The Tea Through the Ages: An Art of Living exhibition taken to Belgium by the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department as a programme of the Europalia.China 2009 Festival was officially opened yesterday (November 13) at the Royal Museum of Mariemont, Belgium.
In July 2008, the Chinese Ministry of Culture invited Hong Kong to participate in the Europalia.China 2009 Festival, marking a new high in cultural exchange between Belgium and China. The Museum of Tea Ware was subsequently invited to participate in the festival, so as to bring Chinese tea culture to European audiences. Launched in 1969, the Europalia is an important multi-disciplinary cultural festival held in Europe every two years, dedicated to introducing one major city or nation and its historical and cultural diversity.
Featuring 63 refined artefacts from the K.S. Lo Collection of the Museum of Tea Ware,Tea Through the Ages: An Art of Living will run from today (November 14) to February 21, 2010, at the Royal Museum of Mariemont, Belgium. The artefacts on display document the changes and developments in ways of making tea as well as decorating tea wares. Apart from the great variety of forms and glazes applied to ewers and tea bowls of the Tang and Song dynasties, the exhibition also features the refined teapots of the Ming dynasty, exquisite covered bowls of the Qing dynasty and a variety of styles of tea ware designated for export.Visitors are invited to explore the history of Chinese tea culture embodied in this bountiful heritage of tea ware.
The old Chinese citation chai, mi, you, yan, jiang, cu, cha (firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce, vinegar, tea) referred to the basic necessities of daily life for the Chinese. The last item tea is certainly an important part of Chinas intangible cultural heritage. Since its discovery and evolution from being used solely for medicinal or edible purposes to becoming a popular and enjoyable beverage locally and overseas, tea and tea-making have passed through more than 3,000 years of development. According to findings from recent chemical research on the decomposition and analysis of tea, more than 450 organic compounds can be identified. Tea is not merely good for quenching thirst, it is also recognised for its health-inducing qualities.
The passion for tea is not confined to the Chinese. It is also a popular drink in other countries. During the Tang period, tea was the main export to Korea and Japan, but small quantities of tea were also introduced to the countries of the Arabian peninsula from where it was re-exported to Europe. After the 17th century, Chinese tea and ceramic wares were ranked top among Chinese exports, showing the feverish demand for these two Chinese products. There are numerous ways to prepare and drink tea due to the various customs of different nations. Europeans, in pursuit of China porcelain tea ware, developed their own distinctive ceramic tea vessels. Nowadays, Chinese tea is exported to over 100 countries and regions across the world. Green and black teas are the most popular types for export. With the export of tea, the ways of writing and pronunciation of the Chinese word cha are distinct in different countries.