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Drunk on Sobriety

Wine and Tea in Chinese Art

November 13, 2019 - August 16, 2020


This showcase exhibition presents ceramics, lacquerware, paintings and calligraphy that bear witness to the great esteem in which tea drinking is held in China. Since the late Neolithic period, wine made from fermented grain has been a further highly popular tipple. Contrasting with wine’s intoxicating effect, savouring multiple bowls of tea made users „drunk on sobriety“.

The museum presents bronze and ceramic sacrificial wine vessels as used in ancestor worship. Tang Dynasty (7th–9th century) poetry celebrated wine’s stimulating effect and the creative inspiration afforded by tea drinking. Eccentric artists during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (14th – early 20th century) conjured up calligraphic versions of the famous poems with forceful brushstrokes. Exquisite Chinese tea ceramics and powdered green tea whipped to a froth were developed in Chan (J. Zen) Buddhist monasteries and in elite literary circles during the Song Dynasty (10th–13th century). Japanese monks who made pilgrimages to China to study Chan Buddhism brought the art of tea drinking to Japan, where it was perfected by tea master Sen no Rikyu in the 16th century. That means that the origins of the Japanese tea ceremony are to be found in China!

People enjoying these beverages appear in virtually all representations of Chinese pastimes. Wine and tea are back in fashion again in modern China: as well as imbibing wine created from pressed grapes, drinkers also enjoy an exhilarating buzz from sinfully expensive teas, such as Pu-erh, White tea or Baozhong tea.

Unterstützt von

Fördererkreis des Museums für Ostasiatische Kunst Köln

Orientstiftung zur Förderung der Ostasiatischen Kunst



Kampagnenmotiv: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, Marion Mennicken
Key Visual:


Global Merchandise more


Horizons more

Opening times

Tuesday to Sunday
11am – 5pm
Every first Thursday in the month
11am – 10pm 

Closed Mondays; open on All Saints' Day
Museum is closed on December 24th, Christmas Day (25 Dec), New Year's Eve (31 Dec) and New Year's Day (1 Jan). Museum is opend on Easter Monday, Whit Monday, German Unity Day and December 26.

Admission prices

€ 9.50 / reduced € 5,50

KölnTag on the first Thursday of the month (except public holidays): free admission to the Museum for all Cologne residents.

How to get here

Public transport: Tram routes 1 and 7 and bus route 142, alight at ‘Universitätsstrasse’
There is a car park at the museum


The museum is barrier-free. Disabled toilet available.


Museum für
Ostasiatische Kunst Köln
Universitätsstrasse 100
D 50674 Köln
Ticket office +49.221.221-28617
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