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56 hits

  • Thumbnail for Demilitarized Zone:  Joint Secret Area
    Demilitarized Zone: Joint Secret Area

    This is the place where everyday soldiers from both North and South Korea have soldiers standing off, facing one another, literally on the border between the two countries. It is a very tense situation and tourists are under strict regulation as to what they can and cannot do.

  • Thumbnail for Changdeokgung Palace Guards
    Changdeokgung Palace Guards

    One of the famous palaces that remain standing from the Three Kingdoms era in Korea is the Changdeokgung Palace. Here are several authentically dressed guards at the gate and every 20 minutes or so there is a reenactment of the changing of the guard.

  • Thumbnail for Japanese Kodzuka handle with crescent moon and sea waves design
    Japanese Kodzuka handle with crescent moon and sea waves design

    The Edo or Tokugawa era of Japan witnessed an unprecedented flourish of many art forms. The rise of the samurai culture and the political fermentation of this unsettling time brought out with them a modern return of the dolmen style of the art of the Japanese sword. The styles of decoration and the variety of materials used in swordsmiths form a quintessential element of the Japanese literature. Japan's wealth of artistic creation demonstrates its interest in small things and the detailed treatments of them, giving evidence of remarkable skill and taste. For centuries, Japanese swordsmiths devoted their excellence in the art of decoration the samurai's sword-furniture. As part of the warrior's most unseparated possession, the Kodzuka functions as a handle or grip or hilt of the small ko-gatana knives. This iron Japanese Kodzuka is one of the finest representatives of the Edo Japanese decorative sword accessories. The etching style and the abstract delicacy are doubtlessly from the last great master swordsmith Kano Natsuo (1828-1898) or his pupils. The influence of Zen Buddhism of the time eloquently manifests in Natuo's unique choice of motifs and unsurpassed style (from the Otsuki School). His etching style has a distinctive sense of elegance, austere, reserved, and never overflowing. There is an intentional consistency of manipulating a commanding void that dominates the whole composition. The decorative elements employed are conceptual and minimal motifs derived from nature. This Kodzuka has the common plain oblong shape. Its outer face is sophisticatedly designed with a bold relief-etching (takabori or high carving) or raised decoration of a gold crescent moon in the background, partly eclipsed by stylized tidal waves. Some scattered gold dots on top of the waves hint the splashed foam. The Japanese have such great reverence of the force of nature such as big waves (tsunami). On the back of the piece, there are three Japanese characters meaning 'the nature of wild waves' (read from the bottum up). The waves occupy only the bottom right space of the Kodzuka, leaving a powerful void. The abstract and simplicity of this remarkable composition magnificently counteracts and redeems the sense of austerity of the handle. Its balanced yet asymmetrical layout signifies the philosophy of the samurai class: the dynamic between 'configuration/principle' and the 'material energy/vital force'. Objects like this are widely collected as works of art.

  • Thumbnail for Kozuka, detail of monkey design
    Kozuka, detail of monkey design

    Kozuka detail, mottled metal with respousse in gold and black. Design: monkey with horse on opposite side. Sheath for challenge knife (kozuka). Blackened steel and gold. Very fine workmanship and in excellent condition. This metal sheath is one of 16 in a two-layered lacquer box. Making sword fittings (menuki) has been an Art in Japan since the time of the machishu, the 17th c. Kyoto, Osaka, Sakai predecessors of the chonin of Edo (now Tokyo), the latter being the creators of Ukiyo-e. This sheath is of extremely high quality, something true of others in its group. Any are fit for a museum, but I chose this one because its decoration was so amusing. In Japan, the horse is a standard gift to a temple. When a horse is too expensive, a painting of a horse (ema) can be substituted. This knife sheath bears an image of an ema on one side. The square frame of the ema is shown and within it, a monkey holding a long line. The line goes outside the ema over to the other side of the sheath. There, the tethered horse gallops away.

  • Thumbnail for Handscroll: Treatise on Samurai Armor - section seven
    Handscroll: Treatise on Samurai Armor - section seven

    Watercolor on paper with gold border on top and bottom of scroll, depicting drawing of parts of samurai's armor including helmet.

  • Thumbnail for Handscroll: Treatise on Samurai Armor - section one
    Handscroll: Treatise on Samurai Armor - section one

    Watercolor on paper with gold border on top and bottom of scroll, depicting drawing of parts of samurai's armor including helmet

  • Thumbnail for Poster, Changing Roles, Japan, 1998
    Poster, Changing Roles, Japan, 1998

    This poster was photographed in front of a post office in Japan in 1998. The red triangular motif in the lower left is the logo for the "Peace People Japan." The interesting aspect, of course, is the depiction of a young woman, dressed in uniform, with wrenches in hand as she approaches a helicoptor. While much of Japan remains bound by tradition and roles defined by tradition, there is also far reaching social change occurring, with redefinitions of gender roles, etc.

  • Thumbnail for Japan, 1951:  Abandoned children fathered by American soldiers
    Japan, 1951: Abandoned children fathered by American soldiers

    Many of them are well cared for in Christiian orphan homes-but when they are older what will they do? Most Japanese people say, 'They are yours- take them.' But what kind of a welcome awaits them in race-conscious America? --This was the description to accompany this image as written by Arthur O. Rinden, the photographer. His description, which he referred to as a "script", was to accompany a slide show of the images for family and others.

  • Thumbnail for Japan, 1951:  Post-war ruins of the German Embassy
    Japan, 1951: Post-war ruins of the German Embassy

    German embassy building rubble across the street from the National Diet Building. --This was the description to accompany this image as written by Arthur O. Rinden, the photographer. His description, which he referred to as a "script", was to accompany a slide show of the images for family and others.

  • Thumbnail for Demilitarized Zone railroad
    Demilitarized Zone railroad

    One plan of unifying the two Koreas was to create a railroad which would run between the two countries, hopefully leading later on to better relations. Unfortunately, the railroad is finished to the point that was designated, but not connected as hoped to North Korea.

  • Thumbnail for Demilitarized Zone monument
    Demilitarized Zone monument

    A monument placed outside of the entrance of the Demilitarized Zone main building for visitors. It is a representation of the desire to live together peacefully, despite the torn state of the two Koreas.

  • Thumbnail for Mandarin square
    Mandarin square

    Embroidered square patch worn on front of mandarin civil servant garment to denote rank of wearer.

  • Thumbnail for Kozuka
    Kozuka

    Sheath for challenge knife (kozuka). Blackened steel and gold. Very fine workmanship and in excellent condition. This metal sheath is one of 16 in a two-layered lacquer box. Making sword fittings (menuki) has been an Art in Japan since the time of the machishu, the 17th c. Kyoto, Osaka, Sakai predecessors of the chonin of Edo (now Tokyo), the latter being the creators of Ukiyo-e. This sheath is of extremely high quality, something true of others in its group. Any are fit for a museum, but I chose this one because its decoration was so amusing. In Japan, the horse is a standard gift to a temple. When a horse is too expensive, a painting of a horse (ema) can be substituted. This knife sheath bears an image of an ema on one side. The square frame of the ema is shown and within it, a monkey holding a long line. The line goes outside the ema over to the other side of the sheath. There, the tethered horse gallops away.

  • Thumbnail for Tanegashima Rifle
    Tanegashima Rifle

    Flint and safety pin lacking, but otherwise in excellent condition. So, too, is the lacquered, fitted case, with its identifying mon, or crest of the daimyo clan for whom it was made. The firearm refers to one of the most interesting periods of Japanese history, and can be dated to a fairly precise time period, because such weapons did not exist in Japan before they were introduced by the Portuguese in 1543. The Portuguese had been blown off course in a storm and made landfall at Tanegashima, a small island off the coast of Kyushu (hence the name "Tanegashima" Rifle). This weapon is much more rare than a samurai sword because the time when it was in use was of such short duration. Use of such guns was banned early in the Edo period. This rifle is heavy! Metal fittings with lion on butt end. On lower surface of the rifle, metal fittings, as in sword furniture, with cloud pattern near the end (cf. smoke from firing). Halfway down is a flaming jewel. Back near the trigger, a 3-clawed dragon form in the clouds. Behind the dragon is a character on a round metal insert; then the trigger; on the bottom of the butt, another character. On the sides of the shoulder piece is further decoration (left side, cherry blossoms; right side, kara-shishi [Chinese lion-dog), and on upper surface is peony, often associated with the lion-dog in Japanese decorative arts. Above the trigger is a samurai helmet; on the metal assembly is another character, prob. the maker's symbol. Lacquered case is shaped to fit the rifle, and bears the mon of a five-petaled flower with circular petals, possibly a plum, within a circle.

  • Thumbnail for Tanegashima Rifle case
    Tanegashima Rifle case

    Flint and safety pin lacking, but otherwise in excellent condition. So, too, is the lacquered, fitted case, with its identifying mon, or crest of the daimyo clan for whom it was made. The firearm refers to one of the most interesting periods of Japanese history, and can be dated to a fairly precise time period, because such weapons did not exist in Japan before they were introduced by the Portuguese in 1543. The Portuguese had been blown off course in a storm and made landfall at Tanegashima, a small island off the coast of Kyushu (hence the name "Tanegashima" Rifle). This weapon is much more rare than a samurai sword because the time when it was in use was of such short duration. Use of such guns was banned early in the Edo period. This rifle is heavy! Metal fittings with lion on butt end. On lower surface of the rifle, metal fittings, as in sword furniture, with cloud pattern near the end (cf. smoke from firing). Halfway down is a flaming jewel. Back near the trigger, a 3-clawed dragon form in the clouds. Behind the dragon is a character on a round metal insert; then the trigger; on the bottom of the butt, another character. On the sides of the shoulder piece is further decoration (left side, cherry blossoms; right side, kara-shishi [Chinese lion-dog), and on upper surface is peony, often associated with the lion-dog in Japanese decorative arts. Above the trigger is a samurai helmet; on the metal assembly is another character, prob. the maker's symbol. Lacquered case is shaped to fit the rifle, and bears the mon of a five-petaled flower with circular petals, possibly a plum, within a circle.

  • Thumbnail for Japan, 1951:  Abandoned children of the Occupation
    Japan, 1951: Abandoned children of the Occupation

    The disasters of nature are terrible and those of accidents are distressing, but none surpass the human tragedies of war. Here is a group of children- with Japanese mothers and American GI fathers- whom they have never seen. --This was the description to accompany this image as written by Arthur O. Rinden, the photographer. His description, which he referred to as a "script", was to accompany a slide show of the images for family and others.

  • Thumbnail for Chairman Mao greets Red Guards
    Chairman Mao greets Red Guards

    A photo of Chairman Mao in military uniform greeting Red Guards at the outset of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

  • Thumbnail for General Charles
    General Charles

    Portrait of General Charles "Chinese" Gordon, dressed here in robes presented by the Emperor, who led the Chinese army to victory against the Taipings.

  • Thumbnail for Oyoroi  Samurai Armor
    Oyoroi Samurai Armor

    Oyoroi (literally "great armor") was the loose-fitting defensive armor of mounted archers that was developed late in the Heian period. It is made chiefly of leather and iron bound together to form horizontal tiers.

  • Thumbnail for Meiji Shrine
    Meiji Shrine

    The Meiji Shring is a controversial shrine for many. It is where all of the war dead are entombed, including those who were executed at the end of WWII as war criminals.

  • Thumbnail for Sixteen Sword Guards - Japanese term, tsuba
    Sixteen Sword Guards - Japanese term, tsuba

    Sixteen individual sword guards made of various materials.

  • Thumbnail for Sword Guard (Tsuba) with Octopus and Ape - reverse side
    Sword Guard (Tsuba) with Octopus and Ape - reverse side

    Sword guard (tsuba), signed Yoshinaga(?),and dated 1862. Curatorial files identify the work as in the Garyuken line of Nara Variation. Copper and brass. Excellent condition. This sword guard was part of a group of 20 in a three-layered lacquered wooden box. All are of high quality and this one was singled out only because of its large size and unusual decoration. The guard bears the image of an octopus attacking a monkey. The image is typical of late Tokugawa Period in being showy, with copper and brass highly polished and looking like gold. It is also a bit odd and unsettling. The sword guard has the quality that Gerald Figal calls “monstrous†(Civilization and Monsters, Spirits of Modernity in Meiji Japan, Durham and Loudon, 1999). As Figal points out, “monstrous†is a fair description, not only of Art in 19th c. Japan, but also of this chaotic, disturbed time. No less than the paintings or prints of Hokusai or the helmet discussed above, then, this sword guard captures well the spirit of its time.

  • Thumbnail for Wheel-thrown dark brown teabowl with brocade mat
    Wheel-thrown dark brown teabowl with brocade mat

    This teabowl, with its brocade mat and dark brown glaze, is said to have been one that was presented to soldiers upon their safe return in WWII. The teabowl has a right angle carved into the bottom of the foot; along the base of the bowl are Japanese characters; the mat is stripped aqua, mustard, forest green, orange, lavender and gray under a golden floral design with an animal all over.

  • Thumbnail for Tanegashima Rifle - detail of underside
    Tanegashima Rifle - detail of underside

    Flint and safety pin lacking, but otherwise in excellent condition. So, too, is the lacquered, fitted case, with its identifying mon, or crest of the daimyo clan for whom it was made. The firearm refers to one of the most interesting periods of Japanese history, and can be dated to a fairly precise time period, because such weapons did not exist in Japan before they were introduced by the Portuguese in 1543. The Portuguese had been blown off course in a storm and made landfall at Tanegashima, a small island off the coast of Kyushu (hence the name "Tanegashima" Rifle). This weapon is much more rare than a samurai sword because the time when it was in use was of such short duration. Use of such guns was banned early in the Edo period. This rifle is heavy! Metal fittings with lion on butt end. On lower surface of the rifle, metal fittings, as in sword furniture, with cloud pattern near the end (cf. smoke from firing). Halfway down is a flaming jewel. Back near the trigger, a 3-clawed dragon form in the clouds. Behind the dragon is a character on a round metal insert; then the trigger; on the bottom of the butt, another character. On the sides of the shoulder piece is further decoration (left side, cherry blossoms; right side, kara-shishi [Chinese lion-dog), and on upper surface is peony, often associated with the lion-dog in Japanese decorative arts. Above the trigger is a samurai helmet; on the metal assembly is another character, prob. the maker's symbol. Lacquered case is shaped to fit the rifle, and bears the mon of a five-petaled flower with circular petals, possibly a plum, within a circle.

  • Thumbnail for Handscroll: Treatise on Samurai Armor - section eight
    Handscroll: Treatise on Samurai Armor - section eight

    Watercolor on paper with gold border on top and bottom of scroll, depicting drawing of parts of samurai's armor including helmet.