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. This is the second book pull and review from the library – this book pull is much smaller in size though I put in a request for almost 16 more books. The library was unable to pull them all due to having too many books from everyone else to pull, and too little time.
Title: Japanese Tea Culture – Art, history, and practice
Year Published: 2003
Periods: 1520ad to modern, lots of material on Momoyama
Subjects: Here are a few titles of chapters from inside the book to help provide insight and flavor – “Shopping for pots in Momoyama Japan”, “The structure of power in the field” referring to warfare in Momoyama Japan and how it was intermixed with tea culture, “Collecting power and ritualizing legitimacy”, “Nobunaga and Sakai”, “Tea of the warrior in the late Tokugawa Period”, “The history of Warrior Tea”, and much more.
My thoughts: Whowwwwww this book is pretty impressive and is a new one I want to buy. I really am impressed on the attention to social trends in tea that sculpted tea ceremony and tea in Japan into the icon it now is. There is a lot of great Momoyama period info in this book. There are also a variety of photos in this book of tea items dating to prior 1600ad which are useful for SCA reconstruction purposes. At the end of each chapter there is a wealth of notes and info that will provide you wit a lot of additional research material.
Title: Masterpieces of Tea Utensils from the Seikado Collection
Year Published: 2004
ISBN: None that I found
Language: Japanese, with some English notes and subtitles
Periods: Roughly 1300ad – 1800ad , lots of focus around the 16th century.
Subjects: A photo catalog of historical items used in tea ceremony
My thoughts: If you want to recreate a period tea ceremony set this book is a must. There are black and white, and color photos of many outstanding examples from a wide variety of time periods. There are some really pretty color photos of outstanding examples of the arts related to tea ceremony.
Title: Tea culture of Japan
Year Published: 2009
Periods: This book tends to focus on the single most critical and important period in Japanese Tea culture, the Momoyama. There are other areas the book touches into, however the heart of the book in terms of years seems to be the 16th century. The book does touch into Edo.
Subjects: A quick review of tea history, and then lots of examples of 16th century tea items.
My thoughts: This book really brings home how important the 16th century is and was for tea culture. There are a variety of colorful photos that show tea items trough many periods in history that help cement a clear understanding of how tea items evolved alongside the culture. Im going to buy this book and use it as a nice “introduction to tea” book to people who are exploring Japanese culture and need a friendly introduction to the history of tea ceremony in Japan.
Title: Yukei, Reflective Paths – Japanese Art, A Personal Passage Through Eight Centuries
Year Published: 2008
Periods: 13th century to modern
Subjects: Anything from the Japanese art world – be it a stone religious sculpture to a wooden dresser
My thoughts: This is by far the single most visually impressive Japanese catalog I have seen. This book is mostly full of very large, highly details photos of art items from many different periods in Japanese history. The subjects are greatly varied and touch down on many styles. This would be a nice coffee table book, not so nice for an actual research book.
Title: Turning Point: Oribe and the Arts of 16th Century Japan
Year Published: 2003
ISBN: 1-58839-095-0 (There is a hard and softcover version of this)
Periods: 16th Century Japan
Subjects: Textiles, pottery, Screen Dividers, Water Jars, Tea Items, and more
My thoughts: I really need to read this book, since the Momoyama is my primary focus in the SCA. I saw a lot of history addressed in this book, with many beautiful art examples from the time frame. The photos in the book are full color, high quality and pretty detailed with information provided about what is seen in the photo. This book is idea for someone fairly advanced in their Japanese cultural and art history studies. There is even some Japanese art featuring the visiting Europeans. The one thing this book is missing would be a glossary – there are so many new terms and concepts for me that I would love to have them neatly arranged in a very plain format.
And that for now is all I have from the library. This second review was suppose to be larger and include books dating back to 1926, however the library was unable to pull all the books I wanted due to a sudden surge in requests from many other people. In summary, there are many more books to review and enjoy. I could spend at least another week here and only then begin really making a dent in the 400+ books I have seen that they have in their library on Historical Japanese Arts. It seems like catalogs from private collections and exhibits are a great source for research.
I might be here one more day, if so I will try and get them to pull the very old books for me. I enjoyed the modern books, but I really wanted to see some of the super old books such as the one dating back to 1926.