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The Arts of Asia: Materials, Techniques, Styles

The Arts of Asia: Materials, Techniques, Styles
Author: Meher McArthur
ISBN 13: 9780500238233
ISBN 10: 500238235
Edition: 1St Edition
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Publication Date: 2005-10-01
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 256
List Price: $50.00

The first book to analyze and survey the extraordinary arts of this vast region by material.

Throughout history, the beauty and value of the arts of Asia have been derived largely from the exquisite quality of the natural materials from which they are crafted. Materials have spiritual significance in the Asian cultures that use them, and the art is often born from that significance. For instance, jade, because of its hardness and durability, has long been associated with immortality in China, while bamboo, which bends and sways in the strongest winds, symbolizes flexibility in East Asian cultures.

Many of the materials that are most often used in Asia were actually discovered, invented, or first worked there, and they pervade every aspect of life—practical, religious, and artistic. Often materials are not what they seem to a Western eye. "Rice" paper is made from mulberry wood pulp; jade is not carved—it is too hard—but abraded. Lacquer, now used for luxury decorations, was originally a protective coating on food vessels.

Ten chapters, illustrated with over 400 photographs, are devoted to the most significant materials: jade, silk, porcelain, lacquer, ivory, bamboo, paper, gold, wood, and stone. Each chapter is divided into three main sections: the characteristics of the material, its historical and social significance, its etymology, and its associated legends; the techniques by which it is transformed into art objects; and, country by country, the principal artistic styles used throughout Asia.

Complete with details of museums with major collections and of where to buy Asian art, and photographs of Asian art used incontemporary interior design, this book will not only serve the needs of the ever-growing number of collectors but also be seen as required reading for any student of Asia and its cultures.

Featuring work from: Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet, and Vietnam. Over 400 color illustrations.

Library Journal

Each of the ten chapters in this book by McArthur (curator, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena; Reading Buddhist Art) corresponds to a material-jade, silk, porcelain, paper, gold, lacquer, bamboo, ivory, wood, and stone. The chapters are similarly organized: first there is a general discussion of the essence of each medium, its origins, and its physical characteristics; next, working methods; and finally, a geographically ordered look at its styles and particularities in each Asian culture. As with Nicholas Penny's The Materials of Sculpture, readers will be able to understand the possibilities and limits of the medium under discussion and the ways in which that medium has served as a mode of artistic expression within its culture. The 435 color illustrations, generally of objects in museum collections, are of high quality. A bibliography and list of museums, galleries, and art dealers completes the book. Although the writing is clear and direct and the target audience is that museum chimera, the general public, there will be much here for advanced students and even professionals in the field. Recommended for general and art collections.-Jack Perry Brown, Ryerson and Burnham Libs., The Art Inst. of Chicago Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.