Friday, August 15, 2008

Three More Spectacular Lee Kang Hyo Pak Ji Style Cha Hang A Ree: Lessons Learned From Tea Storage Containers

The furthest pictured is much like the pak ji style large tea storage container that was posted a few days ago. Its biggest difference is the interesting form it presents itself in. Due to its shape, tea naturally pools in the center of this teetering piece.

The nearest pictured is in the form of a fish. This work is really eye opening, an amazingly original container for tea. Imagery of fish in Korea often allude to diligence, freedom, and enlightenment.

Because a fish's eyes are never closed, they alert us to always work hard and carefully when preparing tea.

Because a fish swims freely and seemingly unrestricted in the waters and ponds, they are a symbol of freedom. We should always prepare tea with this kind of mind, as free as a fish.

The inside of this cha hang a ree resembles the rippling undulations of a pond or once still body of water. It alludes to stillness and peace when preparing tea. This pak ji storage container is truly wondrous.

The work pictured in the center is as beautiful as it is interesting and symbolic. It closely resembles the wooden fish striker that is original to the Buddhist temples of Korea. This striker hangs from the roof by two chains, attached to its wooden body, in the bell pavilion. It hangs right next to an enormous bell the bell is sounded by ramming the fish into the bell thereby sounding it off, sending deep reverberations throughout the temple ground. The striker is said to be in the shape of a fish because of an old Korean legend.

Atop most temple bells in Korea is a mythical character called Poroe. Poroe is a dragon and is insanely terrified of whales. It is said that if he runs into a whale he will cry out in loud terrifying shriek. So the fish shaped striker is used to amplify and deepen the sensations of the bell.

The sound of the bell reminds us to stay ever present, liberating us. This tea container only acts to amplify our experience with tea and reminds us to always be present when preparing tea.



hagi said...
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ginkgo said...

this tes container is made as if it was a piece of wood ! very nice and funny this fish !

Matt said...


Now that you mention it, the middle container does almost look like it could have been made of wood.


Will said...

Have you ever read the Zhuangzi Chapter where he talks about how he knows the happiness of the fish? Somehow, your description of the tea container reminded me of this.

Pat Canella said...

Amazing craftsmanship! Looks like a solitary piece of wood, just awesome!

Matt said...


One probably read that piece and didn't even realize how it had influenced this post. But writings about fish in zen literature goes way back. one will have to check it out again.

Pat Canella,

Yeah, it is a truly wonderful piece of art it resembles wood in so many ways. Thanks for commenting.