Feb 2, 2010

The favored style

Konomimono literally means favored things. It is a general term for tea items that owe their designs to eminent chanoyu masters, including all the successive heads of the various chanoyu families. The fact that a certain item is a certain person's konomimono is described, for example, as Rikyu-gonomi, or favored by Sen Rikyu. Besides utensils, konomimono extends to such things as sweets, and matcha tea blends. The tea blend is given a poetic name by the chanoyu master whose kononmimono it is. For example, the tea "kashin no mukashi" or auspicious era, by Kanbayashi is a Zabosai konomi. That is, it is favored by Zabosai, present generation grand tea master of the Urasenke school.

This winter we have been using the Yoshino-dana.  It is a tana or tea shelf for displaying tea utensils with one upper shelf and four posts.  It is an Ennosai-gonomi.  Ennosai is the 13th generation grand tea master of the Urasenke school.  Ennosai got the idea for this tana from the round windo of a tearoom used by the famous courtesan, Yoshino Dayu (1606-1643).  The posts are very thin logs of Yoshino cypress.  On the guests' side, a round window is cut in the panel, while on the other side, a small removable panel of shoji is inserted in the winter, and a panel of reeds in the summer.  Across the bottom of the back is a strip of wood with a comb shaped cutout.  The tana is finished in Tame nuri, a rich red-brown lacquer. After the lacquer has been applied the artist has cut the corners of the legs back to the wood. The upper shelf measures approximately 33 cm square and overall the height is 47.2 cm.  There is a bamboo peg at the top of the front left post, for hanging a haboki (feather duster), shifuku (silk pouch) or hishaku (bamboo water scoop).

Here is the Yoshinodana displayed in the furo season.  I love this tana because it allows the guests to see the mizusashi and in the summer it changes its character when you put the reed screen in the left side instead of shoji. With the hanging peg you can display a number of utensils so that the guests can enjoy them. You can see in the photo above,  the hishaku hanging on the peg, and the futaoki (lid rest) is displayed on the bottom shelf to the front left of the mizusashi.  When the host comes back into the room to refill the mizusashi, the futaoki must be removed and put on the tatami. Then the mizusashi can be brought all the way out of the tana and set on the tatami before it can be refilled. 

A close up of the bamboo hanging peg.  The skin is still left on the peg and it faces up.