Chasen Whisk and Thread
Powdered green tea, ma-tcha, 抹茶, powder-tea, is mixed with hot water, yu, 湯, by using a cha-sen, 茶筅, tea-whisk. The chasen is made of a length of take, 竹, bamboo, including the fushi, 節, node, which indicates the growth direction. The standard length of a chasen is 3 sun kujira-jaku, 寸鯨尺, ‘inch’ whale-span, 11.3 cm or 4 ½ inches.
The root end is split into many hō, 穂, tine: kazu-ho, 数穂, multiple-tines. The tines are cut alternately wide and narrow, with the wider tines on the outside separated from the inner narrower tines by threads intertwined, ami-ito, 編み糸, braid-thread, around the outside tines.
The thread, ito, 糸, is made of mo-men, 木綿, wood-silk, cotton. The thread is made of different colors, and the most common color is kuro, 黒, black. The chasen used in the most formal offerings of Tea has white thread.
The thread is wrapped around the whisk three times. The threads are not tied in a knot, but are left long so that they do not become undone. The thread could be knotted and the ends trimmed close, but they could easily become undone, so the ends are left untied and long in what is termed musubi-eye, 結び目, tie-eye, although it is not a true knot. The musubi-me determines the shō-men, 正面, true-face, of the whisk.
The measurement of the natsume, 棗, jujube, from the bottom to the join of the lid is the same as the measurement of the cha-sen, 茶筅, tea-whisk, from the bottom to the thread – 1.2 sun kujira-jaku.
The join of the natsume is ever so slightly open, receptive, In, 陰, creating a separation from the bottom and the top. The thread of the whisk is solid, penetrative, Yō, 陽, and unites the top and the bottom parts of the whisk. The natsume is upright, and the chasen bamboo growth direction is upside down.
The height of the chū-natsume, 中棗, middle-jujube, is 1.8 sun kujira-jaku, which is the same measurement of the inverted cha-sen, 茶筅, tea-whisk, from the tips of the tines of the whisk to the thread. The full length of the chasen is 3 sun kujira-jaku.
There is a similarity between the threads of the tsuyu, 露, dew, of the shifuku and the threads of the chasen, musubi-me, 結び目, tie-eye, having the same two-part structure. The threads of the shifuku are tied in a square knot, while the threads of the musubi-me are not tied, but left free. Both threads are left long so that they will not unravel as they would if they were cut short. There is a similar knot on the opposite side of the shifuku.
The shifuku is made of woven fabric, the thread of the chasen is braided, yet, they are both examples of fabric technique, and they hold things together, the two sides of the fabric, and separate things, the tines of the whisk.