Exhibition: Drunk on Sobriety – Wine and Tea in Chinese Art (Museum of East Asian Art Cologne)

Date of event:   13/11/2019 − 16/08/2020

Exhibition title: Drunk on Sobriety – Wine and Tea in Chinese Art
Duration: November 13, 2019 to August 16, 2020
Location: Museum of East Asian Art Cologne, Germany

This showcase exhibition presents ceramics, lacquerware, paintings and calligraphy that bear witness to the great esteem in which tea drinking is held in China. Since the late Neolithic period, wine made from fermented grain has been a further highly popular tipple. Contrasting with wine’s intoxicating effect, savouring multiple bowls of tea made users „drunk on sobriety“.

The museum presents bronze and ceramic sacrificial wine vessels as used in ancestor worship. Tang Dynasty (7th–9th century) poetry celebrated wine’s stimulating effect and the creative inspiration afforded by tea drinking. Eccentric artists during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (14th – early 20th century) conjured up calligraphic versions of the famous poems with forceful brushstrokes. Exquisite Chinese tea ceramics and powdered green tea whipped to a froth were developed in Chan (J. Zen) Buddhist monasteries and in elite literary circles during the Song Dynasty (10th–13th century). Japanese monks who made pilgrimages to China to study Chan Buddhism brought the art of tea drinking to Japan, where it was perfected by tea master Sen no Rikyu in the 16th century. That means that the origins of the Japanese tea ceremony are to be found in China!

People enjoying these beverages appear in virtually all representations of Chinese pastimes. Wine and tea are back in fashion again in modern China: as well as imbibing wine created from pressed grapes, drinkers also enjoy an exhilarating buzz from sinfully expensive teas, such as Pu-erh, White tea or Baozhong tea.

For more information please see the website here.