A 'JIAN' SILVER 'HARE'S FUR' 'TEMMOKU' TEA BOWL SOUTHERN SONG DYNASTY
Duke Motonori Mori (1839-1896).
Tea bowls of this type were renowned for their unique suitability for drinking tea as the fine foam of the whisked powdered tea contrasted attractively with the dark glaze of the vessel. The thickness of the glaze also helped keep the tea warm while protecting the hands of the drinker from the hot beverage. Furthermore, the concave indentation below the rim of the bowl allows a firm grip and is said to cause the drinker to consume the tea in small sips, which is important for the full appreciation and enjoyment of tea. From literature it is known that the best quality Jian bowls were carefully selected as tribute from Fujian to the court. Jian bowls were also taken to Japan by Buddhist monks who spent time in Chinese monasteries. ‘Temmoku’ is the Japanese pronounciation of 'Tianmu', a mountain in Zhejiang, north of Jianyang, where monastic communities favored the use of Jian bowls for tea drinking. Tea consumption was an established practice in Buddhist monasteries as tea was prized as a stimulant in assisting Buddhist monks in their meditation. For an extensive study on the history of Jian ware and their transportation to Japan, see Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, ‘Defining Temmoku: Jian Ware Tea Bowls Imported into Japan’, Hare’s Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers, Cambridge, 1995, pp. 43-58.