Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts with the label Clark Center for Japanese Art

A Museum in the Middle of an Orchard

The Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture is unique among its peers. It has an unlikely location in the middle of a vast orchard in the small town of Hanford in the Central Valley of California. Which makes it all the more interesting.

The Four Elegant Pastimes by Shibata Zeshin
The Center boasts of a considerable collection of nealy 250 woodblock prints, 500 scroll paintings, folding screens, sculpture, kimonos, baskets and ceramics. Unfortunately only a tiny fraction of these are on display at any given time. When I visited the museum this month, there were no woodblock prints at all on display. There was one beautifully preserved 6 panel folding screen, some baskets and ceramics and two scroll paintings from the collection. The museum is small so it would be impossible to show the full collection. It's best to check first before going so you are aware of what is currently on exhibit.  The two-part exhibition, Woven Identities of Japan, will be on display through January 28,…

Woven Identities of Japan - Ainu and Okinawan Textiles

Bingata kimono
In the first of two rotations, Woven Identities of Japan highlights the Ainu and Okinawan textiles from the late 19th c to early 20th c. Now on display at the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture in Hanford, California are kimonos and robes worn by these two distinct ethnic groups. The contrasts in the types of fabrics, ornamentation and color used by the Ainu and Okinawan people speak of their traditions, beliefs, social divide and geographical influences.

In  Okinawa, textiles were embellished with a stencil dyeing technique called bingata which was for the exclusive use of the Ryukyuan court. The Ryukyu Kingdom was established in 1429 and was a maritime power in Asia. Cotton, silk and banana leaf textiles were solely for the use of the upper classes  The kimono shown above is light and transparent, appropriate for the tropical climate in southern Japan. In contrast, the robes of the Ainu from Hokkaido in the north were made from elm tree or nettle fibers which …