Washi and Its Reputation


Nederlands: Kusumoto Taki (1807-1865), alias S...
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Washi paper is interesting, beautiful, fun to make and an art form with many possibilities.

Here is the third installment of “Living with Washi”. Links to the other two posts are here:

“The Development of Washi”: https://lediarunnels27221219.wordpress.com/

The Discovery of Paper”:  https://lediarunnels27221219.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/the-discovery-of-paper/

In the Reference section (below) of this blog post, you can find the link to the parent site from which this article was printed in full.

Robert C. Williams Paper Museum A tool for mak...
Image via Wikipedia
Robert C. Williams Paper Museum A tool for mak...
Image via Wikipedia
■Washi and its reputation
 Towards the middle of the 16th century, Luis FROIS, a Portuguese missionary, lived in Japan and later published a book about Japanese history based on his experience. In 1590, the first Japanese book using movable type, the Christian Edition, was published on gampi paper. This paper was more beautiful and durable than any paper Europeans had known and they called it “plant parchment”. A Japanese-Portuguese dictionary of this period includes the names of many kinds of Japanese paper, demonstrating the extent of its interest to westerners. The Netherlands gained independence in the late 16th century and at the same time began trading with Japan. After the Edo (Tokugawa) shogunate adopted its policy of isolation, only the Netherlands was allowed contact with the country, and the offices of Dutch merchants in Nagasaki were Japan’s only window of trade with the outside world. When the Dutch painter Rembrandt harmensz VAN RIJN noticed that the paper wrapping lacquerware from Japan was both durable and beautiful, he immediately placed an order for washi, using it to create many masterpieces of etching. These works received great acclaim, and through this attention Japanese paper became widely known.  Engelbert KAEMPFER, a German doctor on a Dutch ship, came to Japan in 1690 and observed Japan from the point of view of a natural historian. After returning home, he wrote the Amoennitalum Exoticarum. One chapter of this account, entitled “History of Japan”, served as a guide to Japan and Japanese paper. Carl Peter THUNBERG, a Swedish botanist who came to Japan in 1774, gave a detailed account of Japanese papermaking and its raw materials in his book on the flora of Japan. Philipp Franz VON SIEBOLD, a German doctor who came to Japan in the early 19th century, disseminated information on Japan upon his return to Europe. He also brought back with him a great deal of Japanese paper and numerous paper products. When Japan opened its borders in 1852, European nations sent delegates to establish diplomatic relations. Rutherford ALCOCK, the first British minister to Japan, praised washi when describing Japanese arts and crafts in his famous work, The Capital of the Tycoon. He encouraged the exhibition of Japanese products, including washi, at the World Exposition in London in 1862. Washi also attracted the attention of the world at the Paris Expo in 1867.

Enjoy!

References: 

Washi and its Reputation:   http://www.kippo.or.jp/e/culture/washi/world/04.html

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5 thoughts on “Washi and Its Reputation

  1. Ledia, your well-written articles never fail to intrigue, fascinate and educate me in some way. I love to visit your page to see what new information I can glean for the day. Very nicely done, I enjoyed reading this. ~ Julie 🙂

  2. Thank you so much, Julie. I am glad that you enjoy the content of my pages. I look forward to seeing that you have come again to visit. Have a wonderful day!

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