ASIA212Varley

When nobunaga in his march to power imposed his

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Unformatted text preview: th century the ceremony was further developed as wabicha, or tea (cha) based on the aesthetic of wabi. Haga Kòshirò defines wabi as comprising three kinds of beauty: a simple, unpretentious beauty; an imperfect, irregular beauty; and an austere, stark beauty. Sen no Rikyû himself chose to illustrate the meaning of wabi by citing a poem by the Heian-period court poet Fujiwara no Ietaka (1158–1237): To those who wait Only for flowers, Show them a spring Of grass amid the snow In a mountain village.11 Professor Haga’s analysis of this poem is itself a noteworthy contribution to our understanding of wabi: We can imagine a mountain village in the depths of winter when the seven wild grasses of autumn have withered and the brilliant scarlet leaves have scattered. It is a lonely, cold, and desolate world, a world that is even more deeply steeped in the emptiness of non-being than that of “a bayside reed hovel in the autumn dusk.” At first glance this may seem like a cold, withered world at the very extremity of yin. It is not, of course, simply a world of death. As proof, we have these lines: “When spring comes it turns to brightness and amid the snow fresh grass sprouts, here two there three blades at a The Country Unified 161 time.” This is truly “the merest tinge of yang at the extremity of yin.” Ietaka expressed this notion as a “spring of grass amid the snow.” And Rikyû found in it the perfect image of wabi. Thus Rikyû’s wabi, viewed externally, is impoverished, cold, and withered. At the same time, internally, it has a beauty which brims with vitality. While it may appear to be the faded beauty of the passive recluse, or the remnant beauty of old age, it has within it the beauty of non-being, latent with unlimited energy and change.12 Sen no Rikyû is noted for having taken the tea ceremony to its farthest extreme. Shukò had suggested that the ceremony be held in a small room, preferably four and a half mats in size, and that it be conducted with a...
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