• Japan had to cultivate their own traditions for tea now
History of the Tea Ceremony cont.
• During the Nara and Heian periods in
Japan, tea was a rare commodity
• Rules were created for the consumption
of tea
• In 1187 Myoan Eisai, a Japanese
priest, traveled to China to study
philosophy and religion
• He became the founder of Zen
• He was the first one to cultivate tea for
religious purposes
• Eisai was the first to suggest and
teach the grinding of tea leaves
before adding hot water.
• A Sung emperor named Hui Tsung,
referred to a bamboo whisk used to
whisk the tea after hot water was
poured over it
• Eisai suggested that the drinking
of tea had certain health benefits
and cures
• loss of appetite
• Paralysis
• Beriberi
• boils
• sickness from tainted water.
Not just for drinking!
• There are many different types of
tea ceremonies
• Seasonal
• Time of Day
• It is considered a fine art to master
tea serving for a ceremony
• Takes up to 10 years to master!
• Table must be set a certain way
• A certain meal must be cooked
• Certain flowers must be arranged in a
certain way
• Must dress in a kimono
• Tea ceremonies show rank in
• Higher rank = better “fine China”!
Religious Ceremony
• Many use the tea ceremony as a
spiritual experience
• Zen Buddhism is a huge influence
on the spirituality of the tea
• Harmony between nature and self
• Being calm and centered
• Tea ceremonies will often happen in
special gardens
Part 3
The Four Gentlemen
• The Four Gentlemen are the four plants that are needed to be mastered in order
to become a master Sumi-e painter.
• To master each plant takes years of study under excellent tutelage.
• They are called the Four Gentlemen because of their style and grace.
• Each plant has certain brush strokes needed to complete it in the Sumi-e style.
• As you complete each plant you build on the brush strokes mastered, and learn new techniques for the
next, more complicated plant.
• Japanese style of painting creates asymmetrical balance, thus creating empty
space, and simplicity.
• The Four Gentlemen are bamboo, the wild orchid, the chrysanthemum, and the
plum blossom branch.
The First Gentleman: Bamboo
• The Father of brush painting,
representing simplicity of life and
humble spirit.
• Bamboo represents Summer and is
the most painted subject in East
Asia. It represents strength in the
face of adversity, and what the
Japanese believe to be the virtues
of the male - perfect balance,
upright integrity, and tremendous
• Bamboo is the “perfect gentleman”
because at its center it is hollow,
which suggests modesty, and it is
always of service and used on a
daily basis.
The Second Gentleman: Wild Orchid
• The Mother of brush painting,
representing grace, beauty, and a
happy spirit.
• The wild orchid represents Spring
and what the Japanese believe to
be feminine virtues - beauty and
grace, yet fragile and gentle.
• The orchid invites you to celebrate
life because it symbolizes reviving
earth’s energy from the winter.
The Third Gentleman: Chrysanthemum
• The chrysanthemum is the
imperial symbol of Japan’s royal
• The chrysanthemum represents
Autumn because it is sturdy and it
defies the brutality of the frost.
• It associates fragrant plants with
being strong and unwavering with
the change of the season.
The Last Gentleman: Plum Blossom
• The plum blossom is the symbol of
hope and endurance.
• It represents winter because it
perseveres with life and beauty
within it.
• The plum blossoms are the first to
bloom, signaling the end of
• The beauty of the plum blossom
lies in the contrast of the gnarled,
rough trunk and the soft, tender