Articles crafted from lacquer, silk, cotton, paper, ceramics, and iron were central to daily life in early modern Japan. They were powerful carriers of knowledge, sociality, and identity, and their facture was a matter of serious concern among makers and consumers alike. In this innovative study, Christine M. E. Guth offers a holistic framework for appreciating the crafts produced in the city and countryside, by celebrity and unknown makers, between the late sixteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. Her study throws into relief the confluence of often overlooked forces that contributed to Japan’s diverse, dynamic, and aesthetically sophisticated artifactual culture. By bringing into dialogue key issues such as natural resources and their management, media representations, gender and workshop organization, embodied knowledge, and innovation, she invites readers to think about Japanese crafts as emerging from cooperative yet competitive expressive environments involving both human and nonhuman forces. A focus on the material, sociological, physiological, and technical aspects of making practices adds to our understanding of early modern crafts by revealing underlying patterns of thought and action within the wider culture of the times.
Craft Culture in Early Modern Japan Materials, Makers, and Mastery
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Publication of this book was supported in part by a grant from The Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies.