An article takes you to know the story of Gaiwan


Let's invite Lin Daiyu, the protagonist of "A Dream of Red Mansions", to demonstrate the classical usage of Gaiwan. The 1987 edition of the Red Chamber was very finely shot. There was another scene before Yingchun drinking tea and using the lid to skim the floating tea, and this scene is Daiyu entering the Rongguo Mansion as a guest. This action was omitted and just used put the lid against the rim of the bowl and drink tea. This is another etiquette of using a Gaiwan, and you can't skim the tea when you are away - it means that the host's tea is not good.

The advantage of Gaiwan is that it is not hot. The origin of this goes back to the Tang Dynasty. The eldest lady of Cui Ning's family think that the tea bowl was hot, so she glued the bowl to the saucer. This is the predecessor of Gaiwan, called Tuozhan or Tuozi. Cui Ning served as Jiedushi around 770, which should be the approximate time when Tuozhan appeared. Among the treasures buried in the underground palace of Famen Temple in 875, there is a glass holder, which is the earliest real object that can be verified by time.

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The Yue Kiln and Xing Kiln in the Tang Dynasty, and the Jun Kiln and Ding Kiln in the Song Dynasty all have Tuozhan. Most of these Tuozhan are connected with tea cups and trays. People in the Song Dynasty liked to compare tea art, and used black-glazed bamboo hat-shaped cups to hold tea. At that time, the development of Tuozhan was stagnant, and the Gaiwan that was really suitable for making tea appeared is in the Ming Dynasty.

The Gaiwan at this time were deeper than those in the Tang and Song dynasties, which were suitable for storing tea leaves, but they had a lid but no bottom support. 

Probably in the late Ming or early Qing Dynasty, the Gaiwan was added to the tray and became a Gaiwan in the modern sense. The tray is used to prevent scalding, so it may not be so if you think about it. For example, if you pick up a cup of tea that is hot, it will definitely burn your mouth when you drink it. Why do you have to hold it? Will definitely let it cool for a while before drinking. Therefore, the core value of the tray is more of a sense of ritual.

The Gaiwan was born in noble family, and it was also a tool of the upper class in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Among the many tea utensils, the Gaiwan is the most difficult to use. You need to use two hands, and the movements are slow and calm. It looks elegant and luxurious, but in fact it is afraid that the bowl will fall from the support. The upper class likes to play these things that have technical thresholds, and ordinary people can't easily learn them. By the middle of the Qing Dynasty, Gaiwan had become the standard equipment of officials and eunuchs, and wealthy families followed.

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Until the Republic of China, the Congress of Beijing gave birth to a new tea set. Hundreds of councilors sat together for a meeting, each with a Gaiwan in front of them. At this time, the weak point of the Gaiwan was exposed. The capacity was too small. Hundreds of people wanted to add water and change the leaves. Dozens of waiters rushed to the scene. The scene was chaotic, so the Congress passed a motion to make the tea bowl bigger.

This task was handed over to Jingdezhen. At that time, there was a Jiangxi Porcelain Company who found inspiration in an old warehouse. It was such a thing:

Isn't this a mug? Yes, Jingdezhen has been making mugs since the Ming Dynasty, but they are all shipped directly for export. Mugs were invented by the Egyptians in the Pyramid Age, mainly for drinking hot drinks, such as beer - yes, beer was hot at that time. Later, it spread to Europe, and the materials were wood, metal, etc., and the Ming Dynasty began to order porcelain from China.

Jiangxi Porcelain Company added a cover to the mug to keep it warm, named it the Prime Minister, and called it the Zhongshan Cup. Because the body of the cup is straight, also known as the Zhongshan tube, this is the first time the Chinese use a teacup with a handle.

In 1958, the State Council ordered teacups for office use. Liling Porcelain Factory improved the Zhongshan cup, and the bottom foot was made into an inward curve, which was called Jiefang Cup. Later, many styles of office cups were developed, all of which were based on Zhongshan cups and Jiefang cups.

After the office cup became the mainstream, the Gaiwan transformed itself and began to function as a teapot. Now it is impossible to verify when this usage started, it is estimated that it was in Guangdong in the late Qing Dynasty. Compared with the teapot, the advantage of the Gaiwan is that it is easy to clean, especially the large-leaf tea dregs such as oolong, which are very troublesome to clean out from the pot. Another point is to cover the bowl to dissipate heat, so as not to suffocate the leaves.

Today's Gaiwan are basically used for tea, which is equally as good as the purple clay pot. Moreover, from one Gaiwan for each person to one shared by many people, the weak connection becomes a strong connection, and the joy of being alone is not as good as that of others.

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