Incense in early chanoyu

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I would like to know of any resources (English, Japanese or French) that mention, discuss or even describe the relationship of incense and tea between in the period between 1300 – 1650.

Tea and incense are now seperate disciplines, with some vestiges of earlier times in both practices.
Any information or leads on their (tea and incense’s) original relationship/use in ritual practice on the continent (China and Korea) and Japan in the past is greatly appreciated. Especially anything that mentions tea and incense practiced together on the daisu.

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Thus far I have been able to establish that in the Shino Ryu (incense), the most formal incense temae is ‘midare’, and is performed on top of a shikishi paper. Daniel mentions that for chanoyu, the most formal temae is the ‘gokushin’ and in antiquity it utilised a shikishi on which to place the utensils when lowered onto the tatami. Whilst I can verify his translations of the Jōchi-ate Daisu Narai no Koto are very good, I can’t verify the information he places in his footnotes about the gokushin and the shikishi (stemming from his commentary on the Jōchi-ate Denshō). After a while trying to ascertain a reliable full text reproduction of the Nampō Roku, I’ve bitten the bullet and ordered a copy of what claims to be the full text. I’ll hunt around a bit in there to see if I can find some more solid connections.

On another note, the simple fact that the patterns placed in the kōrō ash in both chanoyu and the Shino Ryu are identical, suggests that they either branch out of an old practice, or that the Shino Ryu techniques were adopted into chanoyu.
You would think that different tea schools would have changed the pattern in the ashes, like temaes have been modified.

In the Ueda Ryu, when we do kencha, we always do kenkō (incense) in the same continuous temae. This is the sort of thing I would like to establish in other schools and in writings of antiquity – if incense and tea are together in one temae on the daisu.

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Chanoyu-to-wa has postings on this, in that Takeno Jo’o adapted the Shino family incense ceremony to Tea, and included incense during the shoza.

  • Elmar
  • Marius Frøisland
    Do you have a link to the passage?
  • Adam Sōmu
    Hear hear! A link would be great. I wish Daniel would set up an index one day.
  • Elmar
    I have been archiving the posts, and sorting them into separate files. I will try to get time to do a text search of them for you.
  • Adam Sōmu
    Thank you, Elmar. I should start doing the same.
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I would expect tea and incense to have rather separate histories. While tea was first introduced to Japan fairly early, it pretty much died out and was re-introduced by Eisai Myoan who imported tea seeds (or was it whole plants) to Japan and wrote Kisa-Yojoki. After that, tea evolved in a number of directions including the famous or infamous daimyo variety. Some Japanese will point to Ikyu who was somewhat eccentric as a pivotal person in the evolution of tea in Japan. Regardless, the use of incense in both the Heian period and in the Kamakura period as depicted in the Confessions of Lady Nijo was rather different from the common use of incense in tea. Certainly, the incense ceremony (I have a couple of beginning licenses from an incense school – I forget the name) has distinct ideas about what to do with incense. Yes, some of the tea games touch on incense which at least resembles the incense ceremony. I suspect that this practice was deliberately imported into tea. Regardless, the social origins of the two appear to me as somewhat distinct. Incense strongly asserts aristocratic roots while tea is comparatively plebeian. One of the things that was going on in military circles in the Kamakura period and later with Mercantile circles during the Sengoku period was trying to find comparable art forms in which the emergent group could assert proficiency. Thus, the military class embraced the Noh theatre and a number of other at the time comparatively new art forms. Ultimately, I suspect that tea evolved in part as a neuvo-riche  counterpart to incense.

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