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Wistaria: A Taipei Historical Heritage Site

Wistaria Tea House is a place full of beauty and vitality, full of contradiction and experiment. The former tenant, Professor David Chow, introduced Western liberalism into Taiwan during the 1950s, transforming the house into a place for critical debate. The Japanese-style house was damaged by a typhoon in 1961. Afterwards, the front part was refurbished into a western-style edifice. Although the building embodies disparate architectural styles, the utensils, artworks and furniture are uniquely blended into a special aesthetic atmosphere.

In 1976, Chow Yu began to transform the house into a center for cultural activities. After the "Formosa Incident" in 1979 (the brutal crackdown of Taiwan's rising democratic movement), Wistaria Tea House became the meeting place for political dissenters and a new generation of artists. In 1981, Chow Yu opened Wistaria Tea House which deeply influenced the renaissance of tea culture in Taiwan. Wistaria Tea House successfully developed a new "way of tea" by creatively transforming Daoist aesthetics and the idea of self-cultivation traditionally cherished by Chinese literati within the sphere of consumer culture. Furthermore, it became a meeting place for social activists and critical scholars holding many symposiums and public discussions. This mixture gave Wistaria Tea House its unique atmosphere and cultural significance.

In 1997, Wistaria Tea House was declared a Taipei City historical site. In January of 2003, the Taipei City Cultural Bureau formally turned the operation of the teahouse over to the Wistaria Cultural Association, which heralded a new era for this "public space of Dao".


4104Wistaria: A Taipei Historical Heritage Site2011-08-0300:25:36Joey@muma.tw首頁 > 古蹟紫藤盧 > HistoryMsgAdv
Wistaria Tea Culture

Wistaria Tea Culture is an evolving aesthetic, an enchanting art and a noble method of cultivation. For those that come into contact with this culture and share in the subtle aroma of fine teas, it bears an abundant sense of comfort and inspiration. The Wistaria Tea House embodies a creative spirit, trying to mediate aesthetics and ethics in a contemporary practice of cultivation. In these turbulent times, it is important to create realms of critical distance and cultural resistance. The world of tea and its aesthetic of blandness open up a specific world of sensual and spiritual experience.

Wistaria Tea Culture strives to find meaning and vitality in every existing thing. In the world of tea, things are not merely utensils, but are endowed with a certain spirituality, giving them their own disposition and aesthetic. A dialogue between tea, the drinker and "heaven" allows the drinker to enter into a sort of correspondence with the environment. A pot of flowers, a painting on the wall, an open window, a place brimming over in elegance is the "heaven" in the world of tea. While the teapot, teacup, teaspoon are the utensils that make up its "earth". Man, heaven and earth correspond freely through the energy (Qi) of tea and thus creating a space of Dao out of the concentration of mind and body. There is a traditional Chinese notion of the heaven as round and the earth as square (symbolized by the square rice-fields); heaven is the formless space that envelopes man, while the earth is the tangible element which represents the norms of human life.

In contrast to the Japanese way of tea, the founder of Wistaria Tea House Chow Yu developed four principles which guide Wistaria Tea Culture: rightness, quietness, clarity and roundness. When beginning the way of tea, tea drinkers first place a square cloth on the table that acts as our earth. We then place our utensils on top and the ritual begins to take shape.

It is with "rightness", with attention on thoughts and movements right now where self-cultivation takes its start. "Quietness" allows you to rid yourself of vexation which is a condition for gaining "clarity" about one's own existence. Tea's revitalizing effect clears mind and body. "Roundness" signifies abundance, maturity and completeness. Rightness, quietness, clarity and roundness are ideals which may only be realized by the way through their opposites. That is why there are Chinese sayings like "the positive and the negative complete each other", "activity and quietness constitute each other", "the pure and the turbid agitate each other" and "the yin and the yang inlay each other".

Tea culture can be realized in the realm of everyday life. When guests come, a cup of tea is offered and conversation is extended. The world of tea is then passed on and becomes a form of interchange between friends. There is a sort of rich simplicity and abundant stillness through the ritual of fine tea drinking. The profundity of tea culture gives rise to joy and reflection, when one can be relaxed and yet serious enough to seek for a life more round, more complete. In some sense this individual effort may even introduce perspectives of alternative ways of life into a society that is largely ignorant of the "dialogue between nature and culture".
4106Wistaria Tea Culture2011-08-0300:30:58Joey@muma.tw首頁 > 古蹟紫藤盧 > HistoryMsgAdv
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