Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Red Cliff III

Here are the movie clips from Red Cliff which inspired me for this series:

And the real relics from the Han dynasty:

A Set of 4 lacquer ears cups, which the foundation could be silk or cloth. Even over nearly 2000 years old. The black lacquer color and it's cup shape still holds the form, which is quite amazing.

Oval ear-shaped cups had been a class drinking vessel before the Han dynasty (25–220 A.D.). Most of the tea cups in this shape were made out of lacquer ware, since tea are made and consume at a temp. closer to modern days Japanese green, or Korean Jak Sul Cha. The ways to use these wares are very formal, both hand should be holding each side of the ear, tilting forward while you are drinking to block the view of your mouth. These 2000 years old cups are from the actual period, but made out of clay, with glazed surface to imitate jade.

So, the answer to the quiz is a Song dynasty (960-1127) imitation of a Han style cups, made out of bronze. With a warming brazier as an unit/set. Dave got the closest functional answer and Trent got the closest time period. Kindly pm/email your address to me gentlemen. And thank you all for chipping in : )

The teas served in Song were made differently than the Hans. New style of tea emerged. Brewing temp. increased so is the serving temp. Most of the period, even Mid-Qings (1644-1911) serving vessel comes in sets. Like wine cup with stand, serving plate with brazier or charcoal stove warmer with stand etc... One thing I learned about this experience is, many of our modern day tea vessel designs do borrow the pervious period for inspirations. Not only the design, but the materials as well. Perhaps we are just borrowing and adopting the customs of what people were using 50-100 years ago?

Now, the second quiz:

What are these silver items for, why and what are their differences? The closest winner will be given a Ddok-cha from Korea.
(Period hint. Wudong DC for Song dynasty. Ddok-cha for....)

Will have the answer by Wed. the 16th. Happy Holidays!


author said...

Well, of course I have no idea.

However, as it reminds me of a sommelier's cup I am going to guess that these were used for alcohol (wine). I'd also venture to guess that silver ware was influenced by trade from the Middle East (as was wine)


author said...

BTW, browsing around the web I found something a little similar here:

Scroll down to the 14th item - there are two similar looking cups. It says that one is silver and its double is actually ceramic. Tang Dynasty. So - is that the difference? I'm still going to guess a Middle Eastern influence.

Trent said...

With the clue in mind, Han Dynasty:

I'm guessing they're cups, designed to accentuate the high notes of a tea (just like qingbai ware would).

The difference? one seems to be "dirtier" than the other, and more orange... almost as if it oxidized/rusted/was exposed to water for a period of time. Or, you could have just cleaned the "less dirty" (less orange) one.

toki said...

Hi Janine, Thanks for those interesting researches and great finds. Funny to compare who influenced who by trade or even by politic back then. Was researching more on the Han dynasty culture, I found out some of the terracotta army buried with the First Emperor of Qin have Western and African faces!

If anything comparing these cups to the Middle Eastern. I guess India might influenced the most on silver crafts and religion? A wild guess....

author said...

Thanks, T.

Regarding silver vessels and mid-East influence, see photo and description here


toki said...

Cool find J. Of course you could find Mid-Eastern culture in Tang Dynasty, one of the famous Queen was from now-a-days a Turkey. And the silk road and ancient-tea-horse road was in high gear. Perhaps MarslhN could correct me : )

author said...

Thanks T. When you say present-day Turkey, do you know which country/culture she was from? Sorry to pester you with too many off-topic questions...(but I am curious)


author said...

T - you inspired me to study more about this. Since my ancestors are Armenian, I became interested in the Chinese connection and it turns out there was a very important one in addition to trade. During the Mongol period, they were allied in wars across Asia (stretching to the Mediterranean in kingdom of Cilicia). To make a long story short, there is evidence that Armenian art forms of all kinds (textile, ceramics, manuscripts, painting) came to incorporate dragons, phoenixes and other motifs of Chinese art through this alliance and communication (13th cent and after). History is amazing.

Okay back to topic... hmm

Are they wedding cups - for bride and groom?

MarshalN said...

Them silver things are Tenmoku chawan holders

scotttea said...

Look more like T'ang Dynasty wine cups. The silver makes me think they were made for tea, though (to brighten the flavor). Regardless, the form seems more T'ang (although this form was maintained during the Song, as well). Modern versions of this still exist and were preserved in Chanoyu ceremony with the use of a tenmoku dai (or tenmoku stand).
As for their origin, they seem to be very Buddhist (most likely Chinese Buddhist, since they do not bear any resemblance to Korean items of this period) and were probably used in some sort of Buddhist ceremony. I assume this only because of the lotus flower motif (echoed in the shape of the vessel). This, in turn, would probably rule out my wine theory.
In summation, I maintain these are most likely T'ang period cups (Song at the latest), and were probably used for some form of Buddhist ritual. I hope that helps ^_^

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