Archive for June, 2011

An evening with Victor Mair

9th century Fiestaware

Dr. Victor Mair is a linguist.  What can a linguist offer to further the study of tea?

In 1998, his book, “The True History of Tea,” co-written with Erling Hoh, was a month from completion when he learned of a shipwreck being excavated in the Java Sea.  What’s known as the “Belitung wreck,” named for the nearby Indonesian island, turned out to be the most important archaeological discovery in southeast Asia: a ninth-century Arab trading vessel loaded with Chinese export porcelain.  And one of these bowls bore this inscription: 荼盞子.

“Tea-bowl (thingy).”  It was the capstone of his research.

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