Murata Shuko is said to be the founder of wabi-cha (tea of quiet taste). We have no certain record of his life, but it is said that he was from Nara and that he was at first a Buddhist priest. But later he lived in Kyoto and made a fortune as a merchant.
He is said to be the founder of wabi-cha because of the important letter 'Kokoro no fumi' (Letter on mastery of the mind) which he left behind. 'Kokoro no fumi' suggests that chanoyu is a spiritual path that brings about the development of a human being. In this one can see a religious influence, particularly that of Zen. Shuko was a close friend of Ikkyu and it is said that he received the Engo no Bokuseki from Ikkyu which also speaks of Shuko's Zen influence. In the 'Kokoro no fumi' Shuko writes that the line between Japanese and Chinese utensils should be dissolved. Until that time the focus had been on Chinese utensils (karamono). Instead, Shuko was concerned with how to harmonize Japanese utensils with Chinese utensils to create a new kind of beauty. Also Shuko left these words, 'A moon which is not behind clouds is disagreeable', meaning that a moon that appears and disappears behind the clouds is more beautiful than a brilliant full moon. This aesthetic of deficiency is central to the wabi-cha that Shuko created.

Back Page     21     bt_next_2.gif