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Taiwanese Folk Culture Through The Tunnel Of Time Appreciating The Charm Of Taiwanese Teaware

Dictated By: He Jian/Interviewer And Arrangement: Liao De Ming/Photography: Chen /Tea Utensils Provided By: Yetang

As tools for tea tastings tea utensils can influence the of a brewed tea. They also show the standards of their manufacture and provide a window into the tea drinking flavor of the pats, telling tales of a bygone era.

Below, I introduce seven tea utensils. In terms of time, they were produced from Taiwan's period of Japanese occupation (1895-1945) up to the 1970's and 80's. Each has its own distinguishing features, which allow us to see the style and atmosphere of Taiwanese tea drinking during periods.

Grape patterned painted teapot with handle

Width: 14cm Height: 16.5cm
Teapot, 4 cups with lids
Period of Japanese occupation

In Chinese folk culture, grapes represent having many children and grandchildren and also good fortune and longevity. The hand-painted patterns on this teapot contain traditional Chinese imagery, but the ink strokes provide a Japanese East Asian flavor. The application of color is quiet and refined. Especially significant is the day used at the time in Taiwan to produce tea utensils. Only a small amount of ceramic clay was used, and they lack the exquisiteness of later productions. Instead the fired products have a sort of gentle and warm flavor, Inspiring a desire to caress like the sight of bare flesh. This tea set is a product of Japanese occupied Taiwan's Beitou and Yingge areas and is representative of the level of tea utensil craftsmanship in Taiwan at that time.

Coexistence and Coprosperity handle pot set

Width: 14cm Height: 16.5cm
Teapot, 4 cups with lids
Period of Japanese occupation

During the tense period of World War II, Japan continuously strengthened the ideology of a "Great East Asian Circle of Shared Prosperity: As a Japanese colony, Taiwan was no exception. Numerous propaganda posters appeared with the slogan Coexistence and Coprosperity," This theme penetrated into everyday life. Cherry flowers are painted onto these tea utensils, encircling four characters that say "Coexistence and Coprosperity." This is an excellent portrait of an era, The words "Danshui Limited Liability Credit Cooperative 25th Anniversary Commemorative Piece" are written on the teapot. The practice organizations giving tea sets as gifts to their customers began during the Japanese occupation and continued after Taiwan regained independence. The inscription on the bottom of the cups says "Kutani Kitade Production," which further illustrates the growing Eastern influence of Japanese craft.

Long Guan

Width: 29cm Height: 29cm
Produced after 1945

Early post-war Taiwan tea sets emphasized functionality. Large-sized Long Quart pots were a major product at the time. A Long Guan teapot in the field or at the door of a temple was often filled with boiled water — not necessarily lea. Used to relieve thirst brought on by farm work, they normally did not feature any pattern decoration. Relatively more care, however, was given to to dragons, which were pasted or pressed to the left and right sides of the teapot as decoration. Not particularly elegant, they feel rather simple and unaffected.

Taiwan early post-war period tea set

Width:12cm Height 7cm
Teapot, tea tray, 2 teacups after 1945

As tea drinking became tea tasting, the practice of "nourishing a teapot" came into fashion within Taiwan. After brewing tea over months and years in a quality teapot, a layer of residue accumulates, which is known as a "tea mountain." After brewing tea, it was necessary to constantly whisk clean the pot. It was possible to judge a person from the outward appearance of their teapot. This was part of the fashion of "nourishing a teapot." At the time, far less attention was paid to tea trays and teacups. A large bowl or a deep serving platter often served as a tea tray. Cups served multiple functions. In addition to drinking tea, they were also used for drinking alcohol and, of course, water. The tea tray and tea cups were often decorated with deep red and blue (ink floral designs) popular at the time.

Banshan Dongyang tea set

Width: 12.5cm Height 7.5cm
Teapot, saucers, and 4 teacups
Produced after 1945

Unlike the previous style of mixing and matching teapots, tea trays, and teacups, the stage of drinking "gongfu" tea meant more attention was paid to tea. People began to favor complete sets of teaware. This set of teaware, bearing the inscription" Product of Dongyang," was produced in the Nantou Banshan Dongyang kiln. The Dongyang kiln was founded by Wu Mao after World War ll. He had worked in the Nantou Xiede kiln, which was a relatively famous kiln in Nantou during the period of Japanese occupation. All pieces in this tea set, including the teapot, tray, and teacups, were entirely hand-molded from day. It is an excellent representation of the level of Taiwanese teaware craftsmanship.

Dongyang kiln lion-knobbed teapot

Width: 13.5cm
Height 8.5cm
Produced after 1945

During the period of post-war economic development, the quality of Taiwan teapot production followed the increase in levels of craftsmanship and demands of tea drinkers, gradually blazing new trails. The Dongyao kiln stands as a prominent example. dragon-knobbed teapot, apart from the skill workmanship of the hand-pulled clay, is distinguished by the lion molded onto its knob, This is not a traditional Chinese image of a powerful lion. It has a wide mouth with an upward pointing smile, large and slight raised nostrils, and bulging eyes. Its overall appearance resembles a character from a Japanese comic book, causing tea drinkers to unavoidably smile. This type of model is a remnant of the influence of the Japanese occupation.

Double Happiness handle teapot series

Width: 14.5cm Height: 15cm
Teapot, 6 cups with lids
Produced after 1945

Red inlaid characters for double happiness (Chinese characters representing marriage) are paired with gold gilded plum flowers. The gold edges are set off by red jade ring patterns. Double happiness has blessed the house and the plum flowers have blossomed, This is truly a jubilant sight, which reveals the situations for which this tea set was intended, This teaware is very well suited for such special occasions. This tea set was produced by the "Jinyihe Porcelain Factory," which was founded during the period of Japanese occupation. The factory continued operation after Taiwan regained independence, primarily producing tableware as wall as teaware. It shut down and disbanded in 1984. At the time this set was produced, the factory's level of porcelain production craft was already extremely high. The style of pairing items could also satisfy the tastes of various people.