Asian Material Culture

Asian Material Culture

Marianne Hulsbosch
Elizabeth Bedford
Martha Chaiklin
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46n1dp
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  • Book Info
    Asian Material Culture
    Book Description:

    This exciting, richly illustrated volume gives the reader a unique insight into the materiality of Asian cultures and the ways in which objects and practices can simultaneously embody and exhibit aesthetic and functional characteristics, everyday and spiritual aspirations. Material culture is examined from a variety of perspectives and the authors rigorously investigate the creation and meaning of material object, and their associated practices within the context of time and place. All chapters in this volume are representative, rather than exhaustive, in their portrayal of Asian material culture. Nevertheless, they clearly demonstrate that the objects, seen as material evidence of culture, are entities that resonate with discourses of human relationships, personal and group identity formation, ethics and values, histories, determination of ethnicity, local and international trade, consumption and above all distinctive futures.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0817-4
    Subjects: Anthropology, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. 7-8)
    Barbara Watson Andaya

    Crossing the boundaries that too often divide ‘Southeast’ and ‘East’ Asia, the case studies in this volume provide a timely reminder of the great value of collaborative research. By the same token, they provide a testament to the ways in which the academic study of material culture has evolved to become an interdisciplinary field incorporating a wide range of participants, approaches, and topics. Furthermore, if we accept that the contextual study of structures, monuments and artifacts such as tools, weapons, costumes, ornaments provides a methodology by which to understand something of the beliefs and attitudes of societies other than our...

  4. ASIAN MATERIAL CULTURE IN CONTEXT
    (pp. 9-16)
    Marianne Hulsbosch, Elizabeth Bedford and Martha Chaiklin

    Material culture encompasses the tangible object, its unique features, production and usage, which in turn imparts the object’s cultural meaning as well as the conscious or unconscious, obvious or circuitous beliefs, values and ideas of a specific community or society at a given time. Indeed, as represented in this book, material culture has been the focus of scholars working in diverse fields ranging from the Arts and Sciences to Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology, to name but a few.

    Citing the Oxford English Dictionary, Buchli (2004) points out that the first time the term ‘material culture’ appears is in 1843. ‘However...

  5. MOON CAKES AND THE CHINESE MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL: A MATTER OF HABITUS
    (pp. 17-36)
    Elizabeth Bedford

    Asian material culture can be discussed within the framework of the annual Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival,Chung Chiu, and in particular the giving and receiving of moon cakes (yuèbıng月餅), as they are known in Mandarin, and the ways this specific custom and culture are linked. Given this context, the essay sets out to discuss the underlying symbolism of moon cakes and their meaning, their historical and seasonal significance as well as the fact that the festival is also steeped in legend and mythology, even extending to the fundamental canon of Taoism.

    Situated within this general framework, the discussion will focus...

  6. UP IN THE HAIR: STRANDS OF MEANING IN WOMEN’S ORNAMENTAL HAIR ACCESSORIES IN EARLY MODERN JAPAN
    (pp. 37-64)
    Martha Chaiklin

    Hair splitting is a colorful metaphor for the trivial, so it might seem the explosion of hair accessories for women in early modern Japan that actually split hair must be equally trivial. Baron Ino Dan, who headed both theMitsui zaibatsuafter his father’s assassination in 1932 and the Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai (Society for the Promotion of Culture Abroad) a non-governmental association devoted to promoting Japanese culture to counteract charges of barbarism in Asia, propounded this view. He assembled a collection of hair accessories that was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Chicago Institute of Art in...

  7. NONYA BEADWORK AND CONTEMPORARY PERANAKAN CHINESE CULTURE IN SINGAPORE AND MALAYSIA
    (pp. 65-102)
    Hwei-Fe’n Cheah

    For the past thirty years, the Peranakan Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia have nursed a deep-seated anxiety about their survival as a community. These descendants of early Chinese migrants to island Southeast Asia had adopted local customs and ways of life whilst maintaining the religion of their ancestors.’ They spoke Baba Malay (which incorporates words of Chinese dialect) and displayed certain external markers in terms of a preference for spicy food, adaptations of women’s local dress – the tubular skirt (sarong) and long blouse (baju panjang) or hip-length blouse (kebaya) – and some local customs such as the chewing of...

  8. EVERYBODY WAS KUNG-FU FIGHTING: THE LION DANCE AND CHINESE NATIONAL IDENTITY IN THE 19TH AND 20TH CENTURIES
    (pp. 103-140)
    Heleanor B. Feltham

    In the 1990s, shortly before Hong Kong was returned to China, the Hong Kong film director, Tzui Hark, made a series of three films set in the late nineteenth century,Once Upon a Time in China I, II & III. The first of these films opens aboard a Chinese junk, The General of the Black Flag Army and his advisor are ensuring an auspicious journey with a lion dance. The dance is vigorous, joyous, making use of the junk’s rigging like a tightrope, and accompanied by the loud reports of fireworks. It attracts the attention of a European ship in the...

  9. WORKS LIKE A CHARM: CULTURAL TOURISM, COLOUR AND ITS EFFICACY IN CHINESE MIAO TRADITIONAL DRESS
    (pp. 141-162)
    Samantha Hauw

    To think about hue and, in particular, its materiality is to work against the grain of a long history of its dematerialisation in Western science. As Diana Young (2006) tells us, studies in philosophy, art, psychology and brain science (Wittgenstein 1977; Goethe 1987; Gage 1983; Davidoff 1992; Lamb and Bourriau 1995; Hardin and Maffi 1997) and, subsequently, anthropology have neglected the ‘emotion and desire, the sensuality and danger and hence the expressive potential that colours possess’ by disembodying them, reducing them to mere ‘sensations’ caused by wavelengths of light which are referred to another part of the brain for processing...

  10. FLUTTERING LIKE FLOWERS IN A SUMMER’S BREEZE: HAIR JEWELLERY OF CHRISTIAN MOLUCCAN WOMEN OF THE DUTCH EAST INDIES
    (pp. 163-190)
    Marianne Hulsbosch

    Investigation into Indonesian jewellery and items of body decoration unearths a plethora of articles describing in minute detail the exquisite decorative elements and materials used, techniques employed, as well as their ethnic and/or tribal heritage (Beran 1980; de Jonge & van Dijk 1995; Ghysels 2001; Sachse 1907; M. P. Taylor & Aragon 1990: 46); in addition many scholars analyse their historical, cultural, symbolic, religious and socio-political meaning in society (Hoskins 1998; Leigh 1989; Summerfield & Summerfield 1999; Wilson 1994), or their place and role in private or public collections (Budiarti 2005; Ernawati 2005; Sri Hardiati & ter Keurs 2005). The spectacular array of jewellery...

  11. TENSION ON THE BACK-STRAP LOOM
    (pp. 191-230)
    Audrey Low

    Thepua kumbuis a sacred and ceremonial textile woven by Dayak Iban women on the island of Borneo. Historically, the cloth was interconnected with headhunting. When a warrior returned from headhunting expeditions, the cloth was an essential part of the elaborate welcoming ceremonies (Gavin 2004). In the ceremonies, the women, using thepua kumbucloth, had to alternately receive, shield, cradle and dance with the human heads. The purpose of these acts was to coax the spirits that were believed to be residing in the heads, to linger and confer blessings on the longhouse community. Prior to the triumphant...

  12. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 231-232)