14 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
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"Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156-1868" is the catalog from a seemingly unprecedented exhibit of samurai armor, swords (nihonto), sword fittings (koshirae), and war accoutrements displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2009, in partnership with the Tokyo National Museum and the Agency for Culture Affairs of Japan. The exhibit featured over 200 pieces of samurai art, including 34 National Treasures and 64 Important Cultural Properties, on loan from some 60 different museums in Japan as well as from private collections.
This book, compiled to commemorate the exhibit, is quite a production as well with over 350 pages including extensive, scholarly text covering the history of metallurgy in Japan, the political developments of the samurai era, and the evolution of samurai art in these two contexts. The photographic representation of the collection is impressive to say the least, with about 75 pages of armor, 75 pages of nihonto, 50 pages of koshirae, and 40 pages of clothing, saddlery, and artwork. Although the exhibit includes nihonto from the years spanning 1156-1868, a good deal of it is from the earlier part of that epoch, with a few good examples of early chokuto from the 5th to 8th Centuries, and then one noteworthy tachi or katana after another from the Muromachi through Kamakura eras including National Treasures by Kanehira, Nobufusa, Sukezane, Yoshimitsu, Rai Kunitoshi, Rai Kunimitsu, and Masamune to name a few. The text accompanying each piece includes measurements of nakago and sori, full translations (in both kanji and English) of the mei (tang signature), and a fairly detailed discussion of the significance of each piece. As another reviewer here says, the matte photographs do lack the kind of detail you'd really like so that you could see the hada (steel grain) and hatariki ("activities" of the tempered steel) of each blade, but they are by convention black and white and overall they're pretty good. There is certainly no other book in English that features such a noteworthy collection of mostly older blades from the warring eras, the periods when the quality of Japanese swordmaking is often considered to have been at its peak, so this is simply a must-have for any student or aficionado of nihonto. Like similar volumes from other exhibits, the catalog features koshirae that in contrast are mostly newer, with some wonderfully ornate Edo and Meiji period fittings made in the post-war era in which such artistic work flourished.
I own several of these museum catalogs from exhibits that have taken place here in the U.S. in the past few years, and this is clearly the largest and most impressive collection. The overall production quality of the book is very fine, the pictures are quite good, and the level of detail in the text written by Japanese scholars is unparalleled. These kinds of books often don't stay in print forever, so I would highly recommend the purchase while it's still available for the paltry sum of $40. Easily worth it for such a compendium.
18 von 22 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
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One day, when I was fourteen or fifteen my grandfather pulled me over to the book shelf and handed me some books and said that I 'had' to read them, implying that not doing so would condemn me to a life of ignorant darkness. One was The Red and The Black, another, Conrad's Lord Jim, I think and perhaps a third was Madame Bovary.
His point was well taken, in retrospect, if not well made, and grounded in a belief that there is a certain canon of knowledge that has a place in a person's education.
As such a library of books should be accumulated that help to inform one about the world.
I would put it to you that this is one of those books. As an art book, quite frankly, it leaves a bit to be desired despite the superb construction of its binding and the quality of its paper. For this reason one is happy that the book is made in Japan, because it has the look and feel of something well made and substantial and unlikely to explode or be recalled for any other reason. Actually, my complaint concerns the editorial choice to go with a matte finish rather than glossy, and not to photograph the exhibited swords in color.
This is a book ostensibly about art, after all and unless we are talking about black and white art, by God, I want to look at color reproductions. There probably is an excellent rationale for using a matte finish rather than gloss for the numerous excellent reproductions of Samurai 'Art' ranging from aforementioned swords to copious amounts of elaborate armor, highly decorative sword guards, fittings, scabards, clothing, and other accoutrements of war, as well as reproductions of period scrolls depicting more of the same. These are accompanied by mostly edifying text giving contextual information as well as interesting provenance details. Apart from some minor typographical irritations, e.g. in a discussion of a certain type of pig iron it is first identified as zuke and then as zuku, the accompanying text is generally lucid and informative. One does wish, however, that a broader discussion of the actual functionality of the pictured items had been undertaken for, while some of it was obviously ceremonial in nature, it is not made clear if all of it was, and it would be interesting to know just how effective the various armor and weapons were in their assigned roles. The weight of one set of the armor was listed once, I think it would have been interesting to know what each of the pieces at the exhibition weigh.
Likewise, this Metropolitan Museum of Art publication, includes many pictures of swords. A major constituent part of the Samurai sword is the pattern that appears on the polished metal. These patterns are nearly indistinguishable as pictured: A major shortcoming.
Nevertheless, this is a book worth owning. Not just for its large number of excellent, if matte finish, reproductions and extended essays but also for how well it demonstrates the very Japaneseness of these items. (Oh, and by the way, the book includes material earlier than 1156 as a means of tracing the evolution of the various forms of armor and sword blades.)
What is perhaps most impressive about this collection is the amazing, utterly amazing, continuity of forms and aesthetics that can be observed from the earliest items to contemporary Japan's artwork or, more exactly, cultural signifiers.
Such a unified cultural thread is really quite extraordinary. Consider, for instance, the English whose civilization is arguably as old as Japan's. Yet can any one identify a single continuous ancient English theme that runs through its culture today (Putting aside Shakespeare who one argues was channeling the Greeks and doing after a gap of more than a thousand years)? Englishness was once defined by its affinity to tea, a Chinese import, and to fish and chips (the latter, a new world import). Her artists, while excellent at times, hardly define the culture (Turner, Constable, Hogarth) do they? Dickens might have captured more than a moment in time, but one could hardly call any aspect of modern England Dickensian could one?
The Japanese, on the other hand, not only defined themselves through an aesthetic typified by the Samurai (one part of a greater contiguous whole), but have also taken its motifs to heart and woven them into the present day culture.
For this reason, what it says visually about the Japanese, I recommend owning this book. Also, I suspect it may become collectible; although I am unfamiliar with art books with Samurai themes so can't be sure.