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  • The Multiple Modalities of the Copy in Traditional Japanese Crafts

Guth, Christine, 2010, Journal Article, The Multiple Modalities of the Copy in Traditional Japanese Crafts Journal of Modern Craft, 3 (1). pp. 7-18. ISSN 17496772

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Abstract or Description:

Moving beyond contemporary Western frameworks that have led to the stigmatisation of copying in Japan, Guth’s original article examines this practice within the cultural contexts of the production, use and display of Japanese crafts. It illuminates the complex, changing and, often contradictory roles of the copy in transmitting the techniques, styles, and values of traditional crafts, taking into account both its ritual connotations and its promotion through government legislation aimed at preserving traditional Japanese crafts. Guth contends that copying should be interpreted in relational terms, as a dynamic practice that makes tradition possible, and that copies are thus speaking as much to history as to modernity.
Guth’s critical approach was prompted by her sense that scholars had not sufficiently interrogated the significance of the copy and its associated practices in contemporary craft practice. Her essay focuses on textiles, ceramics, and lacquer – traditional crafts whose leading practitioners have since 1954 been designated ‘Intangible Cultural Property’ (or more commonly, ‘Living National Treasures’). In so doing, Guth argues for both the historical and contemporary roles of copying and the copy as valuable forms of technology and knowledge transfer.
Extending Guth’s previously published research (‘Kokuhō: From dynastic to national treasure’, Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie, 9(9), 313–22) on the institution of the system of National Treasures to take into account practices as well as art objects, the material in this essay was first presented in the context of a symposium at the British Museum held on the occasion of the exhibition ‘Crafting Beauty in Modern Japan’ (2007). It was developed for publication at the suggestion of the editors of the Journal of Modern Craft. Its contribution lies in its reassessment of current scholarship on Japanese crafts by making explicit the role that copying has played and continues to play in constructing individual and national identities.

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Identification Number or DOI: /10.2752/174967810X12657245205062
Date Deposited: 13 May 2012 14:08
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2013 19:21
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1017

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