Monday, November 28, 2011
Appreciation & Wear of Kim Kyoung Soo's Grey and White Style: The Serving Pot
Hot water gets passed from the cooling bowl to the teapot, from the teapot to the serving pot, then from the serving pot to the cups. After the serving pot is preheated and the tea steeped, the serving pot is the first to receive the gift of infused tea from the teapot. It is the first to receive and the first to give. It reminds us that the tea ceremony is about giving and receiving- about host serving guest.
The serving pot contains the same yin and yang motifs as the cooling bowl and tea pot. Its most noticeable feature is its shape and form.The shape and form of this grey and white Kim Kyoung Soo serving pot reflects both its practical and energetic function.
Warm infused tea passes from the spout of the teapot and through the relatively narrow collar of the serving pot. This opening at the top of the serving pot is a bit smaller than the opening of the cooling pot. The smaller opening is to retain the heat and the qi of the infused tea. The serving pot also has a more distinct bulbous interior than the more open interior of the cooling pot. This more bulbous shape acts to amplify the sound of the pour and give it more of a beautiful echoing reverberation- a feeling of closeness, of being grounded and held, a feeling of safety. More importantly this deeper bulbous shape acts to contain the warmth and qi (taste and smell) of the tea inside. It also reminds us that host should always retain warmth and feeling in every tea meeting.
There is beautiful contrast from the wear of this Kim Kyoung Soo serving pot. The inside of the pot was once as white and pure as the cooling bowl. Now only the crackled top collared rim shows evidence of what was. The choice to leave it covered in tea oil obscuring its pure white inside is simply to not remove qi that has accumulated from all the green tea that has passed through this vessel manifesting as this brown, terracotta coloured layer. Some feel that the presentation of purity to the guest is more important than accumulation of qi- you will see both in Korea.
The most stunning feature of this interior is no doubt the contrasting white flecks on the interior's bottom. These were made by a guest who doubted that there would be white under the thick coat of tea oils. They scraped their finger nail on the bottom of this serving pot, only when the white ceramic was exposed did they believe that such drastic change had taken place. These exposed white flecks remind one to experience that which is beyond the senses when enjoying tea poured from this serving pot.
The form of this pot looks as if it is reaching, stretching from handle to spout a little bit. This represents the relationship between the person preparing tea and their guests. On one end, the maker of the tea has his hand around the looped handle. This looped handle is almost identical to that of the teapot. It too contains ghostly faint, cloud-like globs of glaze.
On the other end is a long reaching spout. It is a bit longer than that of the teapot. It truly gives the impression of stretching from host to guest- of reaching out, of touching with warmth, with tea.
The tea oiled insides interconnect with the oil stains that descend down the exterior of the pot. They reaching down the long spout connecting almost flawlessly to the exposed clay of the pot's base. What is inside is out and what is out is inside. The green tea within connecting with Earth, with the host, with the guest.