Monday, 17 December 2007

Japanese Warriors

If you're in Dublin between now and 17th February, do pop into the Chester Beatty library in Dublin Castle and take a look at the Japanese woodblock print exhibition, 100 Aspects of the Moon. It's wonderful. The artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) did a series of a 100 prints all with some link to the moon with myths and legends, history and contemporary society. Interestingly you can see hints of modern day Japanese cartoon styles from Pokemon through Yugiyo to the Anime my kids are addicted to.

The Haiku tradition is in the prints too; the moments captured are often the moment just before a momentous occasion, or just after. There is a lot of poetry in them. You see Warriors in full battle dress contemplating the next day's war plans and composing some lines about the moon or a songbird. Wonderful. And I wonder how much Haiku or other poetry is being composed now in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The prints were cheap when produced and often used as wrapping or packing paper. The collectors Else and Joseph Chapman gathered the 100 in good nick over the years and donated them to the Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of New Mexico, USA, another highly recommended museum next time you're in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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