But as we will see this term was not coined until the

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Unformatted text preview: sunaga Hisahide (1510–77), is said on a certain occasion to have saved his life by presenting Nobunaga with a priceless tea caddy. Some years later, after Hisahide had joined a plot against Nobunaga and was faced with imminent destruction, he purportedly smashed to bits another highly treasured piece, a kettle, to prevent its falling into his adversary’s hands. When Nobunaga in his march to power imposed his control over the city of Sakai, then the main port in the lucrative foreign trade with China, he acquired a number of valuable tea pieces from the collections of wealthy Sakai merchants and took into his service several of the better known tea masters of the city, including Sen no Rikyû. In addition to having these masters design the tearoom for his castle at Azuchi, Nobunaga used them to preside over the frequent and elaborate tea parties he held. It became his custom, moreover, to bestow prized tea utensils on his lieutenants for meritorious service; and he even went so far as to make the right of these men to hold formal tea parties a distinction that he alone could bestow. It is recorded that Hideyoshi, when granted this honor in 1578 after an important military victory, was overcome with gratitude toward Nobunaga. Upon his succession to national overlordship, Hideyoshi displayed an especially strong fondness for mammoth social affairs and is particularly remembered for the great tea party he held at the Kitano Shrine in Kyoto in 1587. The party was scheduled to last for ten days, weather permitting, and everyone, from courtiers and daimyos to townsmen and peasants and even foreigners, was invited. Guests were required only to bring a few The Country Unified 163 utensils to serve themselves and mats to sit on. An outbreak of fighting in Kyushu brought cancellation of the party after only one day; yet it seems to have been thoroughly enjoyed by the great throng of people who attended. Hideyoshi put many of his most valued tea pieces on display and, along with Rikyû and two other tea masters from Sakai, personally served a large number of the assembled guests. Despite his penchant for the grandiose, Hideyoshi was also a fond admirer of wabic...
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