When our eye’s first encounter traditional Korean tea sets they might think that they are defective in some way. The cups are not perfectly round. In fact they’re lopsided, and the hand painted sets seem to have been thinly and sloppily applied, with runs dried into place. But all this is done Intentionally.So what does all this mean? In many respects we have been brought up with cookie cutter standards of perfection; at the first sign of imperfection we say: “hey how about a discount!” Most of the products we buy are exactly that: products, identical and devoid of any humanness. We cannot see or feel the artists uniqueness or the energy they put into creation. If we feel anything at all it’s the fragmented process of the assembly line.
The Korean potters that I have met and spoken with have told me that it is their intention to draw our attention the imperfections so that we may reflect upon them. Life is imperfection. A bump for example, may remind us of a beauty mark; it’s a apart of us. However, for some a beauty mark is a defect, and they seek surgical solutions.
Korean potters reconnect us with our own nature through the use of simple, familiar shapes and the elements that are used; through earth, water, wind, and fire we can identify and contemplate our own humanity. For that reason potters are special artists, because they create functional art from which we can sense ourselves and our relationship with the world we live in.
Design, color, texture, and the energy I feel in a tea set reflects mood, mind and personality of the potter; but more than that the tea set represents and connects me to the universe. When I examine the delicate and intricate crack lines in the pouring bowl, or the cups, it is like looking at the lines in the palms of my hands, or like looking up at the constellation in the night sky and seeing the connections. And this reminds me of the phrase ” a butterfly in Hong Kong affects the weather in New York.”
The tea sets that these Master potters make are not destined for museums. Museums are like the catacombs. They displayed dead objects under glass for spectators who pay an admission fee. It is only by using the pottery, by holding it in our hands that we can feel it’s energy, and gain introspection into our own lives and existence.
traditional tea sets are our teachers. They are vessels that instruct us in the meditative process of drinking a single cup of green tea. Tea is not about consumption, it’s about the process; that links us to the moment, to our true being, and the universe in which we live.