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.
About the Book
"This is a book that brings the past into conversation with the present, inspiring the reader with its insights into possibilities for the future."—Monumenta Nipponica"Christine Guth offers a brilliant new perspective on early modern Japanese craft. She shatters the myth of unchanging traditions by demonstrating how craft communities were innovative, well networked, and responsive to sustainability. This astute and engaging study shifts the focus from elite patrons to bring clarity to the networks, materials, and processes of craftmakers."—Sherry Fowler, Professor of Japanese Art History, University of Kansas
"This is a field-shifting work. It reflects the author’s immense expertise in the historical study of Japanese visual and material cultures and gives us a richer and more multivalent and multisensory understanding of the often essentialized category of 'craft.'"—Gregory Levine, Professor of Art History, University of California, Berkeley
Table of Contents
1. Natural Resources
2. Picturing the Early Modern Craftscape
3. Craft Organizations and Operations
4. Tacit Knowledge
5. Technology, Innovation, and Craft Mastery
List of Illustrations
Christine Guth discusses her book for the Japan Society