The Story of Chigusa:
A Japanese Tea Jar’s 700-year History
An online workshop organized by the Freer|Sackler, Smithsonian Institution
Wednesday 2 November, 9:00-10:30 PM Eastern Time (EDT)
Thursday 3 November, 10:00-11:30 AM Japan Time (JST)
What can a single jar tell us about how objects acquired history and meaning within Japanese tea culture? The Freer Gallery recently acquired a tea-leaf storage jar named Chigusa. In so doing, the museum became yet another participant in a seven-century-long process, through which a Chinese jar came to Japan and was transformed into a famous and much-admired container for tea leaves, even acquiring a personal name. Tea masters’ diaries and connoisseur’s handbooks described and ranked it; successive owners endowed it with Chinese brocades, silk cords, inscriptions, documents, and multiple boxes. Chigusa has been described as a “time capsule”— an embodiment of the fascinating and complex process by which tea-related objects accrued meaning and value.
Four scholars gathered in Washington recently—in the inspiring presence of Chigusa—to consider aspects of the jar’s story. They will share their thoughts and discoveries, and then engage in discussion with participants.
- Louise Allison Cort, Curator for Ceramics, Freer|Sackler
How a Chinese jar became Chigusa; how Chigusa came to the Freer
- Takeuchi Jun’ichi, Director, Hosokawa Collection–Eisei Bunko
How did tea men look at Chigusa 400 years ago?
- Andrew Watsky, Princeton University
- Oka Yoshiko, Otemae University
Who owned Chigusa