An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Chaju tuzan 茶具圖贊

Sep 1, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Chaju tuzan 茶具圖贊 is an illustrated book on tools for the preparation of tea. It was compiled during the late Song period 宋 (960-1279) by a person dubbed Shen'an Laoren 審安老人, who was perhaps identical with Dong Zhenqing 董真卿, who is usually called a Yuan-period 元 (1279-1368) master, who wrote a commentary on the Classic Yijing 易經 "Book of Changes", Zhouyi huitong 周易會通, and whose studio name was Shen'an Shushi 審安書室.

The short book describes twelve different tools in the shape of "praises" (zan 贊) accompanying detailed images. The images show, with the particular designations in imitation of personal names, courtesy names and official ranks (Chaju shi'er xiansheng xingming zihao 茶具十二先生姓名字號),

Table 1. Personification of tea utensils
韋鴻臚 Minister of Dependencies Wei stove
木待制 Mu, Academician Awaiting Instructions mortar
金法曹 Jin, Administrator of the Law Section grinder
石轉運 Transport Commissioner Shi mill
胡員外 Vice Director Hu scoop for ladling hot water
羅樞密 Military Affairs Commissioner Luo sieve
宗從事 Gentleman for Attendance Zong swab
漆雕密(=祕)閣 Qidiao from the Imperial Archives tea bowl
陶寶文 Tao from the Hall of Treasuring Culture tea cup
湯提點 Superintendent Tang teapot
竺副帥 Vice Commander Zhu brush
司職方 Director of Operations Si towel

The language of the text demonstrated that it was written by a highly educated person familiar with the administrative terminology of the time. An optical and technical modernization of the text was carried out during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Mao Yixiang 茅一相. It is included in the series Xinshangbian 欣賞編 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

Figure 1. Image of a grinder
The "praise" has actually nothing to do with the grinder, but points at the medical functions of tea that resemble the Minister of Justice (facao) who brings back into order public life. The text roughly goes: "Even if [tea] is soft, it does not stink (or cause foul-smelling breath), and even if it is stringent, it does not cause nausea. For all cases [of illness and indisposition] it has a [positive] effect and brings everything back into its tracks and into orderliness. Is this not excellent?"
Chen Yuan 陳圓 (2018). "Chaju tuzan: Di yi bu chaju tupu zhuanzhu 《茶具圖贊》:第一部茶具圖譜專著", Tea Times (?), 2018 (3): 10-13.
Ding Yishou 丁以壽 (2009). "Chaju tuzan shujie 《茶具圖贊》疏解", Nongye kaogu 農業考古, 2009 (2): 99-103.
Lin Qianliang 林乾良 (2019). "Nansong Chaju tuzan jianjie 南宋《茶具圖贊》簡介", Chaye 茶葉, 2019 (2): 114-115.
Xu Hairong 徐海榮, ed. (2000). Zhongguo chashi dadian 中國茶事大典 (Beijing: Huaxia chubanshe), 590.
Yu Guojiang 余國江 (2017). "Chaju tuzan zuozhe Shen'an Laoren shikao 《茶具圖贊》作者“審安老人”試考", Nongye kaogu 農業考古, 2017 (5): 179-180.
Zhu Xinyi 朱心怡 (2014). "Chaju tuzan yanjiu 《茶具圖贊》研究", Xingda zhongwen xuebao 興大中文學報, 35: 1-125.