Interlude: Tea exhibition

This exhibition was curated in partnership with the Inter-island Tea Master’s Association.

 

46, small curved drinking vessel, wood
Acquisition by the Collections & Rescue team

Containers of this size and shape have typically been used as drinking vessels since the Near Sky period. They can be paired with a lid to keep the contents so it can be consumed at a later time or, as seen in more recent times, with attachments to broaden its functionality (for an example, visit item 97).

According to records collected by the Tea Master’s Association after the war, vessels of this type were how Sirens first built trust with humans after the war.  It was through sharing with each other that emergency teams were able to provide much needed water to the most devastated regions. The tea master’s pilgrimage replicates the journey these first tea masters took across the various island chains during this time of rebuilding.

 

85, shallow curved oval with a handle, ceramic and gold
Acquisition by the Collections & Rescue team

Usage of implements of this particular size to feed babies began in the Golden Feather period, particularly in the capital. During this time, the middle class began to emerge, threatening to dislodge the upper class in their privileged position in society. The upper class began indulging in items with a specific usage or made of rare materials to flaunt their wealth.  These items were often made, ironically, by middle class craftsman.

 

9, round lidded vessel with handle and spout on opposite sides, ceramic
On loan from the Tea Master’s Association

The designs on the surface of this vessel have been identified as a pictorial recording of a coming of age ceremony during a spring festival in the Far Sky period. The item on display was likely from Bara Island due to the various flowers depicted in the ornamentation. Copies of this vessel were likely given to each of the newly named adults depicted in the scene.

 

28, bag containing a small bowl and whisk, wood
Anonymous donation

While the decorative elements on this travel set point to the likelihood of it having been owned by a member of the upper class, it was those in the lower and middle class who started the trend of using these travel sets. In particular, they were used by those human sailors who worked with Sirens in order to make and share tea while at sea.

In more recent times, the bowl and whisk have been replaced by a tin shaker to mix ground tea more conveniently. This trend began in the Southern region due to the intermingling of the bartending and tea trades there. However, the traditional way of using the whisk to make tea is still carried on by the Denzou lineage.

 

87, vessel with two compartments, glass and Siren stone-salt mixture
On loan from the Tea Master’s Association

Automatic time measurers found their start in items such as these, though they have now moved on to a different variety of shapes and colors.  Even with these advancements, many lineages of craftsmen still use time measurers such as these to time their work. This item in particular measures the breath of a sleeping sea dragon, which is the measurement tea masters use to brew many of their teas.

Traditionally, one compartment is filled with sand. However, the item on display here is filled with a mixture typically handmade by Sirens and used to fill a keepsake item given to a loved one on the eve of a long journey.

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