IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN: A BRONZE LIDDED URN BY SH?MI EISUKE AT AGSA – TAASA Review June 2022
Jennifer Harris T he Meiji era (1868-1912) was dominated by Japan’s drive for economic parity and the desire to achieve the ‘civilisation’ of the West.
The hait?rei edict in 1876 prohibiting Samurai from wearing swords in public was not only the nail in the coffin for old social structures but also a major turning point for metalware artisans who were forced to adapt in order to maintain their livelihoods.
Seeking new lucrative markets abroad, their wares needed to appeal to foreign tastes. With a long history in sword making, armour and Buddhist temple regalia, Japanese metalware was considered by foreigners, notably the great British designer Christopher Dresser (1834-1904), to be the most skilled of all Japanese crafts and therefore commercially and aesthetically highly desirable...