Korean Tea Bowls in the World of 

Japanese Wabicha in Premodern Times


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For more than two centuries from the mid-sixteenth to mid-eighteenth centuries, one particular item dominated the fashion of wabicha, a form of tea ceremony, in Japan. This item were tea bowls imported from Korea, commonly called Korai chawan, or Korean tea bowls. Korean tea bowls held the key to the evolving aesthetic of wabicha which was much fostered by Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591) and inherited by other eminent tea masters in Tokugawa Japan. Despite their prominence in the world of wabicha, Korean tea bowls have not often been studied. In this talk, Hur explores the cultural trajectory of Korean tea bowls in the world of Japanese wabicha within the framework of trade and piracy, border-crossing cultural flow, war and diplomacy, diaspora, acculturation, and ethnocentrism in premodern East Asia.