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  • Import Substitution, Innovation and the Tea Ceremony in Fifteenth and Sixteenth-century Japan

Guth, Christine, 2011, Book Section, Import Substitution, Innovation and the Tea Ceremony in Fifteenth and Sixteenth-century Japan In: Global Design History. Routledge, London, pp. 51-59. ISBN 978-0-415-57287-3

Abstract or Description:

Chanoyu, commonly known in the Anglophone world as the ‘tea ceremony’, was characterised by its most famous 16th-century practitioner Sen no Rikyū as nothing more than ‘boiling water for tea’. Yet like much writing on tea, such statements hide the true nature of a practice that, since the 15th century, has been a driving force behind the production and consumption of both imported and domestic luxury goods in Japan. As part of her exploration of fresh interpretative models for the study of a practice that had far-reaching economic implications in early modern Japan, Guth first presented this material in 2008 at a symposium on global commodities co-organised by Warwick University and the V&A Museum, and was later invited to submit it for publication in Global Design History.
This article examines the culture of tea from the perspective of import substitution and innovation, following a methodological perspective discussed in an influential essay by Maxine Berg, who wrote the response to Guth’s contribution to the edited volume. Import substitution, as Berg has defined it, refers to the replacement of like with like, as when a luxury article that becomes too scarce or costly is replaced by a domestic product that simulates its appearance, but not its mode of manufacture. Guth complicates this idea by situating import substitution within tea culture discourses to demonstrate how imported ceramics from China and South-East Asia could be replaced with dissimilar ones through a process of symbolic inversion, and how these in turn could give rise to a range of innovative locally produced teawares that assumed the same luxury status as those they were intended to replace. In so doing, Guth demonstrates the importance of looking into the larger geographies in which both the production and consumption of Japanese tea ceramics were implicated.

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Date Deposited: 13 May 2012 14:04
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2013 19:27
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1016

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