Enjoy Life over the Fragrance of Tea
Arumjigi is happy to present its annual exhibition on tea this year. This is its third exhibition on food following Korean Food Vessels and Table Settings in 2006 and Dosirak Lunchbox: Joyful Meal in 2009. Through the exhibition this year, Becoming One with Tea, Arumjigi presents Korean tea and light refreshments that can be enjoyed in modern society. It is inspired by the tea and culture surrounding the drinking of tea that the Koreans long ago partook of while enjoying nature, and suggests ways of enjoying them in the most natural and comfortable way. This exhibition is far more than a visual experience. It involves the stories being told everyday at the Anguk-dong Arumjigi Hanok and Korean tea culture that can be enjoyed by everyone, man or woman, young or old.
Suggestions on Tea by Arumjigi
Tea culture has developed in Korea, China, and Japan over an extraordinarily long period of time. The Koreans have developed the widest variety of teas of all. It would not be too much to say that the Koreans have made tea from every part of plants man can eat, from roots to fruits. Any plant grown in Korea, a country with four distinct seasons and seventy percent mountainous, can be used as a source of tea, and the Koreans have long considered tea as a means to restore health. The culture, which considers even a cup of tea as reinvigorating sustenance has been upheld in modern Korean society. When drinking a cup of tea, we inquire what it is made from and how it is good for us. However, people who ask such questions do not have a proper understanding of tea. What is important is oneself drinking tea rather than drinking tea because it is effective for high blood pressure or a headache. How to drink tea is more important than what tea to drink. If you have a headache, aspirin should relieve the pain immediately. Tea is not medicine. What is important is to become one with tea while drinking tea, and to become one with drinking tea.
Refreshments to Serve with Tea
Arumjigi presents refreshments that are easy for everyone to make and that are to be served with tea at this exhibition. Together with food experts, we have strived to find a way to revive traditional taste with ingredients that are readily available to everyone. Presented at this exhibition are light refreshments that may go with tea on the table for the whole family, snacks that are suitable replacements for sweet cookies for children (for whom eating habits are especially important), those that are good with tea to greet neighbors, and those good to share at the office and during meetings. Also suggested are refreshments to replace popcorn and soda at movie theaters, those suitable to serve in cultural spaces, on flights, on trains, and at expressway rest areas. Arumjigi expects that twelve kinds of refreshments that are products of love and care, traditional taste, and everyday wit will be created after helping to bring the joy of becoming one with tea in our everyday lives.
Traditional Culture, Tea for the Ancestral
The custom of worshiping one's ancestors is disappearing even in China, the country where tea originated, and in Japan, a country that is very proud of its traditional tea ceremony. Of the three Far Eastern countries, only Korea still widely practices its ancestral rite today. In order to keep the wealth of tradition and wisdom handed down from our ancestors for a long time to come, we need to ensure that we are practicing the ancestral rite properly. The ancestral rite upholds the identity of the family, and it is a manifestation of the philosophy of the Korean people, who treasure their roots. Ancestral memorial services performed on New Year's Day and Chuseok are characterized as 'holding a ceremony with tea.' Unlike ancestral rituals performed in the late afternoon, the rituals on New Year's Day and Chuseok are held in the morning. Head families who offer tea set a ceremonial table very simply without jeon (pancake) or meat dishes. They show respect to their ancestors by offering jujubes, chestnuts, pears, dried persimmons, dasik (pattern-pressed candy), and songpyeon (half-moon shaped rice cake)/tteokgkuk (sliced rice pasta soup), and a cup of tea. Some families offer tea instead of scorched-rice water at the ancestral ritual held at night. The idea of offering tea at rituals may seem strange to us in modern society, but we should note the meaning and spirit of a cup of tea offered on the ceremonial table. We should see that such great love and care in the hands of descendants of head families who grow a tea tree and make ritual vessels all the year round to perform the ritual that expresses the utmost possible respect for their ancestors are more valuable than anything else in this world. Thinking that we can contain our respect and care for our ancestors even in a cup of tea and a dish of dasik, Arumjigi suggests a table setting for the ancestral rite that enables us to continue this time-honored custom in modern society in a wise and beautiful way.
Tea Cups that Embody Tea Culture
Arumjigi aspired to picture a scene of enjoying tea and becoming one with tea naturally and comfortably in our daily lives through this exhibition. Arumjigi believed it necessary to create a specific form of tea cup in detail that would embody tea culture that is appropriate for the modern lifestyle. In so doing, Arumjigi also sought to preserve the comfortable tea drinking atmosphere enjoyed by the Koreans for many ages while they appreciated nature and the changing seasons. Featured at this exhibition are tea cups made of wood, silver, tin, glass, and ceramics by thirty artists who have focused on the charms inherent to each material. These cups have the outer appearance and are full of the wit and sentiments that represent modern tea culture. The artists spent a great deal of time and energy reinterpreting traditional Korean tea cups to produce these pieces for us, while preserving the texture and stable proportion of traditional tea cups.
Designs Embodying Tea
"Our Korean design has been dressed in Western style. Now, it is time for Korean design to show its face in its own right with its own body and mind. This is its formative beauty with individuality. This is its original look and its true look. Its body is functionality suited to the Koreans’ needs, and it represents the Korean way of life. Its mind refers to the Korean identity. Only when we attempt to create harmony based on such origin and identity on the global scene will Korean design truly be recognized by the international community. Industrialization began in the West. Now is time for the Koreans to make it a Korean thing. Although industrialization and modernization are at the heart of modern society, man has already reached the materialistic limit. One way to overcome the limit is to revive the Korean identity. This is the most important task where a designer can take the lead."