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Handmade Culture Cover

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Handmade Culture

Raku Potters, Patrons, and Tea Practitioners in Japan

Morgan Pitelka

Handmade Culture is the first comprehensive and cohesive study in any language to examine Raku, one of Japan’s most famous arts and a pottery technique practiced around the world. More than a history of ceramics, this innovative work considers four centuries of cultural invention and reinvention during times of both political stasis and socioeconomic upheaval. It combines scholarly erudition with an accessible story through its lively and lucid prose and its generous illustrations. The author’s own experiences as the son of a professional potter and a historian inform his unique interdisciplinary approach, manifested particularly in his sensitivity to both technical ceramic issues and theoretical historical concerns. Handmade Culture makes ample use of archaeological evidence, heirloom ceramics, tea diaries, letters, woodblock prints, and gazetteers and other publications to narrate the compelling history of Raku, a fresh approach that sheds light not only on an important traditional art from Japan, but on the study of cultural history itself.

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Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries

Mikael S. Adolphson, Edward Kamens, & Stacie Matsumoto (eds.)

The first three centuries of the Heian period (794–1086) saw some of its most fertile innovations and epochal achievements in Japanese literature and the arts. It was also a time of important transitions in the spheres of religion and politics, as aristocratic authority was consolidated in Kyoto, powerful court factions and religious institutions emerged, and adjustments were made in the Chinese-style system of ruler-ship. At the same time, the era’s leaders faced serious challenges from the provinces that called into question the primacy and efficiency of the governmental system and tested the social/cultural status quo. Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries, the first book of its kind to examine the early Heian from a wide variety of multidisciplinary perspectives, offers a fresh look at these seemingly contradictory trends. Essays by fourteen leading American, European, and Japanese scholars of art history, history, literature, and religions take up core texts and iconic images, cultural achievements and social crises, and the ever-fascinating patterns and puzzles of the time. The authors tackle some of Heian Japan’s most enduring paradigms as well as hitherto unexplored problems in search of new ways of understanding the currents of change as well as the processes of institutionalization that shaped the Heian scene, defined the contours of its legacies, and make it one of the most intensely studied periods of the Japanese past.

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Hokusai’s Great Wave

Biography of a Global Icon

Christine M. E. Guth

Hokusai’s “Great Wave,” as it is commonly known today, is arguably one of Japan’s most successful exports, its commanding cresting profile instantly recognizable no matter how different its representations in media and style. In this richly illustrated and highly original study, Guth examines the iconic wave from its first publication in 1831 through the remarkable range of its articulations, arguing that it has been a site where the tensions, contradictions, and, especially, the productive creativities of the local and the global have been negotiated and expressed. She follows the wave’s trajectory across geographies, linking its movements with larger political, economic, technological, and sociocultural developments. Adopting a case study approach, Guth explores issues that map the social life of the iconic wave across time and place, from the initial reception of the woodblock print in Japan, to the image’s adaptations as part of “international nationalism,” its place in American perceptions of Japan, its commercial adoption for lifestyle branding, and finally to its identification as a tsunami, bringing not culture but disaster in its wake.

Wide ranging in scope yet grounded in close readings of disparate iterations of the wave, multidisciplinary and theoretically informed in its approach, Hokusai’s Great Wave will change both how we look at this global icon and the way we study the circulation of Japanese prints. This accessible and engagingly written work moves beyond the standard hagiographical approach to recognize, as categories of analysis, historical and geographic contingency as well as visual and technical brilliance. It is a book that will interest students of Japan and its culture and more generally those seeking fresh perspectives on the dynamics of cultural globalization.

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Image Problems

The Origin and Development of the Buddha's Image in Early South Asia

by Robert DeCaroli

This deft and lively study by Robert DeCaroli explores the questions of how and why the earliest verifiable images of the historical Buddha were created. In so doing, DeCaroli steps away from old questions of where and when to present the history of Buddhism’s relationship with figural art as an ongoing set of negotiations within the Buddhist community and in society at large. By comparing innovations in Brahmanical, Jain, and royal artistic practice, DeCaroli examines why no image of the Buddha was made until approximately five hundred years after his death and what changed in the centuries surrounding the start of the Common Era to suddenly make those images desirable and acceptable. The textual and archaeological sources reveal that figural likenesses held special importance in South Asia and were seen as having a significant amount of agency and power. Anxiety over image use extended well beyond the Buddhists, helping to explain why images of Vedic gods, Jain teachers, and political elites also are absent from the material record of the centuries BCE. DeCaroli shows how the emergence of powerful dynasties and rulers, who benefited from novel modes of visual authority, was at the root of the changes in attitude toward figural images. However, as DeCaroli demonstrates, a strain of unease with figural art persisted, even after a tradition of images of the Buddha had become established.

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Images in Asian Religions

Text and Contexts

Phyllis Granoff

This collection offers a challenge to any simple understanding of the role of images by looking at aspects of the reception of image worship that have only begun to be studied, including the many hesitations that Asian religious traditions expressed about image worship. Written by eminent scholars of anthropology, art history, and religion with interests in different regions (India, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia), this volume takes a fresh look at the many ways in which images were defined and received in Asian religions.

Buddha Dharma Kyokai Foundation Book on Buddhism and Comparative Religion

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Images of the Canton Factories 1760–1822

Reading History in Art

Paul A. Van Dyke and Maria Kar-wing Mok

Hundreds of Chinese export paintings of Canton trading houses and shopping streets are in museums and private collections throughout the world, and scholars of art and history have often questioned the reliability of these historical paintings. In this illustrated volume, Paul Van Dyke and Maria Mok examine these Chinese export paintings by matching the changes in the images with new historical data collected from various archives. Many factory paintings are reliable historical records in their own right and can be dated to a single year. Dating images with such precision was not possible in the past owing to insufficient information on the scenes. The new findings in this volume provide unprecedented opportunities to re-date many art works and prove that images of the Canton factories painted on canvas by Chinese artists are far more trustworthy than what scholars have believed in the past.

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Imperial Illusions

Crossing Pictorial Boundaries in the Qing Palaces

by Kristina Kleutghen

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Japanese Mandalas

Representations of Sacred Geography

Elizabeth T. ten Grotenhuis

The first broad study of Japanese mandalas to appear in a Western language, this volume interprets mandalas as sanctified realms where identification between the human and the sacred occurs. The author investigates eighth- to seventeenth-century paintings from three traditions: Esoteric Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, and the kami-worshipping (Shinto) tradition. It is generally recognized that many of these mandalas are connected with texts and images from India and the Himalayas. A pioneering theme of this study is that, in addition to the South Asian connections, certain paradigmatic Japanese mandalas reflect pre-Buddhist Chinese concepts, including geographical concepts. In convincing and lucid prose, ten Grotenhuis chronicles an intermingling of visual, doctrinal, ritual, and literary elements in these mandalas that has come to be seen as characteristic of the Japanese religious tradition as a whole. This beautifully illustrated work begins in the first millennium B.C.E. in China with an introduction to the Book of Documents and ends in present-day Japan at the sacred site of Kumano. Ten Grotenhuis focuses on the Diamond and Womb World mandalas of Esoteric Buddhist tradition, on the Taima mandala and other related mandalas from the Pure Land Buddhist tradition, and on mandalas associated with the kami-worshipping sites of Kasuga and Kumano. She identifies specific sacred places in Japan with sacred places in India and with Buddhist cosmic diagrams. Through these identifications, the realm of the buddhas is identified with the realms of the kami and of human beings, and Japanese geographical areas are identified with Buddhist sacred geography. Explaining why certain fundamental Japanese mandalas look the way they do and how certain visual forms came to embody the sacred, ten Grotenhuis presents works that show a complex mixture of Indian Buddhist elements, pre-Buddhist Chinese elements, Chinese Buddhist elements, and indigenous Japanese elements.

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The Last Tosa

Iwasa Katsumochi Matabei, Bridge to Ukiyo-e

Sandy Kita

Iwasa Katsumochi Matabei (1578-1650) is one of the most controversial figures in Japanese art history. For more than half a century, historians have argued over Matabei's role in Japanese art: Was he, as he asserted, "The Last Tosa" (the school of painters who specialized in Yamato-e, a kind of classical courtly painting) or, as others characterized him, "The Founder of Ukiyo-e," the style of painting associated with the urban commoner class. In this highly original and convincing study, Matabei emerges as both--an artist in whose work can be seen elements of both Yamato-e and Ukiyo-e.

Extending its analysis beyond the individual artist, The Last Tosa examines the trends and artistic developments of a transitional period and makes heretofore unexamined connections between the world of the aristocrat and the merchant as well as the two artistic schools that reflected their tastes. It addresses these larger issues by identifying Matabei as a member of a social group known as machishu. Excerpts from noblemen's diaries, an investigation of the etymology of machishu, and an analysis of art by its members, indicate that machishu included both commoners and gentry, thus revealing a rich tradition of egalitarianism--an important departure from the conventionally held belief that seventeenth-century Japan's urban society was rigidly stratified.

The Last Tosa provides an exhaustive study of Matabei's paintings, including all his important works and key attributions. Translations of all documents available on Matabei are given, in particular his travel diary, a unique source, the only known example of such a text by a seventeeth-century classical painter. With its fusion of cultural history with political, social, and economic history, this sophisticated study will appeal to not only art historians, but also to students of history, anthropology, and culture studies interested in questions of group identity and the political uses of culture.

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Maximum Embodiment

Yoga, the Western Painting of Japan, 1912 -1955

Bert Winther-Tamaki

Maximum Embodiment presents a compelling thesis articulating the historical character of Yoga, literally the “Western painting” of Japan. The term designates what was arguably the most important movement in modern Japanese art from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Perhaps the most critical marker of Yoga was its association with the medium of oil-on-canvas, which differed greatly from the water-based pigments and inks of earlier Japanese painting. Yoga encompassed both establishment fine art and avant-gardist insurgencies, but in both cases, as the term suggests, it was typically focused on techniques, motifs, canons, or iconographies that were obtained in Europe and deployed by Japanese artists. Despite recent advances in Yoga studies, important questions remain unanswered: What specific visuality did the protagonists of Yoga seek from Europe and contribute to modern Japanese society? What qualities of representation were so dearly coveted as to stimulate dedication to the pursuit of Yoga? What distinguished Yoga in Japanese visual culture? This study answers these questions by defining a paradigm of embodied representation unique to Yoga painting that may be conceptualized in four registers: first, the distinctive materiality of oil paint pigments on the picture surface; second, the depiction of palpable human bodies; third, the identification of the act and product of painting with a somatic expression of the artist’s physical being; and finally, rhetorical metaphors of political and social incorporation. The so-called Western painters of Japan were driven to strengthen subjectivity by maximizing a Japanese sense of embodiment through the technical, aesthetic, and political means suggested by these interactive registers of embodiment. Balancing critique and sympathy for the twelve Yoga painters who are its principal protagonists, Maximum Embodiment investigates the quest for embodiment in some of the most compelling images of modern Japanese art. The valiant struggles of artists to garner strongly embodied positions of subjectivity in the 1910s and 1930s gave way to despairing attempts at fathoming and mediating the horrifying experiences of real life during and after the war in the 1940s and 1950s. The very properties of Yoga that had been so conducive to expressing forceful embodiment now produced often gruesome imagery of the destruction of bodies. Combining acute visual analysis within a convincing conceptual framework, this volume provides an original account of how the drive toward maximum embodiment in early twentieth-century Yoga was derailed by an impulse toward maximum disembodiment.

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