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A Tea Bowl

These days, Japanese people call tea bowls “chawan”, which literally means “tea bowl”.  This seems very logical, but “chawan” had different meaning in the past.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, the bowls used for tea drinking at monasteries were not called “tea bowls”, but rather kensan or tenmoku.

This is because “tea bowls”, chawan, meant all glazed ceramics and pottery imported from China in those days. For example the phrase “a tea bowl bottle” is found in a text written before the 12th century. The “tea bowl bottle” must have been a bottle made of glazed ceramics imported from China.

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