Book Reviews from the Cleveland Museum of Art Library
- This list of book reviews stems not from my personal collection, but rather the impressive book collection housed at the Cleveland Museum of Art Library. The Cleveland Art Museum's Library is free and open to the public, and is the 3rd largest in the nation. The library houses many rare, out of print, and expensive art books. The Japanese selection is massive, with many books that have never been published in America or in English.
I did not have time to personally reach each and every book, so much as glance through for info relevant to our interests. These reviews are at a glance, but serve as a source of direction for those looking.
Title: The Politics of Reclusion
Year Published: 1997
Periods: There is a nice spread of many historical periods prior to 1500ad, going back to the Nara period. A good part of the content tends to be oriented toward the Momoyama period.
Subjects: Here are a few subject titles at a glance "The Politics of Aesthetic Reclusion", "The Physical and Symbolic Structure of Tea", "The Formalization of Reclusion Ideals and Models in Gozan Poetry and Renga", "The Adoption of Eremitic Ideal in Early Japanese Poetry", "Aesthetic Reclusion and Aesthete-Recluses", and more.
My thoughts: I flipped the book open to a random page to instantly find a subject right at the heart of Japanese culture: tea in politics during the Momoyama period. Flipping right to this subject means I am instantly in love with this book. This book focuses greatly on politics and isolationist themes in the arts. In the back of the book there is a great index, and book reference list to enhance your studies. There also is a glossary with the English writing followed by the Japanese characters.
Title: Illustrated Catalogs of Toyko National Museum Noh Play Costume
Year Published: 1987
ISBN: 03-822-1111 (could be wrong but is most likely correct)
Language: Half English, Half Japanese. Most of the Japanese is followed up by an English translation.
Periods: 16th to 20th centuries, don't be discouraged the style of dress is historically oriented and provides insight into period styles
Subjects: This book is a visual catalog of noh costumes and props. You will see fans, wigs, crowns, Koshiobi, Oguchi, Choken, and more. Sadly the photos are in black and white.
My thoughts: The only bad thing about this book is that it is black and white. There is a glossary with info in the back of the book that provides great insight and info about Noh costuming. Noh costumes are historically oriented and based providing a great platform for additional studies of period attire. I have never seen another book show so many different kinds of attire in so many styles.
One thing I would like to note is something I have gleamed from a variety of photos of period kosode: the ro weaving style or something similar exists. Having worn a ro kimono on several occasions, I can say its cooling ability is far superior to that of any lightweight cotton or linen.
Title: Kosode-to no-isho (Kosode and Noh Costume)
Year Published: 1965
ISBN: Non found, possibly due to being written in Japanese (which I cant read)
Periods: In the book I looked at, someone had taken the time to create and English reference index of the kosode and costumes in the book along with the periods they are dated to. Most of the examples are 16th to 18th century.
Subjects: Kosode and Noh Costumes
My thoughts: Great book, I just wish there was an English version of it! There are many color photos of historical pieces. There is also a mini guide to mons and stencil designs. If you are looking for an eyecandy book, this is one of them. If someone can translate this book into English, they have a treasure trove of info on hand packed full of period examples.
Special Note: There is a second book of tis, that is an English version. I have reviewed it next.
Title: Japanese Costume and Textile Arts (Japanese title was Kosode-to no-isho, the book previously reviewed)
Year Published: 1974
Language: Originally published in Japanese, this book is the republished version in English.
Periods: This book traces the history of the kosode in detail starting back in the Kamakura period and Heian period.
Subjects: The kosode and its history with many Momoyama and Edo examples. The photos are in color and in black and white.
My thoughts: Priceless, just priceless I must have this book for my personal library and am now on the hunt for it. If you are interested in the Momoyama period, and want to know more about the Kosode this book should be your corner stone.
Title: Illustrated Catalogs of Toyko National Museum Kosode Dress
Year Published: 1983 (?)
ISBN: None found (Possibly due to the isbn being written in Japanese, which I cant read)
Language: Half Japanese, Half English great mix of the two with easy to understand and follow info.
Periods: Mostly Momoyama into Late Edo
Subjects: Kosode and Kimono
My thoughts: The only draw back to this book is the lack of color and that most of the examples are from the 18th and 19th centuries. There are examples from the 16th century, but not many. All the same, the book has many beautiful kosode and kimono. I find the particular value of this book to be in the short and simple introduction that gives a brief history of the kosode.
Title: Kosode: 16th-19th Century Textiles from the Nomura Collection
Year Published: 1984 (?)
Periods: This book touches down on it all it even has a section dedicated to color ranks in fashion from the Kamakura up into Late Edo! There is an entire selection dedicated to the history of the kosode dating from its creation in Heian up to Momoyama.
Subjects: Here are a few titles of various insightful sections of this book: "Color Names and Their Literary Associations", "Chinese Influence", "Early Kosode Design: Late Muromachi and Early Momoyama", "Tsujigahana Designs", "Kanoko Shibori", "Measurements and Cutting Layouts", "From Dye Plants to Dyed Fabrics", and many more.
My thoughts: I must own this book. This book will become the new cornerstone book for my private library and collection about kosode. This book includes `how-to', info on personalizing measurements, details about historical dying, and more. The catalog of kosode is rich with many styles displayed that are certain to inspire. More so, I like that this book clearly defines which techniques and styles for decoration are used in the different periods. Kosode in the Momoyama were decorated with techniques different from Edo and so on.
Title: Kosode: Haute Couture Kimonos of the Edo Period
ISBN: None Found, most likely due to it being written in Japanese (I do not read Japanese)
Year Published: 2008
Language: Japanese, with a few pages in English in the back that explain what the book is about. There are scattered English subtitles on some pages as well.
Periods: Early to Late Edo
Subjects: Edo period Kosode and related items.
My thoughts: What a stunning and beautiful book. Most of the photos are in color. Just because this book is for edo does not mean it doesn't provide some insight, as it has a few kosode from VERY early Edo. I do not really recommend this book for research, so much as for eye candy. There are sections dedicated to combs, paintings, hairpins, games, a fumagation cage for kosode, fukusa, Noh masks, and more. There is an interesting section featuring antique kimono in famous works of art.
Title: Art of the Samurai Japanese Arms and Armor
Year Published: 2009
Periods: 1156 - 1869
Subjects: All about Japanese armor, arms, and the people who used them: the Samurai Class. Here are some items I have seen at a glance: a leather jinhaori (Momoyama period), Sword Fittings, a Crimson Hitatare (long Jacket) and matching Hakama (from the Muromachi Period), blades for tachi (from the Nanbokucho period, 1366ad), Mitokoromono (Muromachi period), Saihai (Edo), Hoshi-kabuto (Kamakura period), and much more.
My thoughts: This strikes me as the ultimate reference book for someone looking to build their own Samurai armor and weapons. This book is packed full of large full color photos of armor, and arms as well as detailed info about each and every piece including when they were built and info about the particular style of the time. There is even discussion about the different styles of warfare during the different periods, with cited sources for creditable info. Very insightful. Got a Samurai in your life? Get him this book as a gift.
Title: Chikubushima Deploying The Sacred Arts in Momoyama Japan
Year Published: 2004
Periods: The central focus is Momoyama Japan, with some references back into other periods
Subjects: The book is about a sacred island in Japan build during the Momoyama period. On this island there are a variety of sacred art artifacts and holy items as well as an amazing temple. Some subjects in the book "Pure Land Represented: The Decorative Program of the Interior", "Hideyoshi and Sacred Construction", "Religious Institutions in the War-Torn Realm", "Beyond Koyoto: Chikubushima", "The Toyokuni Festivals", and more.
My thoughts: Wow, this book brings to light a really unique element in Japanese history if not the whole world. This island serves as a holy treasure trove. The book provides outstanding documentation for its cited info and insights. There are many full color photos of the holy art works, and even temple maps and layouts of structures. If you are or know a scholar interested in religious history in Japan this book is a must.