Artefactual literacies and heritage

The poem 五更月 [five images of the moon] by Sino-Muslim scholar 劉智/刘智 [Liú Zhì] written on a fan used during a traditional tea ceremony. Produced by AYA, Kyoto, Japan. Shared by Dr Naoki Yamamoto (@NaokiQYamamoto)

Some literacy researchers refer to artefactual literacy as the study of literacy practices embedded in material cultural objects. Literacy practices that are connected to objects and physical experience are often key to heritage, in this case a fan that is used within a traditional tea ceremony.

According to Dr Naoki Yamamoto, a supporter and advisor for our project, “sadou (茶道)  is translated as ‘tea ceremony’ in English, but this may not be a correct translation. Sa(茶)  means tea and Dou (道) means the way. The Japanese tea ceremony is a way of spiritual practice to reach the truth by learning from a master how to serve tea to guests. In other words, the tea ceremony is kung fu! However, unless you know that kung fu is [a way of] Tarbiya al-Nafs [rectification/purification of the self], you will not be able to understand its true meaning”

Upon this fan is inscribed the poem 五更月 [five sessions of the moon] by 劉智/刘智 [Liú Zhì]. It is a poem which outlines the doctrines of Islam and the spiritual path (道 dao) to enlightenment (ḥaqīqa) with a structure and imagery that reflects a careful use of Daoist poetry and Buddhist narratives.

As religious texts that are instantiated in important objects to the point of being sometimes ‘invisible’, these Sino-Muslim heritage literacies are multimodal and spread over sociomaterial networks, and are therefore an important literacy object in our research.

More on 五更月 [five sessions of the moon] here:五更月/5140434


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