Yet tragic though it was the burning of the tdaiji

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Unformatted text preview: Hino, I have added a lean-to on the south and a porch of bamboo. On the west I have built a shelf for holy water, and inside the hut, along the west wall, I have installed an image of Amida. . . . Above the sliding door that faces north I have built a little shelf on which I keep three or four black leather baskets that contain books of poetry and music and extracts from the sacred writings. Beside them stand a folding koto and a lute. Along the east wall I have spread long fern fronds and mats of straw, which serve as my bed for the night. I have cut open a window in the eastern wall, and beneath it have made a desk. Near my pillow is a square brazier in which I burn brushwood. To the north of the hut I have staked out a small plot of land that I have enclosed with a rough fence and made into a garden. I grow many species of herbs there.3 The medieval ideal of the hut reached its climax, spiritually and aesthetically, in the tea ceremony, which was created, as we will see, primarily in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Under the influence of Buddhism (especially Zen Buddhism), the tea master built his teahouse on the model of the peasant hut. And even when the teahouse/hut was situated in a city, such as Kyoto or Nara, it was styled as though—and provided with natural surroundings to give the impression that—it was in a remote “mountain village” (yamazato). The tea master assumed the role of one who has withdrawn from the world and, in a minimalist structure far from the bustle of urban society, seeks to achieve spiritual tranquility, if not enlightenment, through the enjoyment of tea. Inasmuch as the tea ceremony was as thoroughly aesthetic as it was spiritual, the master’s hut became, in its arrangement and appointments, the principal manifestation of his conception of “deprived beauty.” An event during the war that was especially shocking to contemporaries was the wanton destruction by the Taira of the Tòdaiji Temple in Nara. The Tòdaiji, it will be recalled, had been constructed under imperial auspices in the mid-eighth century to serve a...
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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 The University of British Columbia.

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