Saturday, March 15, 2008

'Hok Sae Mo Eh So Hwan' Traditional Style of Tea Drinking Bowls

Tea loves to dwell in beautiful places.

This post will start into motion an ongoing attempt at highlighting some of these places.

Tea drinking bowls (Kor: cha sa bal; Jap: chawan) are the most grandiose and celebrated of these places. Housing the thick green froth of mal cha (Jap: matcha), the energies of man, water, air, and powered tea converge here. It is both a creation vessel and consumption vessel- its point of conception and its last stand.

Brief descriptions of these different styles of tea drinking bowls by Korean ceramic artists will be featured throughout this blog. Enjoy.

'Hok' means black. 'Sae Mo' refers to the white base. These tea bowls are just that- black colour applied to a white base before being fired in the kiln. During the firing process the black reddens giving these pieces a rust tone that shares space with black globs in areas where the paint was thickly applied. Besides white and black- reds, oranges, browns, and greys can be seen.
Rustic imperfection is a strong attribute of this style. A lot of examples include obvious or exaggerated asymmetry where the shape of the bowl looks warped. A heptagonal base is also a characteristic of this style.

Rusty. Rustic. Old. Imperfect. The 'Hok Sae Mo Eh So Hwan' style is wabi sabi.

The tea drinking bowl photographed is by Kim Jeong Pill. The top black area has a slippery-soft but slightly textured feel while the white base feels smooth but a bit sandy and gritty. This bowl is more symmetrical than most of this style, with a distinct lip that feels natural resting in ones mouth. One of the most wonderful features of this bowl is the colour change that takes place with the white glaze in the bowl. When hot water is added to pre-heat the bowl the white glaze reveals white-grey spots like fresh spring rain hitting old winter snowbanks before freezing within. Only through use can the true nature of this piece be realized.



Brent said...

That tea bowl is absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for the info and pictures.

You have a great blog here. Now that I've found it, I'll be sure to stay up to date on your posts.


Space Samurai said...

I've really been enjoying your blog. The pictures are great and your information unique. Your blog stands out.

Matt said...


Your welcome.
One hopes this tea blog serves, first and formost, to further your nerdy thirst for tea knowledge. ;)


I'm glad you are enjoying this blog just as I enjoy yours. That makes me smile.

Remember, as stated in the blog description box at the top of the page, this blog is as much mine as it is yours or the tea's.

Ones comments only add to it, change it, and make it what it is.

Thanks for your positive words both of you.


Hobbes said...

Howdy Matt,

I've just come across your blog, and plan to keep reading it regularly - thanks for the great detail, and the attractive images.



Bill said...

Lovely cup and blog!!


Matt said...

Bill & Hobbes,

Thank you for your kind thoughts and words.

I always enjoy reading and learning from your experiences with tea.

Your blogs are both stellar.


geneviève meylan said...

iI can't speak so well english and my words are poor but these bowls are...
just so wonderfull.

Matt said...