Friday, February 22, 2008

Visual Culture - Old Media - MFA

Kobayashi Asahina and Strange People from Foreign Lands

Work by Utagawa Kuniyoshi
Japanese Art Piece from 1797 - 1861

Woodblock Print; Ink and Color on Paper

I was originally drawn to this painting because of my love for Japanese culture.
From the food they eat, to their way of life in their highly advanced technological and artistic society,
I am fascinated, and wanted to know some of their history.

The artwork tells the story of Asahina, a warrior of the 12th century. In the work Asahina is surrounded
by representatives of the strange races he encountered on his journeys. Around him are pygmies, giants, winged people, dog-headed men, mythological creatures, people from india, siam and the "Land of Black People". All the people in the artwork share a love for sport, and Asahina is shown presiding over a sumo tournament.

In a way this artwork is glorifying the sport of sumo wrestling in Japan. It is from the MFA collection "Sumo: Japan's Big Sport". It is a tradition that dates back well into Japanese culture. The woodblock artworks show the combination of technical and artistic skills that japanese people and culture have always shown. The beautiful colors and designs are first produced by artists and then printers carved the design into the wood pieces and applied the color.
In the end the artwork is a beautiful representation of technical and artistic skills combined, aswell as
the beauty of the artistic qualities found in the Japanese tradition of sumo.

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