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Handmade Culture

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. By foregrounding the web of interactions between potters, tea practitioners, merchants, warriors, and eventually modernizing intellectuals, the present volume tracks broader developments in the culture of early modern Japan. It concludes by examining the repercussions of modernity, particularly in the multiple reconfigurations of tea and ceramics in early art exhibitions, art historical writings, and nationalistic publications on Japanese culture.
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About the Author

Morgan Pitelka is Luce Assistant Professor of Asian Studies at Occidental College, Los Angeles.


Far broader in scope than simply a book about Raku ceramics, Pitelka's work adeptly challenges accepted notions about nearly every aspect of Raku's history, making a major contribution to the emerging scholarly paradigm for investigating Japanese craft traditions. . . . The importance of Handmade Culture to an international understanding of Japanese culture is clear.-- "" An important, comprehensive, and cohesive study of raku pottery. Pitelka's book has merit and importance for contemporary understandings based on mythnohistories, the assumptions that shape perceptions and appreciations. Handmade Culture demonstrates the value of deconstructing contexts of material culture through an analysis of institutionalized instruction, connoisseurship, and transmission of a cultural form as chanoyu shifts from a Japanese tradition to invite a global audience.-- "Studies in Art Education: A Journal of Issues and Research" [Pitelka's] book brings insight and clarity to the fundamental questions that lie at the heart of our apprehension of the past.-- "Impressions" A superb study of the Raku house of ceramics. It emphasizes not the Momoyama origins of Raku, but the four hundred plus years of evolution that are, as Pitelka knows, responsible for Raku's profound presence in Japanese cultural history. . . . [His] book is not a paean to Raku masterpieces, but instead performs the more significant task of identifying and discussing the issues behind this ongoing tradition. As such it defines the field and is essential reading.-- "Artibus Asiae" A meticulously researched yet highly accessible history of Raku. . . . Pitelka offers a new approach to interpreting Japanese ceramic culture, through the productive and social forces at work, and does so with considerable erudition and readability. . . . An exceptional contribution to English-language scholarship on Japanese culture.-- "Crafts" Pitelka has issued the first challenge to Raku orthodoxy, and his analysis is both responsible and courageous.-- "Monumenta Nipponica" [Pitelka s] book brings insight and clarity to the fundamental questions that lie at the heart of our apprehension of the past.-- "Impressions"

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