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Article

Gordon Campbell

Unwoven cloth made from the bast (inner bark) of a tree. It is also known as ‘tapa’, with reference to the Polynesian bark cloth made from the bark of the paper mulberry and used for clothing. There is a huge collection of Polynesian bark cloth in the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu. In sub-Saharan Africa bark cloth was traditionally decorated with free-hand painting applied with grass brushes, and was used for room-dividers and screens as well as clothing. Its widest application was in Japan, where bark cloth was used for windows, screens, kites, flags and umbrellas.

L. Terrell and J. Terrell: Patterns of Paradise: The Styles of Bark Cloth around the World (Chicago, 1980)M. J. Pritchard: Siapo: Bark Cloth Art of Samoa...

Article

Jenny F. So

Functional personal accessory used in China from the Eastern Zhou period (771–256 bc) to the 2nd century ad, after which elaborate forms evolved with a purely symbolic and decorative purpose. The typical Chinese belthook (also sometimes garment hooks), which was worn by both men and women, was made of bronze in a club shape, with a button on the underside of the broad end and a small hook turned to the top at the other (see Zhengzhou Erligang, pl. 40:9). It also occurs in a wide variety of sculptural shapes, including shield-form and rectangular, and may on rare occasions be made of gold, silver, iron, jade or bone. Most belthooks between 100 mm and 200 mm long were worn horizontally to secure a belt, with the button inserted into one end of the belt and the hook latched on to the other end. A bronze kneeling figure excavated from a site of the Warring States period (...

Article

Celadon  

Gordon Campbell

European term for a type of Chinese stoneware also known as greenware; the name derives from the colour of the dress worn by the shepherd Céladon in the stage version of Honoré d'Urfe's 17th-century pastoral romance, L'Astrée. The natural presence of small percentages of iron and titanium oxide in the glaze raw materials gave a wide range of celadon greens when fired in a reducing atmosphere. The glaze was later imitated in the stoneware of Japan and Korea, and still later in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. China began to export celedons to Japan in the Song period (960–1279); the Japanese gave the name kinuta (‘mallet’) to the finest Longquan celadons, which have a cloudy, blue-green colour.

G. St G. M. Gompertz: Chinese Celadon Wares (London, 1958, rev. 1980)Ice and Green Clouds: Traditions of Chinese Celadon (exh. cat. by Y. Mino and K. R. Tsiang; Indianapolis, IN, Mus. A., 1986)...

Article

Inrō  

Gordon Campbell

Japanese container for herbal medicines, attached by a cord and worn hanging from the waist. In the 16th century the plain black lacquer inrō came into fashion, and by the 17th century it had developed into the decorated gold lacquer inrō. Most lacquer artists active during the 18th and 19th centuries made inrō, and the variety of design adapted to their miniature form was infinite, ranging from elegant makie burnished to a perfectly seamless finish to depictions of popular legends. Inrō were accessories in which personal taste could be expressed, and certain individuals had collections from which they could select an appropriate design for any occasion (see colour pl. XVI).

R. Bushell: The Inro Handbook: Studies of Netsuke, Inro, and Lacquer (New York and Weatherhill, 1979) J. Hutt: Japanese Inro (New York and Weatherhill, 1997) M. Watanabe and others: ‘Did Inro Come from the West?’, Mag. Ant., 156/ 3 (Sept 1999), pp. 330–37...

Article

Phylis Floyd

French term used to describe a range of European borrowings from Japanese art. It was coined in 1872 by the French critic, collector and printmaker Philippe Burty ‘to designate a new field of study—artistic, historic and ethnographic’, encompassing decorative objects with Japanese designs (similar to 18th-century Chinoiserie), paintings of scenes set in Japan, and Western paintings, prints and decorative arts influenced by Japanese aesthetics. Scholars in the 20th century have distinguished japonaiserie, the depiction of Japanese subjects or objects in a Western style, from Japonisme, the more profound influence of Japanese aesthetics on Western art.

There has been wide debate over who was the first artist in the West to discover Japanese art and over the date of this discovery. According to Bénédite, Félix Bracquemond first came under the influence of Japanese art after seeing the first volume of Katsushika Hokusai’s Hokusai manga (‘Hokusai’s ten thousand sketches’, 1814) at the printshop of ...

Article

Pamela Roskin

(b Tokyo, Oct 11, 1942).

Japanese fashion designer. Rei Kawakubo, the fashion designer and creator of Comme des Garçons (Like Some Boys), is best known for her often oversized, asymmetrical, monochromatic and deliberately imperfect clothing (see fig.).

Born during World War II, Kawakubo was the oldest of three children. She described her childhood years as comfortable and normal even though her parents divorced, which was unusual in post-war Japan. Her father was an administrator at Keio University, a prestigious college in Tokyo, and her mother taught English at a local high school. In 1964 Kawakubo graduated from Keio University with a degree in aesthetics that included coursework in Asian and Western art. That same year, Japan hosted the Olympics, signalling that the postwar reconstruction period was over. The boom years that followed allowed such designers as Kawakubo, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto to flourish.

After graduating, Kawakubo moved to Harajuko, a bohemian neighbourhood in Tokyo. Although she herself did not adopt an alternative lifestyle, she was attracted to her neighbours’ rejection of traditional values. Her first job was in the advertising department of Asahi Kasei, a textile manufacturer. She said of those early career years that she was not thinking of a job in fashion but rather was striving towards self-sufficiency, a goal she believed every woman should attempt and a driving philosophy behind her designs....

Article

Mai Vu

(b Hiroshima, April 22, 1938).

Japanese fashion designer, active in Tokyo and Paris (see fig.). For his Autumn/Winter 1998 collection, Issey Miyake sent all his models down the Paris catwalk in a single stream of red, knitted tubing. Unlike the typical fashion show where the season’s look is unveiled in its finalized form, Miyake’s show was a presentation of his process. In collaboration with designer Dai Fujiwara, Miyake developed a radical approach to fashion design. Utilizing technological advances in fibre, fabric and computer science, he created a system to manufacture individual garments from a single thread. The method, known as A-POC, an acronym for ‘A Piece of Cloth’, is Miyake’s solution to the complicated manufacturing methods of traditional cut-and-sew garments.

Miyake was born in Hiroshima 1938 and witnessed the destruction and devastation of his country during World War II, but also saw its rise and redemption in the following years. This strength imbued in him allowed his artistry and discipline to grow. In ...

Article

Transculturalism proposes an approach to contemporary Asian art practices that addresses the conditions defining the modern experience of Asian artists living and working outside of their home countries. It is a term derived from the word transculturation, which describes the process of adjustment and re-creation that arises from the convergence of different cultures. The term became popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a period defined by major social changes wrought by globalization, increased mobility and ethnic intermingling that affected local community networks in both home and host countries, and also an upsurge in interest paid to contemporary art in and out of Asian countries.

Cuban anthropologist and humanist Fernando Ortiz (1881–1969) developed the concept of transculturalism in the 1940s, when he coined the term transculturation in a pioneering description of Afro-Cuban culture (Contrapunto cubano del tabaco y el azúcar, 1947). Ortiz devised the term to counter the notion of acculturation introduced by the British anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski (...

Article

Milo Cleveland Beach

(b Metz, 1854; d 1942)

French jeweller and collector. Vever directed the family jewellery business, begun in Metz by his grandfather Pierre-Paul Vever (d 1853). After the capture of Metz in the Franco-Prussian War (1871), the family moved to Luxembourg and then Paris, where the Maison Vever became well established on the Rue de la Paix, winning the Grand Prix of the universal expositions in 1889 and 1900 and becoming a leader in the Art Nouveau movement. Vever gave an important group of Art Nouveau works to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. His early interest in contemporary French painting led him to assemble a large and important group of works by Corot, Sisley, Renoir and Monet, of which he sold the majority (Paris, Gal. Georges Petit, 1897) to concentrate on Japanese and Islamic art. Vever had begun to collect Japanese prints in the 1880s and in 1892 joined the distinguished private group ...

Article

Pamela Roskin

(b Yokohama, Oct 3, 1943).

Japanese fashion designer ( see fig. ). Yamamoto’s influential designs combined traditional Japanese silhouettes with notions of architectural forms and impeccable tailoring. The collections from the designer’s early years were often in dark, muted colours and featured unstructured oversized layers that evoked the uncut philosophy of the Japanese kimono. Later in his career, he incorporated splashes of bright colour into his pieces.

Yamamoto’s father, a soldier, died in World War II. His mother was a seamstress. Yamamoto received a degree in law in 1966 before graduating in 1969 from the Bunkafukuso Gakuin, a prestigious Tokyo fashion school. That same year he won two fashion design awards, the So-en and Endo. He then lived in Paris for two years where he became familiar with European ideals in fashion. The juxtaposition of high style amidst the French student riots, anti-war protests and the women’s rights movement had a profound effect on his work. In an interview with ...