Eight-Ten: Gotoku Lid Rest

*Futa-oki*, 蓋置, lid-place, *go-toku*, 五徳, five-virtues, *Kara-kane*, 唐銅, Tang-copper, bronze, with dark patina; h. 1.2 *sun kane-jaku*, diam. 2 *sun kane-jaku*. The *gotoku* is a ring of rectangular-section with three triangular posts or legs, and is used to support a *kama no futa*, 釜の蓋, kettle’s lid when removed from the kettle.

When the *gotoku* is displayed in the Tearoom, the posts/legs are upright with two posts at the front, *shōmen*, 正面, correct-face, as pictured above. When used to support the *kama* lid, the *gotoku* is turned over so that the ring is up, and with one post/leg forward. Being inverted, the posts are identified as *ashi*, 足, foot/leg.

The *gotoku* is an ancient utensil for supporting a vessel over a fire, or the stand of an oil lamp, etc. The *gotoku* is made in many sizes, and there are groups of nesting *gotoku* of graduated sizes. Sen no Rikyū chose a *gotoku* to support the lid of the *kama* when removed. A *gotoku* is used to support a *kama* in some *fu-ro*, 風炉, wind-hearth, and most often in the *ro*, 炉, hearth.

The structure of the pictured *gotoku* has some numerical associations, and symbolic significance identified with the *Eki-kyō*, I Ching, 易経, Change-sutra. The circular ring is identified with the negative aspect of *In*, 陰, Ying, receptive. Each post is identified with the positive aspect of *Yō*, 陽, Yang, penetrative. A triangle is also identified with *Yō* because the number 3 cannot be divided equally in half. The three three-sided posts/legs together have a total of 9 sides, and the number 9 is of supreme *Yō*. The ring of the *gotoku* has a cross-section of 4 sides, and the number 4 is identified with *In* because it **can** be divided equally in half.

The height of the standard *futaoki* is 1.8 *sun kane-jaku*. The number 18 in Japanese is *jū-hachi*, 十八, ten-eight. The two Kanji can be written together to create the Kanji *ki*, 木, tree, which is symbolic of ‘life’.

The pictured *gotoku* has a diameter of 2 *sun kane-jaku*, and the height each post/leg is 1.2 *sun kane-jaku*. In my pursuit of finding the relevance of the number 18 in Tea utensils, I found that the number 18 may be ‘hidden’ in the measurements of the *gotoku*. The height of each post/leg is 1.2 *sun kane-jaku*, and when the three are added together, the total is 3.6 *sun kane-jaku*. A math-minded person would readily see that 36 is 18 doubled. Perhaps the determinant is the 2 *sun kane-jaku* diameter of the *gotoku* ring. This dual aspect of numbers may be reflected in the dual nature of the *gotoku*: upright and inverted, 18 and 18.

For further study, see also: Furo to Ro, Furo to Ro: Three Forms, and Jizō and the Gotoku