In 1591 for reasons that remain to this day obscure

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Unformatted text preview: minimum of utensils and decorative accessories (fig. 48). Later wabicha masters went so far as to arrange their teahouses to appear like the huts of the most humble of farmers, building them with mud walls and unpainted wood, and eliminating all decoration save a single display of flowers or calligraphy in the tokonoma. But Rikyû achieved the ultimate in wabicha settings by adopting as his preferred teahouse a stark hut of only two mats in size, which could at most accommodate two or three people in one gathering. Fig. 48 Interior of the Yûin tea room at Urasenke in Kyoto (courtesy of Tankòsha Publication Company, by permission of Urasenke) 162 The Country Unified The rise of Rikyû was in one respect an indication of the expanded influence, in cultural as well as commercial matters, of the merchant class of the Momoyama epoch. Rikyû, who served both Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, appears indeed as a herald of the coming age of bourgeois culture that flourished under the Tokugawa after 1600. Yet, despite his bourgeois background, Rikyû remained essentially a medieval man. He was not reluctant to take advantage of the new opportunities for social and political advancement that the times presented; but in the realm of culture, Rikyû proved to be a necessary restraining force against the excessive exuberance of the Momoyama spirit. Momoyama screen art, although bold and showy, was saved from becoming vulgar by its firm grounding in the earlier, more traditional kanga and Yamato styles of painting. The tea ceremony, on the other hand, was greatly threatened by the urge to ostentation it aroused among the newly risen military leaders of the age of unification. In their desire to demonstrate their cultural as well as martial grandeur, these swashbuckling chieftains went to extravagant lengths to engage spets in the “way of tea” and to collect rare and unusual tea utensils and accessories. They frequently purchased these at astronomical prices and greatly coveted them. One daimyo, Mat...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.

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