Kobori Enshu | Letter
Making tea is easy. But when it comes to the procedures of the tea ceremony it is a different story. An overabundance of complicated preparations, extravagant utensils, and formalized conversations can be confusing. Then you should ask a tea master.
Kobori Enshu was a multi-talented genius. He was a designer of tea houses and gardens, a calligrapher and poet. On top of that he was a tea master. He studied under Sen Rikyu's student Furuta Oribe, developing a style of tea known as refined austerity (kirei sabi), which aimed to fuse the classical court taste with that of the newer military elite. Kobori Enshu was an adviser in all questions of taste to the Shogunal family for more than three and a half decades.
And as you can see in this letter to Baietsu he was a good, understanding and thoughtful teacher. And for once he did what he hardly ever did in his letters he added an illustration, which makes this letter stand out.
The three pieces of Tenmoku on the stand should be located in front. Take a ladle (hishaku) with the right hand and shift it to the left, take the lid off the tea kettle and scoop a bit of hot water. Pour it in the tenmoku tea bowl and rinse. Pour again more hot water and clean tea whisk in it. Put the whisk back in the tool holder. While the tea cloth which cleaned teakettle should be situated in the tenmoku bowl then put back the bowl onto the stand. The tea cloth should not be unfolded. - Soho, to Baietsu
Kobori Enshu, Soho (1579-1647)
Ink on paper
24.4 x 35.1 cm (9 1/2 x 13 3/4 in.)
Mounting 99.5 x 38 cm (39 x 15 in.)
Later black laquered wooden box