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Tea Containers as Heirlooms

A container of powdered tea leaves for thick tea is called a cha-ire in Japanese.

It is just a small and subdued bottle, normally about 7 cm high and with a brown glaze. They were originally containers for herbs and the like, and were used to pack them for export from China. Japanese people chose ones with particularly appealing forms or colors, and they came to be used as tea utensils at tea gatherings.

As time went by and chanoyu became popular among people, these containers for powdered tea came to be very valuable. One of the most powerful warrior lords, Oda Nobunaga, gave tea utensils as awards for service in war. This shows that a single tea container was sometimes as valuable as a domain in the Warring States Period, in 16th century Japan.

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