The game of meanings : a consideration of the messages conveyed by Japanese textiles in Edo from 1660-1886.
MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Chapter 1 examines the lengthy connection between Japan and the production and decoration of cloth, principally silk. The part played in the establishing of sericulture in Japan by both China and Korea and the significance of the textile in commercial, diplomatic and social terms is also considered. The belief systems of both Shinto,with its female/sensual undertones and Buddhism are examined with a view to the ways in which these systems have helped form the japanese character. The significance of the female principle, arising from the matriarchal importance inherent in Shinto and the connection of silk with that principle is examined. all of these areas in combination are considered as helping to produce the elements of the " game " of the title.
Chapter 2 considers the interdependence of textiles and sex in the concept of Asobi. The suggestion is made that there may be a continuous thread of textile employment in visual and literary terms running from pre-1660 to post-1886, putting forward the premise that it would be illogical to assume a break in this thread during the period under review. The use of textiles in shunga prints is considered in some detail, focusing on such areas of investigation as shadowing, the suggestion of fusion, the creation of tension and the illustration of passion. the symbolic use of the sleeve is examined and the contrasting use of clothing and nakedness is considered. Examination is made too of suggested movement, directional impetus, strain and compression. The chapter closes with a consideration of the textile-related metaphor.
Chapter 3 looks at the ways in which the people of Edo regarded themselves and their society. Using both visual and literary evidence, the chapter examines how the Edokku presented aspects of themselves, using their personal textiles and how they evaluated others.The concept of " viewing " is considered and the ways in which textiles were used to reveal or conceal the " looking " process. Strict government regulations of the period regarding textile use and the chonin reaction is examined as is the townsman's use of textiles to transmit personal messages. Aspects of the social evolution of Edo society as the period progressed is examined through the textile-related expression of Iki philosophy and the politically-orientated use of textiles in the prints of Yoshitoshi.
Chapter 4 puts forward a conclusion to the work of the previous chapters and considers the importance, not only of textiles themselves to the japanese people, but also the distinct interconnection of textiles and the written word, especially poetry. The work of Joy Hendry in this area is commented upon. Some of the difficulties encountered in the process of this research are explained, as are the reasons for certain aspects of textiles not being examined. The ways in which the research achieved its aims are explained and the chapter concludes with a possible way forward from the work of this thesis.
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