Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Korean Spin On Japanese Style Braziers: the Hwa Row


Koreans have a long history of creating innovative, functional, practical, and completely unique teaware. Korea created works and utensils independent of China and Japan, a lot of teaware that comes from Korea are truly Korean inventions and served a functional as well as an ascetic purpose. This was also true for the devices created for bringing the water to a boil.

Throughout Korea's history braziers were commonly made of stone, iron, or silver and usually sat atop three legs. Sometimes a kettle was just hung over hot coals, but most likely some kind of device was used for boiling the kettle. With the invasion of Korea by Japan in the early 1900s, Japanese style iron brazers became the dominant style in most tea circles. Even today this influence can sometimes be seen in the Korean tea rooms.

The functional and practical spirit of boiling water coupled with Korea's modern fast pace, go-go-go, always on the move lifestyle has almost lead to the extinction of the use of charcoal heated braziers. Nowadays, in all but a few tea houses, electric heated braziers are used. These devices use an electric coil to heat the kettle above. Some are in the shape of old Japanese style braziers with the heating coil placed where coals once were. But, most are completely new creations fusing old ceramic techniques with the new modern conveniences of electric power.

One exception to this rule are the braziers of Uh Sang Myung. They so exemplify Korean tea culture that they should only be referred to as 'Hwa Row', the Korean word for brazier meaning 'fire box'. The top picture is a photo of Uh Sang Myung's style of Hwa Row.

Peace

4 comments:

Jason Fasi said...

wish i had a clay body here that could take charcoal heating. :(

Matt said...

Jason,

It's almost unbelievable that this clay can take that kind of heat no problem. My friend said that even if the water evaporates in the kettle and there is no water left, it still will not crack over the intense heat of the charcoal.

It looks like your having a lot of fun with your new hobby.

Peace

ginkgo said...

It seems very easy to use ! Can we adjust the temperature ? have you some other picture of these electic systhems or a direct link to the artist ? i like the mixt between old shape and modern and functional and pactical object for our today lifes .

Matt said...

Ginkgo,

You can adjust the temperature. One will be publishing many posts with pictures over the next few weeks on the hwa row styles of popular Korean artist. The fusion of old and new is certainly interesting with these electric hwa rows.

Stay tuned.

Peace