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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.
About the Author
Christine M. E. Guth led the Asian specialism in the Victoria and Albert Museum and Royal College of Art's History of Design Program from 2007 to 2016. Her books include Art, Tea, and Industry: Masuda Takashi and the Mitsui Circle; Art of Edo Japan: The Artist and the City 1615–1868; and Hokusai's Great Wave: Biography of a Global Icon.