Field Trip! “From the Lands of Asia” at Pointe-à-Callière Museum, Montreal

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Yesterday, I finally made my way to the From the Lands of Asia exhibit at Pointe-à-Callière Museum here in Montreal. The exhibit has been going on since mid-November and I kept procrastinating. Earlier this week I found out it ends this weekend, so I knew I had to get my butt in gear and go!

I would have liked to wear kimono, but we had a terrible blizzard earlier this week and I knew I wouldn’t be able to trudge through the aftermath and spend several hours in a museum in comfort, so I decided to go subtle and wear a haori and kanzashi hairpin over a cute dress. The fact that I ended up wearing a ton of green on St. Patrick’s Day was an unintentional but nice bonus. But enough about me!

The exhibit was absolutely gorgeous. It featured over four hundred items from the private collection of one couple, Sam and Myrna Myers. It started out with ancient Chinese jades, followed by Buddhist artwork and artifacts through multiple Asian cultures, and ended with what was of course the highlight for me, a feature all on kimono! It was fascinating to see so clearly how kimono and Japanese art in general was so strongly influenced by ancient Chinese art and textiles before it. Watching the progression of how something you love so much comes to be can be intensely rewarding.

The kimono featured were primarily stage pieces and late Edo or early Meiji clothing, and they were all absolutely lush and gorgeous. It’s clear that the Myers were a couple of discerning tastes. I took over 150 photos, but I’ve chosen some of the best and most relevant ones to share here, but if you’re curious to see the rest there is a public album available on Facebook here.

Book Review – Kazari: Decoration and Display in Japan 15th-19th Centuries

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Kazari: Decoration and Display in Japan 15th-19th Centuries, edited by Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere
ISBN-10: 0810967480
Amazon.com listing

A very kind and generous friend of mine recently sent me this book she found while tidying up. Knowing my interest in Japanese culture and arts, she figured I would appreciate it more than a used bookstore would, and I am incredibly grateful. While this may not relate directly to kimono (though there are some gorgeous examples in the book) I figured some of my readers might be interested in this.

This book is a beautiful, lush photographic catalogue of Japanese decoration from the 15th through to the 19th century. It collects all aspects of decorative items, from paintings to dishware to kimono and shares them in large full-colour photographic plates. The texts are in-depth and interesting without being ponderous or overly academic, and the author makes a concentrated effort to explain terms transliterated from the Japanese. There are essays for each category and further elaboration when these categories overlap.

As interesting as the text is though, it is definitely the photographs that make this book worth the value. It is a large, hardcover volume, similar to a coffee-table art book. The photographs are huge, sharp, and full of detail. The book is far too large and the spine far too stiff to fit well into a standard flatbed scanner, but I have scanned a few pages as an example. I apologize for the shadow and blur in the centre.

I would recommend this book for:


– Anyone interested in the history of decorative arts in Japan as a whole.
– Anyone looking to learn of the evolution of practical and graphic design.
– Anyone looking for some lovely Japanese eye candy.

I would not recommend this book for:


– Anyone looking for procedural how-tos for Japanese art.
– Anyone interested in books specifically about kimono.

 

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