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Season to share precious feelings with friend

Posted April. 03, 2023 07:59,   

Updated April. 03, 2023 07:59


Wandang Gim Jeong-hui who was exiled to Jeju island and Myeongseon Cho-ui Seonsa who was a Zen priest and a pioneer of the tea culture were long-time friends. The two had different social statuses but shared deep friendship through art, study, and tea ceremony. This piece of writing titled ‘Myeongseon’ reflects the two friends’ affection for each other’s calligraphy and tea. It was produced by Wandang in his 50s and is considered to be the biggest and best calligraphy of his in existence.

Wandang praised the tea made by his friend, Myeongseon, by comparing it to the legendary Chinese teas, Mongolian tea, and Luya. He even said that a sip of the tea brought him to the state of Zen meditation.

I first encountered the piece at the first-floor exhibition hall of the Kansong Art Museum in Seongbuk-dong in the early summer of the early 1980s when I was a high school student. Large calligraphy that says ‘Myeongseon’ and the words written next to it filled my mind with passion.

Reaching the Zen state with a deep fascination for the tea gifted by a friend felt so beautiful. I mimicked Wandang’s calligraphy with a childlike mind. I practiced on the old papers of the Dong-A Ilbo, to which my family was subscribed, and was satisfied with myself.

Then-Cho-ui Seonsa to me at the time was an art historian named Suam Lee Won-bok. He was my catholic godfather who invited me to go see ‘Myeongseon.’ I would like to visit him today with a bottle of wine instead of tea with a mind like Wandang’s. It is such a perfect season to share precious feelings with an old friend. Cherry blossoms are in full bloom outside my window.