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Tang Dynasty Tea Poetry

Lecture by James A. Benn
Friday, June 2, 2017
Time: 2:00p
Location: Allen 140

The values associated with tea today— that it is natural, health-giving, detoxifying, spiritual, stimulating, refreshing, and so on— are not new concepts. We find them already in the poetry of the Tang dynasty (618-907). In tea poetry we can catch a glimpse of the cultural synergy created by literati, poets, and Buddhist monks gathering to share and construct new standards of connoisseurship and creativity, as well as to develop new themes and imagery. Surviving poems describe the color, aroma, and taste of the beverage; methods for preparing tea; the shape of teaware; settings for drinking tea; appreciation of the various aesthetic, medicinal, and psychoactive qualities of the beverage; as well as the world of tea growing, picking, and preparation.

Professor James A. Benn was trained primarily as a scholar of medieval Chinese religions (Buddhism and Taoism). His current research is aimed at understanding the practices and world views of medieval men and women, both religious and lay, through the close reading of primary sources in literary Chinese—the lingua franca of East Asian religions.

Presented by the UO Confucius Institute for Global China Studies and cosponsored by Portland State University.