ASIA212Varley

The first of these is distinguished by thick angular

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Unformatted text preview: sprouts of another style also appeared. The originator of this The Canons of Medieval Taste 129 new style was Murata Shukò (or Jukò; d. 1502), a man of merchant background from Nara who was an ear nest student of Zen Buddhism. Shukò said: In pursuing this way [of tea], extreme care should be taken to harmonize Japanese and Chinese tastes. This is of great importance and should be given careful attention. How absurd it is these days for those who are inexperienced to covet with self-satisfaction such things as Bizen and Shigaraki wares on the grounds that they possess the quality of being “cold and withered” and to try, even though scorned by others, to show how advanced they are [in the way].37 These remarks are included in a letter Shukò purportedly wrote to a disciple and is the only surviving document we have that is attributed to him. Most of what else we know about Shukò as a tea master is contained in writings on chanoyu that date from about a century after his death. Shukò’s admonition about taking care to “harmonize Japanese and Chinese tastes” has traditionally been taken to mean that he stood, in the late fifteenth century, at a point of transition from the elegant and “aristocratic” kind of Higashiyama chanoyu just described, which featured imported Chinese articles, to a new, Japanese form of the ceremony that used native ceramics, such as the rough-textured, muted, and often flawed wares of kilns such as Bizen and Shigaraki (fig. 35). Aesthetically, this was a significant transition, because it represented a reassertion of such basic native values as naturalness and irregularity. Shukò’s description of Bizen and Shigaraki wares as cold and withered is a reflection of the fact that he, like his successors in the sixteenth century, was strongly influenced by the aesthetics of linked verse formulated by Shinkei and others. In chanoyu, cold and withered were tastes that pointed in the direction of the wabi aesthetic; and indeed, the new kind of tea ceremony originated by Shu...
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