About Exhibition Tea Utensils: Old and New What is an Occidental Teahouse? Tea Heart, Tea Mind: Are either a chemical trait? Gallic Perfume: Proust and Tea in French Culture Wabi: the tea esthetic re-examined Temae: Procedure, Performance, Continuity in Change Explore the way of tea: Links on WWW Found Materials in Context
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Thé: une ceremonie d'infusion - Aprille Best Glover - Renior Museum August thru October 2002

What exactly is an occidental tea house? In some senses it differs little from a traditional teahouse. The structure is divided into three different hierarchical areas, the host space, the guest space, and a raised alcove for flower and artwork. Yet the native French materials stubtly transform not only the appearance but the architectural significance of the traditional Japanese elements. Teahouses have never had just one defined architectural form but like snowflakes by the process and function. The word for a teahouse in Japanese is Sukiya. Sukiya can be interpreted as Abode of Fancy or Abode of Vacancy or the Abode of the Unsymmetrical

That the tea-room should be built to suit some individual taste is an enforcement of the principle of vitality in art. Art, to be fully appreciated, must be true to contemporaneous life. It is not that we should ignore the claims of posterity, but that we should seek to enjoy the present more. It is not that we should disregard the creations of the past, but that we should try to assimilate them into our consciousness. Slavish conformity to traditions and formulas fetters the expression of individuality in architecture. ... Would that we loved the ancients more and copied them less! It has been said that the Greeks were great because they never drew from the antique...

- Okakura Kakuzo, The Book of Tea

Each level is a different height. The alcove or tokonama, is taller by about 5cm than the guest area. It is small platform of metal framed by old wood. The tokamana has the only wall in the teahouse with a handing scroll by the artist. The guest space is the largest of the areas and can seat three persons on simple wooden cubes. The floor is covered In fine raked gray sand from the local river Var.As one steps on the sand and scatters the fleeting pattern with one's feet, it's like a viseral ichi-go-ichi-e. (one meeting, one chance)

The lowest level is the host area where the fire boils the water for the tea. The floor of the host area is covered in hand-picked beach pebbles from the beach along with a cast firepit. The host enters the teahouse by stone steps in back right (see below).

Host Entry - Host enters tea house from due south. Steps formed by three hand extracted stepping stones.
Tokonama - The tokonama is the highest level and the smallest square area. It is the only area with a wall which is made from truck pallets. The floor is metal framed by found lumber. The wall directly faces Renoir's studio due north.
Guest Area - It is the largest square area and intermediate height. The floor is covered with raked hand-exacavated sand from the river Var. It has three seats made from scraps of beams take from lumber yard. Guests turn westward (America) to watch host make tea.
Host Area - It is a lowest most humble level and where the tea is made. To see guests, the host must turn eastward.
Guest Entry - Guest enter from due north. The single stone from col de Vence has a natural seat for removing shoes comfortably.

The tea-room (the Sukiya) does not pretend to be other than a mere cottage--a straw hut, as we call it. The original ideographs for Sukiya mean the Abode of Fancy. Latterly the various tea-masters substituted various Chinese characters according to their conception of the tea-room, and the term Sukiya may signify the Abode of Vacancy or the Abode of the Unsymmetrical. It is an Abode of Fancy inasmuch as it is an ephemeral structure built to house a poetic impulse. It is an Abode of Vacancy inasmuch as it is devoid of ornamentation except for what may be placed in it to satisfy some aesthetic need of the moment. It is an Abode of the Unsymmetrical inasmuch as it is consecrated to the worship of the Imperfect, purposely leaving some thing unfinished for the play of the imagination to complete.

- Okakura Kakuzo (1862-1913), The Book of Tea



Thé:ceremony de l'infusion.Views of installation. 2002. Cagnes-sur-Mer, France.

The name, Abode of Fancy, implies a structure created to meet some individual artistic requirement. The tea-room is made for the tea master, not the tea-master for the tea-room. It is not intended for posterity and is therefore ephemeral. The idea that everyone should have a house of his own is based on an ancient custom of the Japanese race, Shinto superstition ordaining that every dwelling should be evacuated on the death of its chief occupant...

With the predominance of Zen individualism in the fifteenth century, however, the old idea became imbued with a deeper significance as conceived in connection with the tea-room. Zennism, with the Buddhist theory of evanescence and its demands for the mastery of spirit over matter, recognized the house only as a temporary refuge for the body. The body itself was but as a hut in the wilderness, a flimsy shelter made by tying together the grasses that grew around,--when these ceased to be bound together they again became resolved into the original waste. In the tea-room fugitiveness is suggested in the thatched roof, frailty in the slender pillars, lightness in the bamboo support, apparent carelessness in the use of commonplace materials. The eternal is to be found only in the spirit which, embodied in these simple surroundings, beautifies them with the subtle light of its refinement.

- Okakura Kakuzo, The Book of Tea

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About Exhibition Tea Utensils: Old and New What is an Occidental Teahouse? Tea Heart, Tea Mind: Are either a chemical trait? Gallic Perfume: Proust and Tea in French Culture Wabi: the tea esthetic re-examined Temae: Procedure, Performance, Continuity in Change Explore the way of tea: Links on WWW Found Materials in Context
  [Home]*[Current Project]*[ Memory of a guest that lingers...]*[Alchemic Light]*[Poetics]*[Open Secrets]*[Archived Site]*[Contact]

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What exactly is an occidental tea house? In some sense it differs little from a traditional Teahouse. The structure is also divided into three different hierarchical units, the host space, the guest space, and a raised alcove for art work. Yet the native French materials subtly transform ...

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