Pictorial History of Gaiwan

The gaiwan — bowl with a lid — has a unique place in tea usage in cultures of Chinese heritage. Click on any image below to enjoy a slideshow with captions on its lineage of development.


The captions in A Pictorial History of Gaiwan is an original research study by Leo Kwan at TeaGuardian.com. Copyrights © 2015 Leo Kwan

An insignificant-looking piece of equipment

We infuse tea in it as if it were a teapot. Some drink from it as a teacup. Many still use it for both purposes at the same time. Yet little has been documented about this little indispensable piece of teaware. In our first attempt to study the history of gaiwan basing on historical clues, we have found that its existence is inseparable from the evolution of tea itself.

Gaiwan: simply indispensable

This slide show is our first attempt to study how the gaiwan has come about. Please click on the first photo to begin the show.

There are a few recurring terms in the photo captions that maybe you would like a little more information about:

Cha zhan ( Chinese: 茶盞 ): tea bowl with a conical shape and usually used in conjunction with a receptacle “stand”, kind of like a cup on a saucer the old fashioned way.

Tuo ( Chinese: 托 ): the receptacle for a cha zhan or tea bowl, as in plant the receptacle for the flower. Some use the word stand, but since it is used as a handle, like the ear of a cup, so the term receptacle, which is attached to the flower, as it is attached to the bowl, is a bit more accurate. In Japanese and some Chinese, the character 台 is used, this refers to the manner of how some customs think of it as a stand rather than also as a handle.

Receptacle: see “tuo” above

For more information about the gaiwan, perhaps you’d like to visit these other articles:

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