Aug 28, 2008

What’s in the package?

The Japanese are famous for packaging. Gifts are exquisitely wrapped; even candies come in unique and intriguing packages. From simple paper wrappings to elaborate cloth bags and wooden boxes, this packaging may seem redundant. But isn’t it nice to unwrap a treasure, layer by layer to admire and appreciate the time and effort somebody went to give you this experience? The more valuable the treasure, the more elaborate the packaging.

Utensils for Chado are traditionally packaged,too. Most often you will see teabowls, cold water jars, kettles in wooden boxes wrapped with woven ribbons. Often there is writing on the boxes, with a paper cover to help protect the writing. Please don’t mistake these boxes for packing boxes and throw them away. Some utensils given to the Japanese Garden were unpacked by someone inexperienced with these packages and were thrown away. The writing on the outside often tells what is inside them, who made them and often the lineage of the piece. We have some beautiful utensils, but know nothing about them or their history. It is these things that tea people want to know when you use the utensils. Where it came from, who made it and how it came to be in your hands.

There is an art to tying the ribbons on the boxes so that the knots are flat. The boxes often have recessed bottoms so that a flat knot will allow you to stack them and store them. To help you out, here is a video on how to tie a box.

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