• by vinux

The Chinese regard tea as the “drink of the gentleman”, for in their eyes it leads to virtue, illuminates the heart and cultivates righteousness.

Therefore, tea has been loved by the Chinese people since ancient times. Over time, it has formed a rich and varied tea culture.

Not only is the culture reflected in the tea itself, but also in the teaware. Gongdao cup is a great example of this.

The Gongdao cup has been around since the Ming Dynasty, but initially it wasn’t used as a teaware but rather a container for alcoholic drinks.

The Gongdao cup for tea art was introduced to mainland China from Taiwan in the 1970s. The Gongdao cup used as a tea set differs from the ancient one, but the rich and unique connotations remain unchanged in it.

In the Western Han Dynasty’s “Book of Rites·Liyun”, it was mentioned that: The great way travels, and is fair to all under heaven.

It expresses an ideal society of harmony, where the world is shared by everyone.

The ideal of a fair and just society is something that Chinese people have been striving for, and this kind of thinking is reflected in their daily lives. It can be seen in literature, drama, even a tea set – such as the Gongdaobei.

The Cup of Fairness, named after fairness, is naturally associated with the concept of fairness.

People who have brewed tea before know that no matter whether it is brewed with a lid bowl or a teapot, the strength of the tea soup always varies due to time differences when it comes out.

In order to even out the tea soup, people pour the steeped tea into a communal cup to mix before pouring it back out into individual cups. This way everyone gets the same level of concentration. The idea of mixing and then pouring follows Confucian thoughts of “balance for use” and “harmony”.

The Gongda Cup is the carrier of a “harmonious” mindset, and it is also an embodiment. Of course, this approach is most equitable and does not violate the name of fairness.

Tracing the history of the Gong Dao Cup, during the Ming Dynasty, the county official in order to curry favor with Zhu Yuanzhang commanded local porcelain workers to make the “Nine Dragon Cup”. The cup was exquisitely made such that when filled with wine, it would only be level and not overfilled. If overfilled, it would leak and nothing would be left behind.

However, the emperor was unaware of the consequences; he deliberately filled the cup of his beloved courtier with wine at the banquet, only to have it backfire.

This gave Zhu Yuanzhang the revelation of “rule the people on behalf of the monarch, be impartial and do not be partial”.

Later, Zhu Yuanzhang renamed the “Nine Dragon Cup” to the “Fair Cup”, implying fairness in the cup.

At the same time, this idiom also implies the truth of “contentment is wealth, greed means ruin”, which reminds people to be fair in their dealings and not to be greedy.

Re-viewing the present day, the gongdao cup which is used for tea art is similar to the mouthless open teapot, but some changes have been made in its opening part so that it is more convenient to pour tea into the cup.

Generally, cups are made of transparent glass for two reasons. First, transparent cups can better observe the color of soup; second, only transparency can best reflect the meaning of fairness, justice and selflessness.

A cup of tea embraces the world, a pot contains endless possibilities.

China has a long and profound history of tea culture. Even just a single cup of tea has numerous meanings and connotations that cannot be fully expressed.