The Chitra Collection: Part 1

The Chitra Collection
The Satsuma region, in Kyushu in southern Japan, became famous in the West in the 19th century for its export tea wares. This circa-1890 set comprises a teapot and cover, sugar bowl, milk jug, and 12 cups and saucers, each representing the months of the year. All pieces are painted with flowers and figures involved in various pursuits.

Text by Jane Pettigrew • Photography Courtesy of N Sethia Foundation

As we brew our daily cups of tea using modern conveniences such as electric kettles, it is perhaps easy to forget that porcelain factories, jade workers, potters, and silversmiths have been designing and manufacturing tea wares for thousands of years. Their creations include tiny, highly decorative porcelain bowls; carved jade pots; enameled bowls and saucers; small unglazed earthenware teapots; elaborate silver tea sets and urns; and exquisite caddies in wood, silver, crystal, and curled paper work. Those precious objects are important not just as the work of skilled and talented designers, but because they tell the story of tea through the centuries. They explain who was drinking tea and during which period, the trading of tea between East and West, the way the leaves were brewed in different countries, how the tea liquor was served and drunk, and the various accoutrements required for the rituals of different nations.

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