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Pictorial Photography from the 1950s to the 1970s
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Imagining Singapore is the first comprehensive study on the history of Pictorial photography in Singapore. Drawing from interviews, unpublished historical data and newly discovered photographs, the book unveils a fascinating aspect of visual culture and its links to global Pictorialism. While Singapore experienced sweeping changes from independence and industrialisation, Pictorial photography took on multiple roles, acting as a symbol of democracy and modernity, staging national identity and providing a mechanism for Singaporeans to engage with ideas of the past, present and future. Such photographs shaped the way modern Singapore was imagined and represented for decades to come.
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The introduction of writing enables new forms of literature, but these can be invisible in works that survive as manuscripts. Through looking at inscriptions of poetry on garbage and as graffiti, we can glimpse how literature spread along with writing.
This study uses these lesser-studied sources, including inscriptions on pottery, architecture, and especially wooden tablets known as mokkan, to uncover how poetry, and literature more broadly, was used, shared and thrown away in early Japan. Through looking at these disposable and informal sources, we explore the development of early Japanese literature, and even propose parallels to similar developments in other societies across space and time.
This book solves the long-standing mystery of a Christian monastery near Samarkand, seen and described by two Arab travellers in the tenth century. Despite several attempts made since the 1890s, its precise location had never been established. The first part covers the quest, the find, and the archaeological excavations’ results. Then the author proceeds to search for a mediaeval Christian enclave near modern Tashkent, which appears to have been washed away by a river that changed its course over centuries.
Apart from the Christians, the book also touches upon the Manichaeans, Buddhists, Zoroastrians and other Sogdians, their languages, faiths, and material remnants.
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The Social Lives of Chinese Objects is the first anthology of texts to apply Arjun Appadurai’s well-known argument on the social life of things to the discussion of artefacts made in China. The essays in this book look at objects as “things-in-motion,” a status that brings attention to the history of transmissions ensuing after the time and conditions of their production. How does the identity of an object change as a consequence of geographical relocation and/ or temporal transference? How do the intentions of the individuals responsible for such transfers affect the later status and meaning of these objects? The materiality of the things analyzed in this book, and visualized by a rich array of illustrations, varies from bronze to lacquered wood, from clay to porcelain, and includes painting, imperial clothing, and war spoils. Metamorphoses of value, status, and function as well as the connections with the individuals who managed them, such as collectors, museum curators, worshipers, and soldiers are also considered as central to the discussion of their life. Presenting a broader and more contextual reading than that traditionally adopted by art-historical scholarship, the essays in this book take on a multidisciplinary approach that helps to expose crucial elements in the life of these Chinese things and brings to light the cumulative motives making them relevant and meaningful to our present time.
Following the Tea Ritual from China to West Africa
Green tea, imported from China, occupies an important place in the daily lives of Malians. They spend so much time preparing and consuming the sugared beverage that it became the country’s national drink. To find out how Malians came to practice the tea ritual, this study follows the beverage from China to Mali on its historical trade routes halfway around the globe. It examines the circumstances of its introduction, the course of the tea ritual, the equipment to prepare and consume it, and the meanings that it assumed in the various places on its travel across geographical regions, political economies, cultural contexts, and religious affiliations.
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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.
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From prehistoric bone flutes to Confucian bell-sets, from ancient divination to his beloved qin, this book presents translations of thirteen seminal essays on musical subjects by Jao Tsung-i. In language as elegant and refined as the ancient texts he so admired, his journey takes readers through Buddhist incantation, the philosophy of musical instruments, acoustical numerology, lyric poetry, historical and sociological contexts, manuscript studies, dance choreography, repertoire formulation, and opera texts. His voice is authoritative and intimate, the expert crafting his arguments, both accessible and sophisticated, succinct and richly tapestried; and concealed within a deft modesty is a thinker privileging us with his most profound observation. The musician’s musician, the scholar’s scholar, bold yet cautious, flamboyant yet restrained, a man for all seasons, a harmoniousness of time and place.
(De)Colonialism, Orientalism, and Imagining Asia
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In The Curious Case of the Camel in Modern Japan Ayelet Zohar critically analyzes camel images as a metonymy for Asia, and Japanese attitudes towards the continent. The book reads into encounters with the exotic animals, from nanban art, realist Dutch-influenced illustrations, through misemono roadshows of the first camel-pair imported in 1821. Modernity and Japan’s wars of Pan-Asiatic fantasies associated camels with Asia’s poverty, bringing camels into zoos, tourist venues, and military zones, as lowly beasts of burden, while postwar images project the imago of exotica and foreignness on camels as Buddhist ‘peace’ messengers. Zohar convincingly argues that in the Japanese imagination, camels serve as signifiers of Asia as Otherness, the opposite of Japan’s desire for self-association with Western cultures.