Posted in Kafevend Blog
As regular visitors to the blog will have noticed, we've been looking at the ins and outs of the Japanese tea ceremony over the past couple of months. It's a lot more complicated than putting the kettle on and deciding whether to break open a packet of Hobnobs or not! Last week we began to think about the decorative objects that are used to enhance a tea ceremony. Most tea houses have an alcove where a simple display is prepared that suits the time of year and sets the spiritual mood. The display consists of a flower arrangement in the chabana style and also a hanging scroll, known in Japanese as a kakemono or kakejiku.
There is another type of scroll called a makimono which is unrolled horizontally to look at on a flat surface, but a kakemono is unrolled vertically and hung on a wall. It was introduced to Japan from China by Buddhist monks during the Heian period, which stretched from the late eighth to the late twelfth century, but it was during the sixteenth century that it became a key facet in the increasingly austere and spiritual tea ceremony.
The scrolls feature calligraphy or paintings, sometimes a combination of the two. Calligraphic scrolls can be further divided into those created by either Zen priests, emperors and nobility, or tea masters. Likewise artistic scrolls come in a variety of styles, such as suiboko which are black and white monochromes. The host considers which scroll is best suited to a particular occasion very carefully; it's crucial to set the right tone. Guests will spend some time viewing the scroll and flower arrangement when first entering the tea room, thereby demonstrating their appreciation of the host's efforts. As ever the apparent simplicity of the tea ceremony belies the great thought and attention to detail involved.