Studio: international art — 51.1911

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Japanese Art and Artists of To-day.—III. Textiles and Embroidery

JAPANESE ART AND ARTISTS
OF TO-DAY.—-III. TEXTILES
AND EMBROIDERY. BY WILSON
CREWDSON, M.A.

The Japanese textile fabrics of to day show in
a most interesting manner how the ancient arts of
Japan can be modified by the people of that
country to meet foreign demands. It is stated in
Japanese records that the Emperor Jimmu, who
founded the Imperial Dynasty in 660 b.c., en-
couraged the manufacture of woven fabrics, which
in time attained such excellence that they were
given to the Imperial Court as tribute. During
the wars of the 16th century the industry nearly
died out, but was ultimately re-established by
Hideyoshi, in the suburbs of Kioto, a district
which has ever since taken the lead in this depart-
ment of industry. It is possibly owing to the
respect inspired by these ancient traditions that
Japanese textile fabrics, both in design and manu-
facture, have not retrograded since the people of
Japan entered into commercial relations with the
people of the West. Weaving is one of the village
industries of Japan, and as the means of commu-
nication between different parts of the Empire
were, until recently, not rapid, there is a marked

variety and charm about Japanese fabrics, which do
not show that dead level of manufacturing excel-
lence to which factories and the extensive use of
steam machinery have accustomed us in the West.
Every Japanese fabric seems to some extent to
possess the same charm as a piece of ancient
Greek pottery, which still shows the impress of the
fingers of the Greek craftsman who, thousands of
years ago, thought about and moulded the jar
which he hoped would give pleasure to those who
came after him when he himself was dead and
forgotten. It is this element of thought on the
part of the producer, which he anticipated would
be responded to by intelligent appreciation on the
part of the spectator, that constitutes the great
charm of Oriental art to those who have made it
their special study.

The sub-divisions into which the processes
of textile manufacture in the various villages
and districts of Japan may be divided were very
numerous; but many of these have almost ceased
to be made since the break-up of the old feudal
regime.

Brocades have always been held in the highest
esteem in Japan, and there are many Japanese
proverbs which tend to show how highly they have
always been valued. Perhaps the best is “ Kokio

AN ILLUSTRATION SHOWING AN ANCIENT JAPANESE LOOM FOR WEAVING BROCADES. FROM THE irSHOKUN]N
BURNI ” BY TACHIBANA MINKO (1ST AD., YEDO, 1770)

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