Tea and Qin Music

Wenzhuo Liu

Good news for English and Chinese readers: the related article has been published, the “Tea’s Smoke and Qin’s Rhyme 茶烟琴韵” <Coffee Tea & I> Vol. 82 in English and Chinese.

Tea’s bitterness can clear the heart, Qin’s low and deep sounds can calm the mind down “茶苦可清心,古琴低沉可静心“, playing Qin (Guqin), tasting tea… several tea friends listen to the dialogue between Qin and tea, tuning Qin, boiling water and infusing tea. In a certain sense, there are many similarities between these two kinds of treasures with profound cultural heritage. Tea has a very long history, even before the beginning of human civilization, Qin, one of the oldest plucked string instruments in China, it has been popular since the time of Confucius with a history of more than 4000 years. Because Qin music style belongs to the quiet, virtual quiet, deep quiet, and so on static beauty. This is why Guqin is most suitable for playing in the dead of night, because such an environment can match the style of Qin music and the artistic conception it pursues. Tea and Guqin have very similar temperament, so in a tea ceremony performance, Guqin is generally chosen. When we clean our hearts, we do not simply drive away the external fatigue, but use Qin, emotion, tea, and Tao to drive away the turbid Qi in our hearts, and then cultivate our body and mind, so as to achieve a truly transcendent spiritual enjoyment. Ancient Chinese literati loved Qin and tea, playing Qin and drinking tea became a vivid portrayal of the life of literati and scholars, both of them can cultivate people’s character, temperament and sentiment, and meditate on Buddhism and Taoism, so as to achieve spiritual enjoyment and personality’s transcendence.

琴里知闻唯渌水,茶中故旧是蒙山” from Bai Juyi’s poem <Qin and Tea 琴茶>, the poet is proficient in music and rhythm, <Lu Shui 渌水> is a Guqin tune loved by him the most, he mentioned this music coud peace his mind. The second sentence is about tea, his old friends or old acquaintances is Mengshan 蒙山 tea, which is produced in Mingshan County of Yazhou (now belongs to Sichuan Province) Mengding Mountain area. The poet holds this tea to show his detached thought, it is said that during the Western Han Dynasty, Zen Master Wu Lizhen planted seven immortal tea plants in Ganlu Temple of Qingfeng, Mengding, and drank them to become the Earth Immortal. Read More

Tuning Qin and Sipping Tea 调琴啜茗图 – Zhou Fang

The picture of “tuning Qin and sipping tea 调琴啜茗图”, it is easy to understand “tuning the Qin”, but what is “sipping tea”? We all talk about “drinking tea” and “tasting tea”, but we seldom say “sipping tea”. Let the tea soup and air roll in the mouth to drink, this is “sipping “. Why sip? Because the tea is very hot. We know that the way of drinking tea in the Tang Dynasty is different from that of brewing tea today, but cooking tea. The temperature of tea soup is naturally very high. The beauty in the painting obviously didn’t wait for the tea to cool, which can be seen from their tea drinking posture. Three noble ladies sitting in the courtyard are tuning the Qin, tasting tea and listening to music under the service of two maids, the lady in red playing Qin on a stone bench beside the osmanthus tree in the garden, it shows the leisure and peaceful life of noble women. Autumn is here, ladies seem to have a premonition that after the flowering season, what they are facing will be withering.

Stop Qin and Sipping Tea Drawing 停琴啜茗图 – Chen Hongshou

Tea Tasting Scroll 品茶图轴 is also callled Stop Qin and Sipping Tea Drawing 停琴啜茗图, two people sit opposite each other, as if they were a host and a guest. The banana leaves pave the ground, the host sits on it, the side place teapot, the furnace charcoal fire is blazing. Guest sit on a strange stone, and another strange stone for the Qin stage, Guqin has been packed in the brocade set. At this time, the strings are resting, the tea is ready, two people holding tea cup, four eyes looking at each other, smelling fragrance and sipping tea, as if the Qin music is still there. The pleasure is left to the reader’s reverie. After reading Chen Hongshou’s Tea Tasting Scroll, at least three informations about the tea ceremony in Ming Dynasty can be found. Read More

Place a Qin beneath a Plum Tree 梅下横琴图 – Du Jin

Place a Qin beneath a Plum Tree 梅下横琴图 describes the scene of literati playing Qin under the plum blossom, old plum tree is like a dragon in the sky, and the red plum blossoms. In a close-up view of the terrace built by the high mountains, an old man sits against the old plum tree, admiring the plum while playing the Qin, accompanied by two children, a boy boils tea and serves it in a tea bowl. The literati of Ming Dynasty are passionate in this temperament, the combination of poetry and painting leads to the Du Jin’s ideal state of straightforward and outstanding and detached from the world.

Jade Cave Immortal Source Drawing 玉洞仙源图 – Qiu Ying

This painting <Jade Cave Immortal Source Drawing 玉洞仙源图> by Qiu Ying in the Ming Dynasty depicts the immortal paradise on earth far away from the world, and shows the ideal seclusion environment of the literati. Among the peaks on the top of the mountain, there are houses looming in the forest, and there are water pavilions built on it in the stream at the middle of the mountain. At the foot of the mountain is a huge karst cave, there is a gurgling stream flowing out of the cave. On the rock outside the cave, there is a senior scholar sits with his knees crossed in front of the stream. He is surrounded by pines and cypresses, when he stops playing Qin, he is immersed in the beauty of nature, this should be the theme of the painting. He is not lonely, behind him, the servants are busy cooking tea, serving dishes and displaying antiques, one servant is crossing the bridge to bring more teawares.  

Qin Player Drawing 琴士图 – Tang Yin

A Qin player sits among the pines, springs and rocks, caresses the strings, and the stream is murmuring, which seems to be in harmony with the music of the Qin. The player Yang Jijing is a native of Wu, his father Yang Shousu is good at playing Qin. Jijing, who is as well-known as his father, deals among the officials with Qin and is friendly with Tang Yin and Wen Zhengming. Among the mountains, rocks and pines, a number of servants are busy cooking tea, they are scattered on the ground with books, brushes, inkstones and antiques. It seems that they have moved the elegant scholars’ study outdoors. Yang Jijing, the protagonist in the painting, is dressed as a symbol of Gao Shi (sage), sitting barefoot by the water, facing the river and playing the Qin with a leisurely and serene look. It seems that the audiences can imagine that the music will follow the gaze of the zither player and the direction of the trickling waterfall flowing in the open water.

Good news for English and Chinese readers: the related article has been published, the “Tea’s Smoke and Qin’s Rhyme” <Coffee Tea & I> Vol. 82 in English and Chinese.

<Coffee Tea & I> Vol. 82

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