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How do you reconstruct a tradition of religious art wiped out by another religion? Naoko Gunji takes up this challenging question in Amidaji. Amidaji was a Buddhist temple in western Japan that, from the twelfth century onwards, overlooked the strait of Dannoura and commemorated the tragic protagonists of The Tale of the Heike who perished in the strait at the end of the Genpei War (1180–1185)―the Heike or the Taira clan and the child-emperor Antoku (1178–1185). Amidaji was destroyed, however, in 1870 amid a nativist, royalist movement of persecuting Buddhism, and replaced by an imperial Shinto shrine. Its art, architecture, and rituals were lost, and have until now been understood through the lens of the current shrine and a few surviving objects. By investigating numerous historical sources and artistic, literary, religious, political, and ideological contexts, Gunji reveals a carefully coordinated program of visual art and rituals for the salvation of Antoku and the Taira.
Practices and Rituals, Visual and Material Transfer
Volume Editors: and
The ERC-funded research project BuddhistRoad aims to create a new framework to enable understanding of the complexities in the dynamics of cultural encounter and religious transfer in pre-modern Eastern Central Asia. Buddhism was one major factor in this exchange: for the first time the multi-layered relationships between the trans-regional Buddhist traditions (Chinese, Indian, Tibetan) and those based on local Buddhist cultures (Khotanese, Uyghur, Tangut) will be explored in a systematic way. The second volume Buddhism in Central Asia II—Practice and Rituals, Visual and Materials Transfer based on the mid-project conference held on September 16th–18th, 2019, at CERES, Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany) focuses on two of the six thematic topics addressed by the project, namely on “practices and rituals”, exploring material culture in religious context such as mandalas and talismans, as well as “visual and material transfer”, including shared iconographies and the spread of ‘Khotanese’ themes.
Through an innovative interdisciplinary reading and field research, Igor Chabrowski analyses the history of the development of opera in Sichuan, arguing that opera serves as a microcosm of the profound transformation of modern Chinese culture between the 18th century and 1950s. He investigates the complex path of opera over this course of history: exiting the temple festivals, becoming a public obsession on commercial stages, and finally being harnessed to partisan propaganda work. The book analyzes the process of cross-regional integration of Chinese culture and the emergence of the national opera genre. Moreover, opera is shown as an example of the culture wars that raged inside China’s popular culture.
Art and Literature in Pictorial Magazines during Shanghai’s Jazz Age
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In Intoxicating Shanghai, Paul Bevan explores the work of a number of Chinese modernist figures in the fields of literature and the visual arts, with an emphasis on the literary group the New-sensationists and its equivalents in the Shanghai art world, examining the work of these figures as it appeared in pictorial magazines. It undertakes a detailed examination into the significance of the pictorial magazine as a medium for the dissemination of literature and art during the 1930s. The research locates the work of these artists and writers within the context of wider literary and art production in Shanghai, focusing on art, literature, cinema, music, and dance hall culture, with a specific emphasis on 1934 – ‘The Year of the Magazine’.
A Topography of Public Bronze Statuary in Modern Japan
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In his pioneering study, Men in Metal, Sven Saaler examines Japanese public statuary as a central site of historical memory from its beginnings in the Meiji period through the twenty-first century. Saaler shows how the elites of the modern Japanese nation-state went about constructing an iconography of national heroes to serve their agenda of instilling national (and nationalist) thinking into the masses. Based on a wide range of hitherto untapped primary sources, Saaler combines data-driven quantitative analysis and in-depth case studies to identify the categories and historical figures that dominated public space. Men in Metal also explores the agents behind this visualized form of the politics of memory and introduces historiographical controversies surrounding statue-building in modern Japan.
Over Two Centuries of Cooperation and Competition
Volume Editors: and
This publication is the result of a three-year research project between eminent Russian and Japanese historians. It offers an an in-depth analysis of the history of relations between Russia and Japan from the 18th century until the present day. The format of the publication as a parallel history presents views and interpretations from Russian and Japanese perspectives that showcase the differences and the similarities in their joint history. The fourteen core sections, organized along chronological lines, provide assessments on the complex and sensitive issues of bilateral Russo-Japanese relations, including the territory problem as well as economic exchange.
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In Engaging the Other: “Japan and Its Alter-Egos”, 1550-1850 Ronald P. Toby examines new discourses of identity and difference in early modern Japan, a discourse catalyzed by the “Iberian irruption,” the appearance of Portuguese and other new, radical others in the sixteenth century. The encounter with peoples and countries unimagined in earlier discourse provoked an identity crisis, a paradigm shift from a view of the world as comprising only “three countries” (sangoku), i.e., Japan, China and India, to a world of “myriad countries” (bankoku) and peoples. In order to understand the new radical alterities, the Japanese were forced to establish new parameters of difference from familiar, proximate others, i.e., China, Korea and Ryukyu. Toby examines their articulation in literature, visual and performing arts, law, and customs.
Eight studies examine key features of Chinese visual and material cultures, ranging from tomb design, metalware, ceramic pillows, and bronze mirrors, to printed illustrations, calligraphic rubbings, colophons, and paintings on Buddhist, landscape, and narrative themes. Questions addressed include how artists and artisans made their works, the ways both popular literature and market forces could shape ways of looking, and how practices and imagery spread across regions. The authors connect visual materials to funeral and religious practices, drama, poetry, literati life, travel, and trade, showing ways visual images and practices reflected, adapted to, and reproduced the culture and society around them. Readers will gain a stronger appreciation of the richness of the visual and material cultures of Middle Period China.

Riddles in Japanese Woodblock Prints
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The Tōkaidō highway, connecting Edo with Kyoto, was the most vital thoroughfare in Japan. Its cultural presence in pre- to early modern Japanese society led to the publication of woodblock print series, such as the widely known landscape prints by Hiroshige, that took this famous road as their theme.
The prints of Utagawa Kunisada, the most sought-after woodblock print designer of his day, represent a different treatment of the Tōkaidō, in which popular kabuki actors in specific roles are paired with Tōkaidō post stations. This study discusses the phenomenon of serialization in Japanese prints outlining its marketing mechanisms and concepts. It then proceeds to unravel Kunisada’s pairings of post-stations and kabuki roles,
which served as puzzles for his audience to decipher. Finally, this study analyses Kunisada’s methods when he invented and developed these patterns.
Kunisada’s Tōkaidō is a valuable visual source for the print collector, illustrating over 700 prints and it has been selected for an Honorable Mention at the 2014 IFPDA (International Fine Print Dealers Association) Book Award.