No Chinese Gongfu Cha tea ceremony is complete without a tea figurine. A small figurine made of clay or stone takes pride of place on the tea table among the tea utensils.
Tea figurines are often surprising to newcomers who first come to the Chinese tea ceremony. And when the master host of the ceremony fills the kettle with hot water and after a moment pours the long-awaited first brew on the statuette, many guests of the ceremony freeze with a mute question in their eyes.
In China, it is believed that the first tea leaves should be given to the tea deity, so that it brings happiness, good luck, health, wealth and other benefits. And the tea figurine symbolizes such a deity – the spirit of tea, present at the ceremony in its material form.
A tea figurine can represent an animal or a sign of the zodiac horoscope, a deity or a deified person (the figure of the famous author of the” Canon of Tea ” Lu Yu is very popular), a hero of Chinese folk legend, but it can also be just any funny figure placed on the shepherd to raise the mood.
Some tea figurines even change color, confirming the correct temperature of the water spilled on them. And there are those who let out trickles or inflate bubbles. During the tea ceremony, the tea figurine is usually placed facing the guests of the ceremony, so that the spirit of tea can see who to thank for the respect and gifts presented.
The most popular tea figurines:
Dragon – symbolizes strength and wisdom; Buddha – gives wealth and well – being; Buddha’s heels or Buddha’s Feet – a symbol of the desire for knowledge, the liberation of the soul from worldly attachments, a symbol of the comprehension of wisdom; Hottei – the deity of fun, embodying well – being, fun, communication, prosperity and carelessness; Lion – a symbol of divine power, power and greatness, brings health, good luck and happiness; Tiger-a symbol of nobility, strength and courage; Rat-the first animal to receive the blessing of the Buddha thanks to cunning, now represents wisdom and wealth; Horse – purposefulness in achieving the goal; Pig-bravery, self-sacrifice, loyalty to duty; Dog-a symbol of courage, courage, loyalty, justice and protection; Three-legged toad, often with coins – – the fulfillment of a wish, a symbol of wealth and prosperity.
You probably know about the three monkeys, this famous image, widely used in figurines and images: “I see nothing, I hear nothing, I say nothing.” This image originally came from Japan. In Japanese, it sounds like “mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru”. The word “dzaru” is consonant with the way the word “monkey” is pronounced in Japanese, so this idea began to be embodied in the image of monkeys. What is the idea behind these funny, at first glance, figurines?
The image of the three monkeys symbolizes the Buddhist idea of non-doing evil: “If I do not see evil, do not hear about evil, and do not say anything about it, then I am protected from it.” Sometimes a fourth monkey is added, symbolizing the principle of “do no evil” – it can be depicted covering the groin or stomach. Following these rules is the path leading to a calmer, happier, and more harmonious life. And figurines or images of monkeys are a reminder that we choose what to focus on-good or bad.