Echoes of Fragrance – Evolution of Tea Culture from the Tang to the Qing Dynasties
甘茗廻香 – 中國歷代茶器的演變
Online Auction: 8–16 December 2021 • 10:00 AM HKT • Hong Kong | 網上拍賣: 2021年12月8-16日 • 上午 10:00 HKT • 香港

Echoes of Fragrance – Evolution of Tea Culture from the Tang to the Qing Dynasties 8–16 December 2021 • 10:00 AM HKT • Hong Kong

Echoes of Fragrance

Echoes of Fragrance presents the evolution of tea culture from the Tang to the Qing dynasties. This special tea-themed online sale of Chinese art is a companion to Sotheby’s inaugural auction of rare and premium Puerh.

We observe the development of tea consumption through the teawares and drinking vessels of each period, prompted by changes in preparation methods. These occurred in three major shifts in history: compressed tea cakes were decocted during the Tang dynasty (618–907), fine ground tea powder was whisked during the Song dynasty (960–1279), and whole tea leaves were steeped during Ming dynasty (1368–1644), a style that continued onwards into the Qing dynasty (1636–1912) and to the present day.


蘇富比首場以茶為主題的網上專場「甘茗廻香–中國歷代茶器的演變」,展現唐至清朝歷代飲茶文化演變,拍賣由12月8起至16日;同期尚有蘇富比首場普洱茶專場「珍茶淺酌」,涵蓋清末民初至今明星茶品,皆彌足珍貴。

中國人的飲茶文化源遠流長,如今大家熟悉的泡茶方式起源於明朝,並與明太祖朱元璋的開國政策息息相關。在明代之前,豐盛富饒的茶文化盛行於唐宋,彼時達官貴人流行「鬥茶」,飲茶方式與今人殊異,堪值細味。此外,五花八門的茶具亦反映出歷朝飲茶方式的演變。

The Evolution of Chinese Tea Culture
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中國歷代茶文化演變

Featured Highlights 精選拍品

Tang Dynasty: An Era of Expansion唐朝:素瓷雪色縹沫香

Literary references to drinking tea trace as far back as before the Han dynasty (202-220). However, it wasn’t until the Tang dynasty that it changed from a rare luxury to widespread custom in China, thanks to the ascendant influence of Buddhism, which generally discouraged the use of intoxicants. In 750, Lu Yu completed the Classic of Tea (Cha Jing), which was the first text devoted to the appreciation of tea, including a comprehensive history, cultivation techniques, preparation methods, and drinking styles. Tea proved to be crucial for the expansion and prosperity of the empire, because its widespread consumption created demand that extended beyond the borders of the country. Production of this valuable commodity transformed formerly barren areas into flourishing plantations in the southern regions of China. This was a development that would prove to be an important source of revenue for the imperial government, especially after it enacted key fiscal reforms that imposed taxes on tea. The taste for tea would spread outward to neighbouring empires or tribes, and with this growing demand, the Tang administrations would barter tea for horses necessary for military trade.

漢代以前已有關於飲茶的文獻紀錄,但飲茶文化真正蔚然成風的時代還是在唐朝開始。公元750年,陸羽完成《茶經》,詳細記述飲茶源流、種茶方式、煮茶技巧、品飲步驟等。唐朝文化廣披四海,唐人飲茶風氣從中原蔓延至邊陲異域,甚至外邦亦開始要求向唐朝換取茶葉。隨著國內外對茶葉需求攀升,茶葉價格不菲,唐朝政府開始專營茶葉,以往被視為山林瘴氣之地的中國南方開始大規模種茶,政府亦開始與西南及西北少數民族以茶馬互市,各取所需。此外,唐代佛教大興,飲茶文化自中唐起亦進入禪林,形成「茶禪」文化,日本茶道精神亦起源於此。

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Song Dynasty: An Era of Refinement宋代:暗窗細乳戲分茶

Tea reached its zenith during the Song dynasty in terms of popularity and sophistication. Access to tea had become so widespread that it was no longer a luxury for just members of the nobility or elite scholars. Yet its association with ceremonies (such as weddings), competitions, and literary gatherings, along with the fact that Song dynasty emperors were famously fond of tea, elevated its cultural status and connoisseurship. Tea would be sent to emperors as imperial tribute. The Song dynasty would see the further elaboration in the production of compressed tea cakes, achieved through painstaking labour-intensive processes. Notable in this period was the development of whisked tea. Similar to earlier preparations, compressed tea cakes would be ground into a fine powder. Where it differed from the Tang dynasty method was rather than cooking the pulverized tea, boiled water would be poured over the powder in the bowl and whisked into a thick froth.

Banner Image: Eighteen Scholars of the Tang (detail), attributed to Emperor Huizong, Song Dynasty, ©Collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei

宋代的品茶文化極為精緻,可謂登峰造極,而且飲茶之風盛行,無論貴族雅士還是平民百姓皆喜飲茶甚至鬥茶。賞茶品茗也是慶典、婚禮和文人雅聚的重要環節,連宋朝皇帝也喜愛品茶,更加大幅提升了茶的社會地位,讓賞茶文化發展蓬勃。在宋朝,茶葉是貢品,茶餅的製作工藝比前朝更加繁複,耗工費時,每個步驟一絲不苟,而聞名的點茶法也是發展於宋代。點茶法,是先將茶餅壓碎後磨成細末,置於茶盌之內,再逐漸注入沸水,加以擊拂成細滑如乳的泡沫,與唐朝人將茶葉加入水中烹煮的方法迥然有別。

圖片:《十八學士圖》(局部),(傳)宋徽宗繪 ©台北故宮博物院藏

Those familiar with chanoyu, the Japanese ceremonial preparation and service of green tea, may note its similarity with Song dynasty tea rituals. It was around this time that Japanese Buddhist monks may have introduced this way of tea from China. As a result, an array of Song dynasty teawares had been exported into Japan.

宋人繼承唐朝輝煌文化,在細節上更精緻繁複。自唐朝起,日本僧人學者紛紛來華,茶文化遂隨使者東傳到日本。日本茶道源自唐宋的煎茶與點茶法,其方式仍保留唐宋古韻。宋瓷精巧秀麗,而隨使者返國的唐物茶具被奉若珍寶,留下不少佳話。

A Seismic Shift 物轉星移

The Ming dynasty would usher in great changes, creating a break with long-held conventions, not only with tea as an imperial tribute, but also the way it would be consumed. The Hongwu Emperor, founder of the dynasty, banned compressed tea cakes in an act of political reform that would have a seismic impact on tea culture in China. The Hongwu Emperor eschewed the resource-intensive production and elaborate rituals of tea practiced in earlier periods, and instead preferred the common custom of steeping leaves – pouring boiling water directly into the loose leaves in a vessel. The Emperor's decree paved the way to innovations in new teawares, such as the teapot.

到了明朝,飲茶的方式起了翻天覆地的變化。明朝開國皇帝朱元璋改革朝政,同時禁止製作茶餅,徹底改變了唐宋以來中國的茶文化。朱元璋摒棄前朝費工耗時的製茶方式及品茶儀式,改用直接簡單的方法泡茶,將茶葉放進茶具當中, 再直接沸水倒入,新型茶具如茶壺和紫砂壺就是始於明朝。

A Seated Portrait of Ming Emperor Taizu. ©Collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei
明太祖像©台北故宮博物院藏

Ming & Qing Dynasty: A New Era明清:可謂盡茶之真味矣

Following the Hongwu Emperor's decree banning the production of compressed teacakes, his son Zhu Quan, the Prince of Ning, wrote the Tea Manual (Cha Pu) in 1440, a treatise on preparation, teawares, and appreciation of tea. The Tea Manual is a seminal work that is generally considered to have kicked off a new era in China’s tea culture.

洪武帝朱元璋禁團茶,其子寧王朱權於正統四年(1440年)著《茶譜》,講述製茶、品茶之道以及茶具的鑑賞,開啟了中國茶文化的新篇章。

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Image: Spring Dawn in the Han Palace (detail), Sun Hu, Zhou Kun and Ding Guanpeng, Qing Dynasty, ©Collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei

圖片:孫祜、周鯤、丁觀鵬《院本漢宮春曉圖卷》局部 ©台北故宮博物院藏

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