Archive for the 'Asian Tribes/Cultures/Countries' Category

Object: Korean Hanbok

E/1965/9/016

Hanbok

Seoul, South Korea

1955

Silk, cotton, satin, metal fasteners

IMG_20190502_085134_262

E-1965-9-16

This traditional Korean dress called a hanbok, was collected in 1955 and donated to the museum’s ethnology collection in 1965. The ensemble consists of 3 pieces: an underskirt, skirt, (chima) and jacket/robe (jeogori). A hanbok typically consists of an upper garment called jeogori worn with trousers (baji) or a wraparound skirt (chima). Traditionally, the wide open sleeves of the jeogori have been said to represent the warmth and embrace of the Korean people while the flowing skirts symbolize space and freedom. The loose fit of both the chima and jeogori were designed for ease of movement and comfort.

The museum’s hanbok was handmade for the individual who donated it. The underskirt is white satin with brocade flowers attached to a white cotton bodice. The delicate bodice fastens at the back with hook-&-eye closures. The skirt is made of blue silk with gold painted designs in the same style as the underskirt. The jacket is pale blue silk with maroon decorations on the sleeve edge, underarm, and neck edge.

hanbok2

The changes in the hanbok and jeogori. Photo Credit: nationalclothing.org

The hanbok has been a cultural staple in Korean fashion for over 1,600 years but has changed drastically in that time!  The baji is usually worn by men and chima by women, but mural paintings dating back to the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.) show that there was originally no distinct difference in Hanbok styling by sex. In these ancient murals, both men and women wore wide-sleeved jeogori long enough to cover their hips over trousers or skirts. An example of a replica of the garments from these murals can be seen from the Google Arts and Culture exhibit about the Jeogori below. More examples can be seen directly at the digital exhibition, here.

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 10.27.10 AM

A recreation of the jeogori depicted in a Goguryeo Kingdom mural. Photo Credit: Traditional Clothing of the Goguryeo Kingdom (2016)
by Kim Jeong Ah, Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation

Over the centuries the hanbok and jeogori have continued to change, shifting to meet fashion trends. One of the most noticeable shifts is the ever changing preference on the height of the chima across the chest and waist. One change that has persisted into the modern era is the addition of the otgoreum. The otgoreum is the bow, tied in front of the chest, which replaced the previous trend of tying the waistband with long sashes.  The hanbok in the museum’s collection has a otogreum.

E_1965_9_16

The Hanbok is still celebrated and worn on special occasions such as weddings, holidays and festivals. The flowing fabrics, floral decorative elements and bright colors have made the hanbok a favorite of tourists and fans of traditional clothing.

 

For more Info:

http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/Culture/view?articleId=100729)

http://nationalclothing.org/asia/70-korea/361-history-of-korean-hanbok-evolution-of-hanbok-during-the-last-2,000-years.html

https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/lgJi008cNieELw

Object: Brass Lamps

Object: Brass Temple Lamps (2)

E/1955/18/272-a-b

Nepal

12 Century A.D.

Brass (metallic alloy of copper and zinc)

Hinduism, Nepal, Brass, Lamp, Durga

This set of oil lamps (that belong with a set of bases) was donated to the Sam Noble Museum by a Mr. Richard Gordon Matzene in 1955. Both the lamps and bases are currently housed in the ethnography collection. The set originally came from a Hindu temple in Nepal. The lamp height is approximately 39” and it is crafted entirely out of brass. The set dates back to 12th century A.D. Depicted on each lamp is the Hindu goddess Durga; she is distinguishable by the multitude of symbolism surrounding her.

Nepal is land-locked by both China and India; due to the country’s geographical location and its history of migration, conquest and trade, Nepal has a blending of Indo-Aryan and Tibeto-Mongolian influences. Hinduism is the most widely practiced religion 1. Within Hinduism, Durga is the mother goddess and protector of the universe.

woodemma_83180_9644942_Pic 3

Durga stands for all that is good in the world and constantly fights the forces of evil.  She has eight arms, each holding a symbolic object/weapon given to her by other beings 2. Such objects include, but are not limited to: the sword, the bow and arrow, the lotus flower, and the conch shell. Each object symbolizes different concepts. For example, the conch represents happiness, the club represents devotion, the bow and arrow represent character and the lowered right hand represents forgiveness. Durga is often depicted with a lion or tiger. The lion represents the control of tendencies such as anger, arrogance, and greed, while the tiger represents unlimited power 3.

Hinduists believe that objects “contain the essence of the deities they represent” 1. The depiction of the goddess is in the center while the remainder of the lamp expands around her. Since we know Durga is symbolic for being motherly and universal, we can conclude this is a very deliberate aesthetic decision. Durga is the centerpiece because she is the universe. The expansion of the universe is a fundamental concept built into the culture of the Hindu people of Nepal.

woodemma_83180_9644943_Pic 4

The object originates from a religious setting and there are Hindu symbols within the design of the lamp. Durga is depicted in the lamps holding a sword as well as a bow and arrow, signaling with her lower hand, and with both lion and tiger figures at her feet. When combined, these symbols represent eradication of evil qualities, righteous values, forgiveness, ultimate power and control of wicked tendencies.

Durga is a mascot for all that is good and pure in the world; thus, it is her duty to fight to expose and eradicate evil. In this context, the goddess Durga (when depicted on the lamp set) provides light through witch her followers may use to see the goodness and truth in the world. The artifact directly communicates its significance to the observer. Not only is it a lamp, but it is symbolic for the goddess herself.

This lamp set would have been used in a functional way, along with the religious connotation it expresses. It is still unclear whether the lamp was used continuously or only during specific celebrations or seasons. If it was the latter, it could have possibly been used in rituals or ceremonies concerning the Living Goddess of Nepal. Click on the link to learn more about this custom: https://www.thoughtco.com/the-living-goddess-of-nepal-1769500 5.

((Shannah Will))-Written as part of the ANTH1253 2018 Spring Semester Class Project

 

Works Cited:

Nepal

Countries and Their Cultures. http://www.everyculture.com/Ma-Ni/Nepal.html#ixzz58RM6B5F4, accessed February 17, 2018.

Marchand, Peter

Durga. Hindu Goddesses: Durga – Hindu goddess that kills your demons. http://www.sanatansociety.org/hindu_gods_and_goddesses/durga.htm#.WpcSCpPwYxg, accessed February 17, 2018.

Self-Development and Happiness e-Newsletter

Path To Anandam. https://www.pathtoanandam.org/symbolismsignificance-of-goddess-durgas-8-hands-with-weapons-and-her-teachings, accessed February 17, 2018.

Masselos, Jim

2006 Goddess: Divine Energy, ‘A goddess for everyone: the mass production of divine images’, Sydney, 148 ( colour illus.), https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/ collection/works/105.2011/,  accessed March 8, 2018

Das, Subhamoy

2017 The Living Goddess in Nepal: How Nepalese Girls are Worshiped as Deities. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-living-goddess-of-nepal-1769500, accessed March 8, 2018.

Object: Jade Carving

willshannah_124974_9597796_28275482_1964890397172609_176426160_oAccession Number: E/1995/18/041

Object: Jade Carving: This object is made up of a water buffalo, two female figures, a bird, and a ‘mysterious’ figure

Location: China

Date: Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 C.E.)

Materials: Jade (nephrite)

Keywords: China, Jade, Ming Dynasty, water buffalo, symbolism

It is important to know what exactly is being talked about in order for the whole symbolism of the piece which is so important to be understood. With that being the case, the two female figures are stood at the front of the piece, the one on the left as you look at the piece front on, seemingly more elderly than the other. Behind them, on a podium, stands the water buffalo. On this creature’s back is the bird, seemingly holding a branch of some sort. Covering the bird almost entirely from the front, but above the more elderly woman, is what has been dubbed the ‘mysterious’ figure for reasons that will be discussed later. This piece is carved from jade, giving it a primarily pink color, though there is brown in the stone on the bottom of the podium, and green on the bird’s head and the front of the ‘mystery’ figure. This use of jade also gives it a very smooth feel. All of this can be seen in Fig. 1.

For the discussion of this piece, it is also imperative to have some background knowledge on the culture and time it is coming from. It is known that this piece came from the Ming Dynasty (1) which ran from 1368-1644 C.E. this being the time between the Yuan and Qing Dynasties. While both of these have important connotations politically for China, the Yuan is better known for its founding by Genghis Khan and his regime. It is after the Qing Dynasty that the current politics of China were founded, putting the Ming Dynasty right at the end of dynastic rule in China. Culturally, this piece is also significant for what the figures symbolize for the Chinese people, as will be discussed in depth in the rest of this post.

When discussing the symbolism of this piece it is simpler and easier to break down into three sections; the buffalo figure, the bird figure, and the jade material. These then are used in combination in this piece to create a whole new meaning and give more insight into what this particular piece may have meant for the Chinese people and also what we can learn about them from it.

Beginning with the buffalo figure, this piece has layers of meaning. The first layer comes from early Chinese history, just like every other civilization, China was founded on agriculture. In agriculture, water buffalo were very important for the Chinese people as they were used for plowing the fields. The second layer comes later in history, c.11th-12th century C.E. At this time the buffalo/ox figures had a kind of revival due to the publication of a series of songs, Ten Oxherding Songs, that talked about the path to enlightenment. This path is by finding, sighting, and herding an ox/buffalo (2).

willshannah_124974_9597797_elderly women

The next figure to examine is that of the bird. There are multiple variations of what exactly a bird means but they are all centered around the idea of death and the soul. They were considered to be the guide into the afterlife for a person’s soul for many years in China (3). This may also give an explanation for the ‘mystery’ figure; it may be that this non-descript figure is meant to be a soul that is being guided by the bird behind it, the seeming face on this figure also gives credence to this idea.

Finally, the material used must be considered. Jade, or nephrite specifically, was commonly seen in China as a precious stone, with connotations to heaven (4). It has also always been a very hard stone to work with and shape due to its structure (5). These combined have meant that jade has formed connotations with rich elites as they were the only ones with the means to buy anything so costly. We also know that jade has always had ceremonial connotations (6), specifically with funerals, from early dynasty tombs holding simple jade discs, to later tombs holding intricately carved pieces similar to one in this project.

When all these elements are combined a whole new meaning to the piece as a whole is presented. What becomes clear is that this piece is a rare and precious ceremonial piece, likely from an elite’s tomb, possibly with the goal of showing how the deceased wishes to go to heaven, showing they are worthy of such a thing through their enlightenment and respect for their origins.

Another possible conclusion of fusing these sub-categories is mentioned in the donor file document, “this carving represents the source of life” (1). This is also a suitable conclusion to draw when taking the symbolism into account; the buffalo means the source of agriculture and therefore life, the bird guides the spirits into the people, and the ‘mystery’ figure is still representative of the souls being guided. In fact, this conclusion may even account for the two female figures in the foreground of the carving (as seen in Fig. 2), although I have not mentioned previously them due to lack of information, one could make the argument for them possibly being mother figures and nurturing the animals and/or souls, or possibly having some other similar kind of role.

For more information on the value of jade throughout history, as well as more modern uses for jade please watch the following short video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnBY6JfuUM0

((Shannah Will))-Written as part of the ANTH1253 2018 Spring Semester Class Project

Bibliographic references:

  1. Matzene-Wentz donor file. Sam Noble Museum.
  2. Pik, Chan Lai. 2011. “Jade spiders and praying mantises of the Western Zhou Dynasty: Reconstructing an ancient cultural mindset.” Ars Orientalis 41: 165-185.
  3. Leidy, Denise P., Sui, Wai-fang Anita, and Watt, James C.Y. 1997. “Chinese decorative arts.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum.
  4. de Groot, J.J.M. 1897. The religious system of China: its ancient forms, evolution, history and present aspect, manners, customs, and social institutions. Leiden: Brill.
  5. Meeks, Nigel D., Michaelson, Carole, Middleton, Andrew P., and Sax, Margaret. 2004. “The identification of carving techniques on Chinese jade.” Journal of archaeological science 31 (10): 1413-1428.
  6. Boy with water buffalo statue, accession no. 02.18.438. The Metropolitan Museum.

 

Object: Bronze Incense Burner

Accession: E/1955/18/139

Name: Bronze Incense Burner

Location: Asia: Dynastic China

Date: Dynastic China

Materials: Bronze

Key Terms: Incense, Burner, Bronze, Dynastic China

This bronze incense burner from the Ethnology Collection at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History is a three-piece artifact dating back to Dynastic China. The base consists of an elephant with three attachments that sit on top of the back of the elephant; the top tier is missing, however, there are holes on the top attachment of the elephant where this piece would connect. The burner stands 24” high when assembled. It is made from bronze and each piece is hand painted in multi-color designs, including light blue, dark blue, teal, light green, dark green, purple, yellow and white. The incense burner was used to burn incense as remnants of this process are evident because you can hear the remaining fragments moving around inside the elephant as you lift the object. There is also proof of aging in the form of green discoloration on the insides of the attached tears as well as the top of the elephant, which is a result of the bronze oxidizing.

 

The period of the Shang and Zhou dynasties is generally known as the Bronze Age in China. During this time in China rituals that centered on incense burners like this one had an important social function, because these were so important for creating societal cohesion. Since these rituals were so valued most objects used were made from bronze, which represented the superior sectors of society, as bronze was highly valued. Therefore, the material used to create this burner leads us to its cultural significance, as bronze burners are the most precious. The rituals this burner was used in became increasingly religious over time and were used to communicate with gods, spirits, and deceased ancestors. [1, 3]

Shang_Dynasty_1600_BC_-_1046_BC

Map courtesy of Arab Hafez licensed by CC-BY

Although we cannot pinpoint the exact date this incense burner was created, I am led to believe that it was likely constructed sometime during the Bronze Age (Shang and Zhou dynasties). Research shows that excavated Han Dynasty tombs had depictions of incense burners and elephants, therefore, the significance of these symbols in this culture was created before the Han Dynasty. This incense burner was likely to have been constructed in the orange/yellow region of the map on the right because that is where bronze paraphernalia used for rituals was being created at the time of the Bronze Age. The remnants found in incense burners excavated from tombs also prove that China was engaged in the global economy through international trading at the time these burners were being used because some of the spices found in the remnants were not grown in China. [2]

 

These burners were historically used to burn incense and spices for religious purposes and are contemporarily used for the same reasons; however, the religious symbolism has evolved over time. Earliest documented scent culture emphasizes simplicity and the belief that complex aromas were inherently suspicious because of the extravagance the original purity of virtues is lost. The original simple scents and spices used were intentionally unpleasant to avoid the corruption the pleasant but complex scents were thought to bring. Over time a change occurred and the idea of antique simplicity died off. Today, diverse incense and spices are used in combination with different religious ceremonies or rituals. [3]

 

The authenticity of this bronze incense burner is affirmed in its physical structure and visual signs of aging. Feet elevate the burner above the table surface, which is a requirement of an authentic incense burner, as without them the object would not be able to function correctly. The green discoloration on the top of the elephant also exemplifies its age as bronze greens from oxidation. This burner was undoubtedly handmade as the intricate designs that appear throughout the artifact are hand painted. Although the process for molding these bronze burners may be derivative, I would assert that these designs are unique to this particular burner, and exemplify the maker’s creativity and originality. The time put in to paint this complex design on such valued material denotes the importance of this object. [4]

 

((Kayla Grudzielanek))- Written as part of the ANTH1253 2018 Spring Semester Class Project

Works Cited:

  1. Department of Asian Art. “Shang and Zhou Dynasties: The Bronze Age of China.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. 2004, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/shzh/hd_shzh.htm.
  2. Kim, Minku. “CLAIMS OF BUDDHIST RELICS IN THE EASTERN HAN TOMB MURALS AT HORINGER: Issues in the Historiography of the Introduction of Buddhism to China.” Ars Orientalis, 44, 2014, pp. 134-154., http://www.jstor.org/stable/43489801.
  3. Milburn, Olivia. “Aromas, Scents, and Spices: Olfactory Culture in China before the Arrival of Buddhism.” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 136, no. 3, July 2016, pp. 441-464., http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7817/jameroriesoci.136.3.0441.
  4. Stone, Elizabeth Rosen. “A Buddhist Incense Burner from Gandhara.” Metropolitan Museum Journal, 39, 2004, pp. 69-99., http://www.jstor.org/stable/40034602.

Picture:

“Ancient Chinese Dynasties: Advancements and Achievements.” Ancient Chinese Dynasties: Advancements and Achievements – The Zhou Dynasty, anchientchinesedynasties.weebly.com/the-zhou-dynasty.html.

E/1955/18/139 in the Sam Noble Museum Ethnology Collection

 

Additional Reading:

Maguer, Sterenn Le. “Typology of Incense-Burners of the Islamic Period.” Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, vol. 41, July 2010, pp. 173-185., http://www.jstor.org/stable/41622131.

 

Object: Porcelain Figure

Object: Porcelain Figure

Accession Number: E/1955/18/029

Object: 8 ⅝” porcelain statue of Kuan Yin, goddess of compassion

Location: China, Qing Dynasty

Date: 1736-1795

Materials: Porcelain

Keywords: China, porcelain, figure, statue

   

The woman in the figure is Kuan Yin, goddess of compassion and perseverance whose name literally means “She Who Hears the Cries of the World.” The statue was created during the Qing Dynasty in China anywhere from 1736-1795 [2]. It is only 8 ⅝ inches tall, and the coloring is an off-white shade of cream that is made of molded porcelain. The figure depicts her with a soft facial expression, flowers in her hair, and an extravagant dress with long, curly accents and intricate beading that connects a series of medallions. She is also barefoot and standing on a fish with very long whiskers. The artifact seems to have been used to display and honor the bodhisattva, Kuan Yin, and summon her powers of compassion, perseverance, focus, and inspiration into their daily lives.

During the 18th century China when the porcelain figure was made, the Chinese were trying to embrace a new dynasty under the Qing-long emperor. Qing was determined to separate himself from the previous rule and undertook many reconstruction projects to build Tibetan-style temples and wanted citizens to embrace a new capital city other than Beijing [3]. He even went as far as persecuting those who spoke against him [3]. He wanted to be a Buddhist ruler, and perhaps his extra push and his new way of ruling inspired people to delve deeper into their Buddhist practices and utilize idols like Kuan Yin. Her use in modern culture is present in the LGBTQ community in the United States where members find her qualities of compassion and perseverance just as incredible and inspiring as people did in the 1700s [1].

The story and transformation of Kuan Yin throughout the course of history helps express why she means so much to so many people. Kuan Yin is known as a bodhisattva. “The bodhisattva is often described as a kind of Buddha-to-be, one who postpones ultimate nirvana in order to work tirelessly to eliminate the suffering of all living beings,” [1]. Kuan Yin was believed to have originated in India during the Common Era as a male spirit named Avalokitesvara. The spirit’s presence in China became female around the 12th century. The transformation between genders can perhaps be attributed to the Chinese association between wisdom and femininity and compassion and masculinity as these are two qualities central to Kuan Yin’s existence [1]. Furthermore, the version of Kuan Yin that seems most relevant to the porcelain figure in the Sam Noble collections is that of “the Chinese princess Miao-shan, a common fisherwoman, a goddess springing from a clam, and thousand-armed and thousand-eyed deity whose multiple arms and eyes symbolize the infinite powers of her saving compassion,” [1]. The aspect of being a fisherwoman may explain why the creator of this statue displayed her standing on a fish with long whiskers.

fosterbrooke_85809_9610732_IMG_4986

I also found another image of Kuan Yin where she is surrounded by the sea and confirms that this was a common view of her in Chinese culture.

fosterbrooke_85809_9610733_GuanYinPuSa58      [4]

The gender fluidity of Kuan Yin’s story as well as her essence of compassion, perseverance, and wisdom clearly explains why she is a modern day inspiration the LGBTQ community.

The discovery that statues of Kuan Yin are being used for the same purpose by a variety of different people expresses how significant Buddhism and other religions have been all around the world. Idols and statues like this one of the bodhisattva, Kuan Yin, reinforce the importance of divination and guidance across cultures and throughout the passage of time.

 

((Brooke Foster)) Written as part of the ANTH1253 2018 Spring Semester Class Project

Works Cited

[1] Bailey, Cathryn. 2009. “Embracing the Icon: The Feminist Potential of the Trans Bodhisattva,

Kuan Yin.” Hypatia. 24(3): 178-196.

[2] Ethnology. 1956. “Porcelain Statue.” Museum of the University of Oklahoma. E/55-56/18/29.

[3] Hay, Jonathan. 1999. “Culture, Ethnicity, and Empire in the Work of Two Eighteenth-Century

‘Eccentric’ Artists.”Anthropology and Aesthetics 35: 201-223.

[4] Raven, Shikoba. “I Am Creation.” My Kuan Yin, Shikoba Raven, 14 June 2011,

mykuanyin.blogspot.com/2011/06/i-am-creation.html.

Object: Incense Burner

Japanese Incense Burners

Accession Number: E/1955/1/007

Object: Two 4 ¾” incense burners

Location: Japan

Date: Unknown

Materials: Clay

Keywords: Japan, Incense, Authenticity, Tradition

espinozasantos_76205_9645364_20180213_095259

The objects that were researched are two 4 ¾” inches clay incense burners. They were collected by the museum in 1955 without a known age and were given to the donor by a missionary that went to Japan named Victor Searle. The incense burners have a conical base and a spherical top with a cylindrical opening on top of the sphere where one would put the incense sticks as well as caps to go on the top of each opening. The outside of the incense burners is simple in design and are unglazed, but each incense burner has two daisies made of clay and painted on the outside. They are unglazed on the outside but have a green glaze on the inside that gives the impression that it was not used at all due to its good condition. The overall condition of the incense burners is great with only minor cracks primarily on the daisies and a chip out of one of the lids. There is also a signature in Japanese characters at the base of each of the incense burners that is 深草焼. The characters are translated as Fukakusaki Yakinikuyaki.

espinozasantos_76205_9645363_20180213_095327

Japan is a country that is a country that is the majority atheist. Despite this, there are many shrines and other religious sites all throughout Japan. The two most prominent religions in Japan are Buddhism and Shintoism. The most well-known visually to those in the West are likely Shinto shrines, but in actuality, the largest religion in Japan is Buddhism[1]. This led my initial research into what incense burners might be used for in Buddhism. Due to the size of the incense burners, they definitely felt like they would be intended for personal use in the home. This would mean that the incense burners would likely be used at a Butsudan. Butsudan are shrines in the home intended for Buddhist ancestor worship, a practice meant to connect the living to their ancestors through offers and prayers[2].

Ryukyu_Butsudan

Example of a Butsudan. By “Tharos Tharos”  , via Wikimedia Commons

This seemed like the most likely possibility until its likely origin was researched further. The signature at the base of the incense burners seemed like it would be a signature of the artist who made them, but after searching online for the characters an article was found that discussed at Fukakusa kiln. The article discussed the history of the kiln and mentioned pottery being made there dating back to the 12th century[3]. It gave the impression of a traditional pottery kiln that was still continuing to make pottery even in the mass produced modern society that exists in Japan today. Once I explored the kiln’s website the conclusion changed.

https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&prev=search&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=ja&sp=nmt4&u=http://fukakusagama.com/room.html&xid=17259,15700023,15700105,15700124,15700149,15700168,15700173,15700201&usg=ALkJrhi6ztAvKEIq7En0n85PQbaMCo7CDw

 

 

That’s a link to the English translated version of the website so you can explore it yourself. The kiln has appeared to have become commercialized, but not so much that it loses its traditional appearance. The images on the site look like it has traditional pottery classes, but it also has clearly gone under some Western influence due to their addition of a “pizza making experience.” The current state of the incense burner’s original kiln combined with the fact that the incense burners had no apparent use it led to the conclusion that they were never intended for spiritual use. They most likely were simply souvenirs picked up by the American missionary on a mission to Japan. This brings the authenticity of the objects into question as traditional artisans might have crafted them, but they were not intended for a traditional use.

Despite the incense burners not having any intention to be used for traditional reasons I find that they are still authentic items. It can be looked at in a similar light to the “ugly jugs” of the South. Traditional artists in southern states had to adapt to the new society full of mass produced products to be able to survive. The Fukakusa kiln also had to adapt to the changing society of the post-war Japanese society. Huge influxes of Western culture and influence altered aspects of Japanese society and the Fukakusa kiln adapted to it. The addition of pizza baking in pottery kilns definitely does not sound like what would happen in traditional Japanese kilns, but in the society, they exist in now it is fitting. Remaining traditional always seems like a litmus test for remaining authentic to one’s culture or tradition, but as the world changes so do the pieces of the world and the Fukakusa kiln remains authentic as it progresses through a changing society. Though these incense burners may have only been intended for a Western traveler to buy while on a trip and that the kiln is now a tourist attraction with heavy Western influences the two burners exist as an example of a traditional art adapting to the change of time.

 

((Santos Espinoza)) Written as part of the ANTH1253 2018 Spring Semester Class Project

Works Cited

“Fukakusa Kiln.” fukakusagama. Accessed February 21, 2018. https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&prev=search&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=ja&sp=nmt4&u=http://fukakusagama.com/room.html&xid=17259,15700023,15700105,15700124,15700149,15700168,15700173,15700201&usg=ALkJrhi6ztAvKEIq7En0n85PQbaMCo7CDw.

“FUKAKUSAKI YAKINIKUYAKI.” turuta. Accessed February 15, 2018. https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fturuta.jp%2Fstory%2Farchives%2F10631&edit-text=.

Kim, Hyunchul. “The Purification Process of Death: Mortuary Rites in a Japanese Rural Town.” Asian Ethnology 71, no. 2 (2012): 225-57. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23339392.

“世界各国の宗教.” Ttcn.ne. Accessed February 25, 2018. https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww2.ttcn.ne.jp%2Fhonkawa%2F9460.html&edit-text=

 

[1] 世界各国の宗教

[2] Kim, 231.

[3] FUKAKUSAKI YAKINIKUYAKI

 

 

Object: Shadow Puppet

bellaspen_106967_9644650_blog post image 1

Object: Shadow Puppet of Hindu Epic Character

Accession Number: E/2004/2/001

Object: Multicolored and metallic gold painted shadow puppet made of hide with 3 controlling rods.

Location: Java, Indonesia

Date: Pre-1980

Materials: Hide (possibly buffalo), possibly horn, string

Keywords: Shadow Puppet, Wayang, Shadow Theater, Southeast Asia

 

The “Shadow Puppet of Hindu Epic Character” in the Ethnology Collection of the Sam Noble Museum exhibits many features that identify it as Javanese. These features include the joining of the feet at the base of the figure; the combination of a front-facing perspective of the shoulders with a profile view of the face, feet, and body; and the elongated neck and arms. In comparison to other images, Javanese shadow puppets share other features, including cupped hands, wrist and sometimes ankle bracelets, upper-arm adornments, complex head shapes, and elongated noses. [2]

[2][1]

Shadow Puppet in the Sam Noble Museum’s Ethnology Collection (left) and other Javanese shadow puppets with similar features

This shadow puppet is dated as pre-1980, and it is in good condition. The cutout figure is made of thin but sturdy hide, possibly buffalo hide as this is traditionally what shadow puppets of Java are made of. [2] The rods connected to the body and each hand are probably some type of horn because this is the material that was traditionally used. There are several small bands of elastic-like material attaching the main rod to the hide body, and bright blue joints at the shoulders and elbows that may be made of plastic. The rods that control the hands are connected to the hands with a string that is still very clean. Metallic gold paint is used most extensively compared to the multitude of other colors and covers the neck, chest, arms, and legs. The other colors include red, pink, dark blue, light blue, white, dark green, yellow, and light purple. The face is painted black with red and gold details.

Pictures showing more detail of the head, face, and torso of the puppet, taken at the Sam Noble Museum

The origin of shadow puppetry, which is practiced in distinct ways throughout Europe and Asia, is unclear, however, theories include precedents to Indonesian shadow puppetry from ancient Greece and nomadic tribes. For example, Plato described plays in ancient Greece in which figures were used to cast shadows on cave walls, probably as part of religious ceremonies. Nomadic peoples of Central Asia may have used shadow puppets made of leather as part of religious rites and ceremonies as well, using firelight to cast shadows onto the tent walls that they used as screens. The use of these puppets may have been continued among the nomadic peoples because of the ease with which the small figures could be packed up to use in ceremonies in their next location. Shadow puppetry may have been brought to Java, an island in Indonesia, by Buddhist missionaries accompanying Indian kings that invaded the island in the 6th century. Despite being introduced by an outside culture, shadow puppetry rapidly became a sophisticated and complex art form in Java that was distinct from other cultures’ puppetry traditions. [1]

Traditional Javanese shadow puppet (or wayang kulit) performances would take place over a course of up to 41 days and told epic stories that communicated philosophical and moral values of Javanese culture. The master shadow puppeteer, or dalang, would start each performance with an incantation. The solo puppeteer would be accompanied by an extensive musical ensemble that helped set the tone for each scene. The ensemble also played specific tunes to announce the entrance of new characters in the play. [1]

bellaspen_106967_9644658_blog post image 7A shadow puppet master, or dalang, mid-performance (http://beta.indonesia.travel/en/post/the-riveting-wayang-kulit-shadow-puppet-shows-of-java-and-bali)

In Javanese culture, the shadow puppet exhibits multifunctionality by serving as a theatrically functional tool of Javanese shadow puppetry while also serving as a store of philosophical and religious values. The “theatrical functionality of figures” is vitally important to the continuation of the shadow puppetry tradition in Java. [1] The assembly of Javanese shadow puppets includes movable joints and controlling rods because the main component of any shadow puppet’s value is its functionality. The shadow puppet in the Sam Noble Museum’s collection exemplifies ease of mobility with operating joints and coordination rods. The puppets are viewed as tools for the trade-like tradition of shadow puppet performance. As with any other traditional trade or art form, masters of shadow puppetry mentor young Javanese citizens who are their apprentices and aim to carry on the art form for the next generation. [2] In this way, the tradition and knowledge are passed down from one generation to the next with individual variation, as is indicative of folk culture. In addition to being functional tools, puppets serve as meaningful works of art. Shadow puppets were traditionally considered sacred objects, or pusaka, in Java. [2] Although the puppets are elaborately and intricately constructed and decorated, as exemplified by the Museum’s painted shadow puppet, the puppets also store cultural values that are most clearly communicated through every performance in which the puppets are used.

Shadow puppetry in Javanese culture is used to emphasize moral and philosophical values. One tradition that relates to this function is that Javanese shadow puppet plays begin with the evil characters on the left side of the screen of the play, and noble characters on the right. [1] Another traditional custom is the use of a 2D screen for performances to separate the audience from the play and emphasize the other-worldliness of the events and characters depicted in the show, although 3D screens are among the adaptations included in some modern performances. [2] Today, shadow puppetry is used to communicate the cultural importance and value of global topics such as deforestation and climate change. This is just one example of how new stories are emerging in Javanese shadow puppet repertoire that use many traditional elements and themes but addresses modern-day concerns [3].

 

This is a short video that summarizes the Javanese practice of wayang kulit, and includes clips of actual shadow puppet performances:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfydro4X2t0

 

 

Works Cited:

[1] Chen, Fan Pen. 2003. “Shadow Theaters of the World.” Asian Folklore Studies 62

(1): 25-64. URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1179080.

 

[2] Cohen, Matthew Isaac. 2007. “Contemporary ‘Wayang’ in Global Contexts.” Asian

Theater Journal 24 (2): 338-369. URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27568418.

 

[3] Diamond, Catherine. 2014. “Whither Rama in the Clear-Cut Forest:

Ecodramaturgy in Southeast Asia.” Asian Theater Journal 31 (2): 574-593.

URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43187442.

 

Additional Reading:

Cohen, Matthew Isaac. 2014. “Introduction: Global Encounters in Southeast Asian

Performing Arts.” Asian Theater Journal 31 (2): 353-368. URL:

http://www.jstor.org/stable/43187430.

 

((Aspen Bell)) Written as part of the ANTH1253 2018 Spring Semester Class Project


Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,695 other followers


%d bloggers like this: