The character Adamantina in Cao Xueqin's The Story of the Stone is perhaps best-known for her two-fold cultivation: firstly, her religious cultivation; and secondly, her cultivation in matters for aesthetics and taste. The first time she is mentioned in the novel, we are told that she is an unshaved nun (I.17.351). However, the first time she appears in person in the novel (II.41.311-316), it is rather her extreme refinement in material culture and taste that we are struck by: she not only owns things that may well be more valuable than anything [in the Jia] household, but is also able to get away with scorning Dai-yu for her vulgarity. Hence, an inconsistency arises between Adamantina's immersion in earthly extravagance and conventional religious modesty, and this research paper seeks to explore this paradox. In responding to this problem, I will focus on this very scene when she first appears, especially on a few of the objects that come up during the sequence. The little covered tea-cup of Cheng Hua enamelled porcelain (II.41.312)
There appears to be a consensus that of all the porcelain that the Ming dynasty has produced, those of the Xuan De (1426-35) and Cheng Hua (1465-87) periods are the most precious. Some have even asserted that the Cheng Hua period has produced the best enameled porcelain , including numerous contemporaneous Ming dynasty sources. Thus, a pair of Cheng Hua cups cost 100 000 cash coins at the start of the seventeenth century , which would roughly maintain a middle-class household for a year . In fact, the Cheng Hua period is known exactly for the kind of enamelled porcelain that Adamantina offers to Grandmother Jia and later wants to dispose of, after it has been contaminated by Grannie Liu. Therefore, on the surface, Adamantina's possession of such an item adds to her elevated materialism.
[...] However, despite all these associations with Buddhism, especially Zen Buddhism, that tea has—as an aid to stay awake during meditation, and for ceremonial purposes—never once does Adamantina use tea for such occasions. Instead, she uses tea to entertain guests (II -316 and III ) and while she plays Go with Xi-chun In other words, Adamantina drinks tea only when engaging in earthly activities such as socializing, and never when she is meditating or fulfilling a religious role. The fact that the author has chosen to make her drink tea only under such circumstances, despite the ease of doing otherwise (using tea for religious purposes), casts doubt on her religious sincerity. [...]
[...] There were even prescriptive writings, such as the Qinggui (清规), a code of rules for monastic life compiled during the Tang and Song dynasties, which included many rubrics for the ceremonial use of tea. Then, the Zen Buddhist master Baizhang Huaihai (百丈怀海) compiled the Baizhang qinggui (百丈清规), which then went on to inspire subsequent sets of monastic rules, in particular the Chixiu baizhang qinggui (敕修百丈清规) (edited around 1335). This latter code gave prominent attention to the ceremony' (茶礼), which included memorial services for the founder, induction of a new abbot, and the like. [...]
[...] Therefore, on the surface, Adamantina's possession of such an item adds to her elevated materialism. However, what might be more interesting is that this kind of Cheng Hua cup, together with its period name, was freely copied after the Cheng Hua era, and this includes during the Qian Long 乾隆 (1736-95) period of the Qing dynasty, around which time the novel was written. This fact is of interest to us because it is, in a way, a double-edged sword: on the one hand, counter-intuitively, it can reinforce Adamantina's refinement and status as a connoisseur, because at times, the true authenticity of an item did not matter to Chinese connoisseurs; it was rather a consensus amongst them that defined what was ‘genuine', and hence lent them prestige. On the other hand, however, the possible fakeness of the Cheng Hua cup can also be interpreted, ironically enough, as a hint at Adamantina's hypocrisy in claiming Buddhist non-attachment to the material realm. [...]
[...] However, as much as some people took this to be a way to gain immortality, others have also interpreted it as a way of “being in the world”—that is to say, contenting oneself with the earthly realm, the very thing that Adamantina does not want to do, and yet does. Thus, as much as there have been these various ways in which tea has been linked to Buddhism, Zen, or at least some form of ‘religious enlightenment', there have also been other ways in which tea has been linked to more earthly, material matters: taste, socializing, sensual pleasure—and it is for these latter purposes that Adamantina uses tea. [...]
[...] Research paper on the story of the stone: Adamanrina's cultivation The character Adamantina in Cao Xueqin's The Story of the Stone is perhaps best-known for her two-fold cultivation: firstly, her religious cultivation; and secondly, her cultivation in matters for aesthetics and taste. The first time she is mentioned in the novel, we are told that she is an “unshaved 带发修行 However, the first time she appears in person in the novel (II it is rather her extreme refinement in material culture and taste that we are struck by: she not only owns things that well be more valuable than anything [in the Jia] household”, but is also able to get away with scorning Dai-yu for her vulgarity. [...]
using our reader.