Tea Scoop, Named "Kame (Turtle)"

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Tea Scoop, Named "Kame (Turtle)"

ceramics / Edo

By Sugiki Fusai (1628–1706)

Edo period, 17th century

Bamboo

長18.2

1本

Most scoops used for scooping matcha, or powdered green tea, in the tea ceremony are made of bamboo. A tea master would make their own tea scoops to suit the occasion. The maker might inscribe their own name or signature on the tube used to store the scoop.

This piece was made by the 17th-century tea master Sugiki Fusai. Fusai was an apprentice of Sen no Sotan, a grandson of the renowned tea master Sen no Rikyu, who inherited Rikyu’s school of tea. When you look at a tea scoop, please pay attention to its knuckle, expression, and tip. To begin with, the position of the knuckle alters the overall impression of the scoop. Next, the “expression” refers to the pattern and texture of the wood, where variation-rich bamboo is preferred. Finally, the tip of the scoop is the bent end used to scoop tea. The maker’s idiosyncrasies are often visible in the tip.

The knuckle of this scoop is positioned near its middle, and has a somewhat flattened look. The surface below the knuckle is uneven, creating a pleasing contrast with the expression of the bamboo above it. Discoloration due to long years of use is also an expression of refinement. The tip is broad and looks as if it could hold a heaping scoop of powdered tea.

The origin of the signature “Kame (turtle)” is unknown, but it likely had an auspicious significance. Try to imagine the feelings that Fusai put into this tea scoop as you view it.

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