Friday, July 22, 2016

A Modern Craftsman Needs A Cosmopolitan Mind

Culture is not genetic. Actually, one definition of culture is: the non-biological transmission of knowledge. While I apprenticed in pottery with Tatsuzo Shimaoka, my wife Jean studied Moku Hanga (woodblock prints) with Master Tetsuo Itoe. Jean is inspired by folk toys, especially Japanese folk toys. We were a couple of the youngest people in the Hanga club, where we studied with Itoe Sensei. One of our fellow students (the wife of the Master Kiln Builder in Mashiko) once said to Jean, "Our children will not carry on and preserve our Japanese culture, but Jean will!"
At the UofMN, I once had a Grad Student say to me:
"Why are you making this Japanese Shit? You should made American stuff." It was during the first invasion of Iraq. Another student was studying slip casting and was making slip cast toys. He threw an imperfect toy gun in the recycle and I asked if I could have it. I cut it in two and put it on a tea bowl, the grip the handle and the barrel sticking out the other side. I put an American flag in the barrel and VoilĂ ! and American Tea Bowl! I still have it today, to remind me not to be provincial and to encourage me to have a "cosmopolitan" mind (as my late zen teacher, Dainin Katagiri Roshi used to call it.)
Postscript: That Grad student dropped out the same quarter.
Today, with communications and access being so available, we have no excuse for not being aware of the greatest examples of work in our field, done in various historic times and in different places. We look to Japan because the highest form of ceramics aesthetics were developed there, driven by the unique tea culture, which really doesn't exist anywhere else on the planet. Doesn't mean you need to copy it. But, it is important to know the best examples of your form, be they Mino, Buncheong Sung, English Slipware or German Salt Glaze, Hopefully they will help us make our own work better.
Last week, I discovered that I am the 15th Great Grandson of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Does that mean I should stop making stoneware and start making Majolica? ;) No, but it sure is an incentive to lose my focus.

Lee Love is the 15th Great Grandson Of Ferdinand and Isabella

Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Originality vs. Authentic

Originality vs. Authentic
Here is a perspective I have always ascribed to. I sometimes call it novelty vs. genuine. Coleridge called it Fancy vs. Imagination and Hamada called it style vs. feeling. Feeling in the manner of being substantial and deep.


I once heard a historian say, “The mark of the fall of a great empire is when its love of novelty become the love of the Grotesque.” Because many university studio trained artists, critics, professors and gallery people don’t understand this, functional ceramics is at a disadvantage when they compare it to clay sculpture. For the most part, clay sculpture, unless it’s strongly referencing its medium, should be compared to and compete against other sculpture and fine art and not pots. Unless we do something to revive the special place functional ceramics has in the history of civilization, I am afraid it will again fall into obscurity.
Originality vs. Authenticity
Maybe you fear that you are not original enough. Maybe that's the problem you're worried that your ideas are commonplace and pedestrian, and therefore unworthy of creation.
Aspiring writers will often tell me '"I have an idea, but I'm afraid it's already been done.'' Well, yes, it probably has already been done. Most things have already been done but they have not yet been done by you. By the time Shakespeare was finished with his run on life, he'd pretty n1uch covered every story line there is, but that hasn't stopped nearly five centuries of writers from ex­ploring the same story lines all over again. (And remember, many of those stories were already cliches long before even Shakespeare got his hands on them.) When Picasso saw the ancient cave paintings at Lascaux, he reportedly said, "We have learned nothing in twelve thousand years" which is probably true, but so what? So what if we repeat the same themes? So what if we circle around the same ideas, again and again, generation after generation? So what if every new generation feels the same urges and asks the same questions that humans have been feeling and asking for years? We're all related, after all, so there's going to be some repetition of creative in­stinct. Everything reminds us of something. But once you put your own expression and passion behind an idea, that idea becomes yours. Anyhow, the older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I'm far more moved by au­thenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me. Just say what you want to say, then, and say it with all your heart. Share whatever you are driven to share. If it's authentic enough, believe n1e it will feel original.
From the book: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Sunday, July 03, 2016

A Good Friend

The Buddha also taught that if you come across a true friend–one who is noble, fearless, thoughtful, and wise–then walk with that friend in peace. If you find such a friend, you can walk together for life. But don’t be too eager to find such a friend. If you become greedy for such a friend, you will be disappointed, and you will not be able to live in peace and harmony with others.
Learning to live alone also means that, whatever the situation, you have to live quietly. All you have to do is just walk, step-by-step. It’s not so easy, but it’s very important for us. And if we are not too greedy, the good friend will appear.
In ancient times in India, people would look to find such a good friend meditating in the forest. If they found such a person, they would sit with him. This is how it was with Buddha. As people began to gather around him, he called them shravakas, which means “listeners.” The relationship between the Buddha and those who came to listen to his teaching was not like that of a boss and an employee or a parent and child. It was more like that of a master and an apprentice. If you go to see and listen to such a wise friend, you are not a student, exactly; you are just a listener. The idea of being called a student came about in a later age.
At the time of the Buddha, there were four castes of people, and depending on caste, there were many formal rules for how people should address one another. But the Buddha was beyond classifying or discriminating among people. He used the same kind, gentle, and polite form of expression to address everyone, no matter what the station. He only said, “Welcome.” That’s it. People didn’t go through any particular ceremony that certified them as followers of the Buddha. They just received this simple greeting. This is the origin of the sangha.
In Sanskrit the term sangha literally means “group.” It was used to refer to religious groups as well as political groups. When the Buddha visited different regions, the people would gather together to listen to his teaching and to practice together. Then, after he left, they would settle into small groups or take up traveling.
Today, how do we find a wise friend? I don’t know. There is no particular pattern. But even though you might not find a good friend in the world, still you can find a good friend in the example of the Buddha. And if you do come across such a friend, walk with him. Just remember, if this person is a good friend for you, he is also a good friend for others, so don’t attach too strongly to him.
You can feel something from such persons as you walk with them. And remember, though they are human beings living now, through them you can meet the Buddha. And through the Buddha, you can see such a good, pure friend.
–Dainin Katagiri, You Have to Say Something: Manifesting Zen Insight, pp. 54-55.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Japanese Modernisation and Mingei Theory: Cultural Nationalism and Oriental Orientalism

Excellent review of expensive book on Mingei.   Folks don't always understand that "The Unknown Craftsman" was an artificial intellectual construct create by Soetsu Yanagi.   The Unknown Craftsman Pureland Buddhism was a good way to try to understand the peasant craftsman, but Zen is a better guide for the modern educated studio potter.

Japanese Modernisation and Mingei Theory: Cultural Nationalism and Oriental Orientalism
"Janet Leach has left an account of her visit to Mashiko, at a time when the master, surrounded by apprentices and assistants, was preparing for an exhibition at one of the Tokyo department stores, and she mentions in passing that the Hamada establishment annually pumped out thirty thousand pots. In the face of these developments, Yanagi had finally to admit that while “no-mindedness” remained preferable to individualism, nevertheless the artist-craftsmen could still fill the role of teaching us to appreciate the work of the unknown craftsmen. At the same time, the quality of formerly anonymous craft work was deteriorating rapidly. Once mingei became popular, potters in the old crafts villages raced to fill the demand, and visitors found themselves facing acres of what has aptly been called ethnokitsch."

Fritz Levy
Professor emeritus, Department of History, University of Washington

Friday, June 12, 2015

Handmade Culture: Raku Potters, Patrons, and Tea Practitioners in Japan

What I have learned about Korean Buncheong ware and its influences upon Western Studio pottery has been remarkable.   Raku has also left it's imprint.    The potters and patrons who made raku were the first Studio potters, dating back over 400 years.    Morgan gives a historian's view of the tradtion, which is not what the tea and raku people present which is more legend than history.   I highly recommend this book.

 Raku potters, like myself, were urban potters firing small kilns, often inside a small building.    They lived close to their customers and patrons, unlike people firing large wood kiln in the countryside.  This intimacy allowed the potter and patrons to work together to create a tradition.

Handmade Culture: Raku Potters, Patrons, and Tea Practitioners in Japan
Author: Pitelka, Morgan;

Categories256pp. October 2005
Paper - Price: $31.00ISBN: 978-0-8248-2970-4
Handmade Culture is the first comprehensive and cohesive study in any language to examine Raku, one of Japan’s most famous arts and a pottery technique practiced around the world. More than a history of ceramics, this innovative work considers four centuries of cultural invention and reinvention during times of both political stasis and socioeconomic upheaval. It combines scholarly erudition with an accessible story through its lively and lucid prose and its generous illustrations. The author’s own experiences as the son of a professional potter and a historian inform his unique interdisciplinary approach, manifested particularly in his sensitivity to both technical ceramic issues and theoretical historical concerns.Handmade Culture makes ample use of archaeological evidence, heirloom ceramics, tea diaries, letters, woodblock prints, and gazetteers and other publications to narrate the compelling history of Raku, a fresh approach that sheds light not only on an important traditional art from Japan, but on the study of cultural history itself.
54 illus., 3 maps

Sunday, February 08, 2015

A Japanese William Morris: Yanagi Soetsu and Mingei Theory

Yuko Kikuchi

Yanagi Soetsu (1889-1961)1 was a philosopher and a leader of the Mingei move­ ment in Japan. Mingei literally means 'art of the people ', hence folk-crafts. Yanagi created Mingei theory in the 1920s. It was one of the first modern crafts/design theories in Japan. The Mingei movement developed nationwide campaignfor threvival of folk-crafts from the 1930s onwards, its members united and nourished by cultural ethnic nationalism. Mingei theory is essentia llset of ideasabout 'criterion of beauty' in which Yanagi created a concept of the supreme beauty of hand-made folk-crafts for ordinary use, made by unknown craftsmenworking in groups, free of ego and of the desirto be famous or rich, merely working to earn their daily bread.2
Yanagi Soetsu was born in Tokyo, into a distinguished upper-class family. He experienced the turmoil of Japanese modernisation. His views reflect metropolitan culture, his upper-class background, and the complex struggles of the intellectuals of the time to find Japanese cultural ethnic identity in anenvironment of overwhelming westernisation .
His life can be divided into four stages. The first stage is westernisation He read vigorously and thoroughly absorbed western science, philosophy, literature and artHe acquired the most updated knowledge from the West, surprisingly without a big time lag.For example, he followed the current issues in art by readingmajor European art magazinesuch as The Studio. The Post-Impressionists' concept of 'primitive art'
was particularly influential. The Post-Impressionists ,written by C. L. Hind, published
in 1911,so excited Yanagi and his friends that they continued discussions 'every night throughout the week'.3 In 1912, he published an article, 'Revo lution in Art' which is digest of Frank Rutter's book of the same title published in 1910, and in 1913 he translated Roger Fry's essay in the catalogue of the 'Manet and the Post­ Impressionists' exhibition held at the Grafton Galleries, London, in 1910. His translation appeared in Shirakaba (White Birch), an influential magazine which
concentrated, on Western art and literature4 of which Yanagi was a founder. He also absorbed anti-rational ideas during his ten years of intensive research into various branches of mysticism, including Christian mysticism, SufismZen Buddhism and philosophy, in particular, the thoughts of his contemporaries, William James and Henri Bergson He was also fascinated by William Blake whom he first learnt about from Bernard Leach. When he was writing a book on Blake, Yanagi lived in Abiko, rural area famous for its lagoonand created there a sort of artists' and writers' colony with the ideal of 'back to the country', probably inspired by Tolstoy,the British Arts & Crafts Movement and the Wolpswede group.
Through his research on mysticism he developed hiinterests in medievalism,

gothic art and religious art. He read Emile Male's Religious Art in France in the Thirteenth Century (1898and absorbed its aesthetic narratives of medievalismsuch as that treating of 'the beauty of the grotesque'. He also absorbed the idea of ethnic art with its emphasis on moral and religious purity.
At the second stage, Yanagi's interests shifted from West to East as he began to apply his now thoroughly absorbed Western knowledge to Eastern art. Hediscovered the beauty of Korean art ancreatehis controversial theory of 'beauty of sadness' which saw the characteristics of Korean art as reflections of itssahistory.This sadness can be expressed in the shapof pots, in designs sucas 'flying cranes and clouds' and 'willow and ducks', and in lines and white colours. This was his application oethnic art particularly in the coloniacontext- Korea was a Japanese colony from 1910. This theory of a 'beauty of sadness' was later criticised inKorea as 'colonia aesthetics'. Durinthis application exercise, Yanagi also developed his concepof national and ethnic identity in art based on themodern Western concept of the nation.
After his involvement in Korean art, Yanagi turned his eyes to Japan, and his initial interest was in Buddhist religious art particularly Mokujikibutsu, wooden Buddhas whicwere thought to be carveby a travelling monk called Mokujiki Shonin (17181810). It was while he was researching on Mokujikibutsu scatteredall oveJapan, that hfound folk-crafts in Japan. In 1925 he used for the firstime in is writings the term 'innate and original' beauty of Japan (koyuna/dokujinonihon no bi) in reference tokuji kibutsu. It iegend that hcoined thterm Mingei with hipottefriends, Hamada Shojand Kawai Kanjiro in 1925 whi le travelling. Mingei is in fact aabbreviatioof Minshuteki Kogei which means 'crafts of the people'. So in 1925 thMingei movement began. Yanagi wrote what came to be regarded as the bible of Mingei theory tided Kogei no Michi (The Way of Craftsand organised the first Japanese folk-crafts exhibition in Tokyo in1927. He aJso created a guild of craftsmen in the same year, which was similar to the idea of William Morris's Morris
& Co which will refer to again later. In 1929, be was invited by Harvard University
to lecture on Japanese art for one yearHis lecture series was entitled the 'Criterion
of Beauty in Japan'. This clearly articulated thinnate and original Japaneseness in Japanese folk-crafts, and remains as the crystallisation of his concepof national and ethniidentity in art which was grad ualldeveloped through hiearlstudieon philosophy and KoreaartMingei theory began showing nationalistic aspects morthan craft aesthetiphilosophy.
Yanagi founded the Association of Japanese Folk-Crafts in 1934 and published a new magazine, Kogei ('Crafts'). This magazine was published in limitednumbers
during the period 1931-1941, printed on exclusively selected Japanese hand-made paper with covers of hand-woven cloth and lacquer. It is one of the most beautiful book designs in Japanese book history. He and his friends such as Ito Chozo, Jugaku Bunsho and SerizawKeisuke further developed their interests inbook design and printing, inspired by Morris, Cobden-Sande rson5 and Jean Grolier.6Then eventuallin 1936, Yanagi established the Japan Folk-Crafts Museumin Tokyo, and thibecame the central institution of the Mingei movementanstill exists as such. Thidea of this museum was greatly influenced bthe Nordiska Museet in SkansenStockholm in Sweden, established by Artur Hazelius (1833-1901) as long ago as 1873. Yanagi actively travelled all over Japan, carrying out his research on folk-crafts, collecting, taxonomising, exhibiting and preserving.

In the third stage, from the late 1930s to 1945, Yanagi developed his .interests in the crafts of Okinawa and the Ainu within Japan, and the crafts of Japanese colonies such as Taiwan and Manchuria He extensively applied his medieval and primitive rhetoric and his 'criterion of beauty' His political stance became increasinglyambiguous in his evaluation of the crafts of Japanese colonies and in his arguments over Japanese 'innate and original' beauty, which he somehow managed to develop in harmony with the ultra-nationali st ideologies, regionalism and pan-Asianism associated with Japanese Imperialism.
During his fourth and last stage, after the Second World War, Yanagi had close connections with a Buddhist scholar, Suzuki DaisetzHe developed Mingei theorywithin a framework of Buddhist aesthetics. His Mingei theory was first established in Western rhetoric but now completed in Buddhist rhetoric. He undertook lecture tours all over Europe and the USA with Hamada and Leach, and made profound impact on Western craftspeople at the important International Conference of Craftsmen in Pottery &Textiles at Darrington Hall in 1952, presenting papers entitled 'The Buddhist Idea of Beauty' and 'The Japanese Approach to Crafts'. These twopapers were included by Leach iThe Unknown Craftsman, under the same title for the first paper but the new title, 'The Responsibility of the Craftsman', for thesecond.
The hybrid nature of Mingetheory becomes apparent when examined alongside the ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris. Yanagi mentioned their names, but hewas a great self-publicist, and in his many writings hstrongly emphasised the originality of hiMingei theories and their independence of any precedents. Many critics in Japan also supported Yanagi's claim to genuine originality and his views havnot beeseriously questioned until recently. Hiclaims, howeverneed to be re­ examined against firstly, the backdrop of cultural nationali sm in Japan which became prominent around the 1890s ancontinues to the present dayand secondly in the context of the popularity of]ohn Ruskin and William Morris in Japan from the 1880s.
ingei theory was created at a time when Ruskin and Morris were very popularTheir works were translated and introduced in various academic fields from the late1880s. According to my research, at leas102 items on Ruskin and 139 items on Morris had been appeared 7 before Yanagi published his own seminaJ work on Mingeiin 1927. In the field of art and aesthetics, lwamura Toru, leading art critic, and Tomimoto Kenkichi, a versatile Morrisian designer and potter, are notable beforeYanagi Tomimoto's article on Morris, published i1912waone of the earliest extensive pieces on the designer. Tomimoto also founded a design company in 1914,with ideas similar to those of MorriCo. He later became involved in the Mingei movement and was at one time a very close friend of Yanagi, but his rolin the formation of Mingei theory has long been neglected.8 A journalist, Murobuse Koshin also published three bestselling books in the 1920s that provided digest of ideasby modern thinkers in the West with particular reference to Marx, Tolstoy, Ruskin and Morris. He also popularised the ideas of Guild Socialism.
Two Japanese critics who have questioned Yanagi 's claim to originality were a Morris scholar, Ono Jiroand Mingei critic, ldekawa Naoki Ono said, 'in order
to truly absorb Morris's ideas, we Japanese neeto critically assess Yanagi's activities and theories' ,9 and ldekawa claime'Mingei theory is direct descendant ofRuskin and Morris' .1In this country, Brian Moeran haalso pointed out Yanagi's Morris connection Itend to agree with Ono, Idekawa and Moeran.

shaU now briefly outline Yanagi Soetsu's key ideas of Mingei theory by comparing them with the ideas of William Morris as well as John Ruskin. Yanagi classifiedcrafts into four categories: 11
  1. Folk crafts or getemono: 'unselfconsc iously hand -made, and unsigned for the people by the peop le, cheaply and in quantityas, for example, the Gothic crafts, the best work being done under the Medieval guild system'Ge of getemono means 'ordinary' o'common', and te means 'by nature'. It applies to common household objects and haderogatortone. It is a concept in opposition to ]otemono, artistic and refined objects of higher nature, including Individual/Artist Crafts and Aristocratic Crafts in Yanagi'classification.
  2. Individual/Artist Crafts: 'made by a few, foa few, at a high price. Consciously made and signed. Examples, Mokubei or Staite Murray' (Wedgwood in Yanagi'soriginal).
  3. Industrial Crafts: 'such as aluminium saucepans, etc., made under the industrial
    system by mechanical means'.
  4. Aristocratic Crafts: 'examples,Nabeshima ware in Japan under the patronage of a feudal lord or Stanley Gibbons in England {Makie in Yanagi's original).
Yanagi's theory was formulated on rbe first category. He prized getemono ,common household objects hand-made by unknown craftsmen. William Morris prized the decorative arts, which he called the 'lesser arts' in contrast with the 'higher arts'.
Their ideas shara modern aesthetic which contests the historical distinction of high
and low art, by prizing handcrafts bunnamed ordinary people.
Yanagi 's Mingei theory is centred on ideas of what he calls the 'criterion of beauty '
which defines the supreme beauty of folk-crafts or getemono. lt was most clearly summarised in a seminal book titled Kogei no Michi (The Way of Crafts), published in1927, and itessence was translated and adapted by Bernard Leacin 'The Way oCraftsmanship' in The Unknown Craftsman. BesideKogei no Michi, Yanagi gives
an illustrated representation of his ideas in a series of articles with the same title, th'Criterion of Beauty', published in 1931 after returning from lecturing at HarvardUniversity. It inot known whether Yanagi intended it or notbut it uses the same method as A. W.Pugin's book, Contrasts, published in 1836,contrasting thugliness ofVictorian architectu re witthe beauty of Gothic architecture. Yanagi's ideas were refreshingly new in the 1920s in Japanwhen littl e value was attached to folk-crafts or getemo noand largely overlap with those of Ruskiand Morris.
Yanagi's main project, developed from his medievalism, also has similarities with those undertaken by 'Ruskin and Morris Yanagi idealised the medievalenvironment as one in whicmakers could create objects of supreme beauty. Both Ruskin and Morriwere also medievalistS. ThMiddlAges for Ruskin and Morris were a time when aesthetic feelings, social life and religious sensibilities were truly unified in an Age of Faith. Although the sociasystem was hierarchical, everybodycould find a meaningfu relation ship with society.
ln order to recreate a medieval environment in modem society, Yanagi established a guild to resuscitate craftsmanship. His ideas were influenced not only bRuskin
and Morris, but also by the Russian Anarchist theorist, Pyotr Alekseevicb Kropotkin (1842-1921in hibook Mutual Aid, and by Arthur J. Penty (1875-1937), theBritish Guild Socialist and an architect, in his book Restoration of the Guild System..

It would be most difficulwithout a change in the social system. Under present conditions folk-crafts are dying, bad factory products are increasing, and the artist­craftsman works for the collector...
In mopinion, now that capitalism has killed handcrafts,.the only way is through the guild system. The finescrafts of the pa st were produced under it... BeautifuJ crafts were the outcome of the co-operation between craftsmen.
Associations for mutual help and preserving order. Order involves basic moralicy.
The morality guaranteed thquality of the products. It gave the work its character, guaranteeits craftsmanship, and refuseto allow bad work tbe sold.12

Encouraged by Yanagi's ideas, the craft guild called Kamigamo Mingei Kyodan (Kamigamo Folk-crafts Communionwas established in yoto in 192by four craftsmen. They created woodwork (mainlfurniture), metal work, textiles and did interior designs. Their major workwere exhibited in thFolkscrafts Pavilioat theImperial Exposition for the Promotion of Domestic Indu stry in Ueno in 1928. The Pavilion itself was designed by Yanagi, ancreated by thKamigamo Ming eiKyodan. Inside the Pa vilioYan agi's collection of folk-crafts, anfurniture nd oth er crafts created by thKamigamo M ingei Kyodan were exhibitewith theconcept of total co-ordination. This idea of total co-ordination is similar to Morris's Red Houswhich was designed by Philip Webb with interior decoration, furnitureand othecrafts by Morris's friends.
Ruskin founded the Guilof StGeorge in 1871, and under its name he carried
out various projects which ranged from craft guilds and land reclamation, to running a tea shop, and even roasweeping. However, in terms of craft-guilds, Yanagi'sideas have more in common with those of Morris Co. and the guilds of Morri s's followers such as AHMackmurdo, RLethaby anC. RAshbee in the BritishArts Crafts movement .
Yanagi, Ruskin and Morris certainly sharethe same ideas. They all prized craftsmanship and hand crafts. Thewere all medievalists, having as their ideaa society in which art and mora lity werunited. However, there are several differences, which I see as evidence of Yanagi 's originality. One of the mosimportant of these relates to Morris's key belief in the idea of 'pleasure in labour'13 or freedom in creativity. Yanagi always spoke of a Divinpower which he ca lled 'grace given by heaven',14 rather than o'pleasureand 'freedom'. A Japanese critic, Idekawa Naoki , emphasises Yanagi's belief that the craftsman was a 'human machine'15, destined forlabour-intensive repetitive work, who could yet unconsciously create beautiful things with the help of nature, tradition and Divine power. According to Yanagi, a conscious artistic faculty was disease which prevented the creation of supreme beauty. For Yanagi, 'no-mindedness'16 was the key factor in making craftsmen free from this disease. Morris, on the other hand, while praising 'an of the unconscious intelligence', 17placed his hope for the future in a 'new art of conscious intelligence'.1Inorder to attain 'no-mindedness', Yanagi emphasised 'discipline', relying on Nature and surrendeto 'the Other Poweror Tarikithe reliance on the grace of Buddha, asopposeto Jiriki othe 'Self Power', attaining Enlightenment through
self effort:

[The Craftsmenl may be unlettered, uneducateand lacking any pa rticular force
of personality, but it is not from these causes that beaucy iproduced. He rests in

the protectin hand onature. The bea uty ofolk-craft ithkind that comes from dependence on thOther PoweTariki). Naturamater ial, natural process, and an accepting heart- these are thingredients necessarat thbirth of folk-crafts•.19

According tYanagi, relying on 'th Other Power' actually means mak erfollowing tradition using traditional methods traditional natural materials and traditional formsand designs.
Yanagi and Mingei theory are widely known in thWest, particularly for their so­ called 'Oriental' philosophic slant whicgave a new dimension tO Western interest in issuesof crafts and craftsmanship. often come across favourable and uncriticaacceptance of Mingei theory in thWestwhere there is tendency cowards over­ mystification and anover-emphasis of its esote.ric aspects. However, far from being 'authentically' Oriental inoutlook, as is genera llassumed, Mingetheory is a hybrid theory, highly eclectiinitconcepts, witcore ideas from many European sources, such as British (particularlRuskin and Morris), Scandinaviaand German craft philosophie of thlate nineteenthand early twentieth -century,and Buddhist rhetoriand ideas from JpanesTea Masters of the sixteenth and seventeenth-century. Thpurpose of this article has been toemphasise thhybrid naturof Yanagi'Mingetheory and to encourage a more critical assessment of its originand aims.

1 Japanese names are all giveinJapanese order, i.e.surname first. Officially Yanagi•s given name is pronounced Muneyoshi but Iuse Soetsu by which be is more popularly known. Soetsu is the On-yomi pronunciation of the Chinese character for Muneyoshi.
2 Iwould summarise Yanagi•s Criterion of eauty as follows:
  1. Beauty of handcrafts.
  1. Beauty of intimacy.
  2. Beauty of use/function (functionain form and design).
  3. Beauty of health (moral naturof makers and physical naturof objects ).
  4. Beauty of naturalness (made with natural materials .
6. Beauty of simplicity (form and design) .
  1. Beauty otradition (method and design).
  2. Beauty of sincerity and honesswea(bunknown craftsmen, not for money
9. Beauty of selflessness and unknown (madby unknown unlearn ed and poor craftsmen ).
  1. Beauty of inexpensiveness.
  2. Beauty oplurality (objects which could be copied and produced in large
  3. Beauty of irregularity.
3 Yanagi Soetsu, Yanagi Soetsu Zenshu lCollected Works of Yanagi Soetsu](Tokyo:
Chikuma Shob1981), I, p. 567.
4 ibid., I, pp. 706-716.
ThomaJames Cobden-Sanderson 1848-1922), printer and book-binder, also a
founder of thDoves Press.

6 Jean Grolier, book collector, and associated with elaborate gold decorations of book-binding.
  1. For Morris's reception in Japan ,seeK. Makino, C. Sbinagawa, S.lco, 'Nihon deno Morisu Ken.kyii Bun.ken Mokuroku[A Bibliography Q{ Morris Studies inJapan], Morisu Matsuri eno Shotai, (Keyaki Bijutsukan 1991).
  2. For further informationsee YukKikuchi, 'The Myth oYanagi 's Originality: The Formation of MingeiTheory in its Social and Historical Context',Journal of Design History,Vo7, No 4, (1994), pp. 247-266.
9 Ono JiroKubo Satoru, 'Wiriamu Morisu to Yaaagi Soetsu' [William Morris and
Yanagi Soetsu], Graphicarion 12, 1979p. 3.
  1. ldekawa Naoki Mingei: Riron no Hokai to Yoshiki no Tanjo [Mingei: Collapse of the Theory and Establishment of the Style], (Tokyo: Shinchosha 1988).
  2. Yanagi Soetsu Zenshu, op. cit., 8, p. 211.
1Yanagi Soetsu, adapted by Bernard Leach, The Unknown Craftsman, (Tokyo and
New York: Kodansha lnternational1989) p. 198 and p208.
13 May Morris (e.), The Collected Works of William Morris(Lond on:Longmans
Green Co. 1910-15), XXII, p42.
'" Yanagi,'The Japanese Approach to Crafts', (Dartingron Conference Paper1952)p. 22.
Idekawa Mingeiop. cit., p. 70.
  1. Bernard Leach translated this as 'state of going beyond all formof dualism' in
    The Unknown Craftsman, p. 228.
  2. The Collected Works of William M orris, op. cit., XXIIp. 12.
l8 ibid.p. 12.
19 The Unknown Craftsmanop. cit., p. 200.