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The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight…
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The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty (edition 1990)

by Soetsu Yanagi

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1733101,276 (4.55)None
Member:samwilson.id.au
Title:The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty
Authors:Soetsu Yanagi
Info:Kodansha USA (1990), Edition: Revised, Paperback, 232 pages
Collections:Have read
Rating:****
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The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty by Soetsu Yanagi

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This series of Yanagi's essays was a lovely exploration of beauty and craft, especially the essays entitled "Irregularity": "Why should one reject the perfect in favor of the imperfect? The precise and perfect carries no overtones, admits of no freedom; the perfect is static and regulated, cold and hard. We in our own human imperfections are repelled by the perfect, since everything is apparent from the start and there is no suggestion of the infinite" ( 120). I think that my favorite essay is "The Buddhist Idea of Beauty," which includes: "Passing time cannot affect an object that is truly beautiful" (131) and "...anyone who admires Sung pottery or Coptic textiles is admiring without knowing it, the Buddha's signature. Anyone who is moved by the beauty of folkcraft is in reality being moved by the invisible power that lies beneath the surface" (136).
Later, in a section entitled “Shibusa” (a word that suggests quiet, pure austerity), Yanagi writes, “All works of art, it may be said are more beautiful when they suggest something beyond themselves than when they end up being merely what the are” (150). In this same vein, he later asserts: “Beauty dislikes being captive to perfection” (151), my favorite sentence in the book.


( )
  msmilton | Jul 18, 2018 |
This series of Yanagi's essays was a lovely exploration of beauty and craft, especially the essays entitled "Irregularity": "Why should one reject the perfect in favor of the imperfect? The precise and perfect carries no overtones, admits of no freedom; the perfect is static and regulated, cold and hard. We in our own human imperfections are repelled by the perfect, since everything is apparent from the start and there is no suggestion of the infinite" ( 120). I think that my favorite essay is "The Buddhist Idea of Beauty," which includes: "Passing time cannot affect an object that is truly beautiful" (131) and "...anyone who admires Sung pottery or Coptic textiles is admiring without knowing it, the Buddha's signature. Anyone who is moved by the beauty of folkcraft is in reality being moved by the invisible power that lies beneath the surface" (136).
Later, in a section entitled “Shibusa” (a word that suggests quiet, pure austerity), Yanagi writes, “All works of art, it may be said are more beautiful when they suggest something beyond themselves than when they end up being merely what the are” (150). In this same vein, he later asserts: “Beauty dislikes being captive to perfection” (151), my favorite sentence in the book.


( )
  msmilton | Jul 18, 2018 |
I have the 1978 edition -hardcover, cream coloured leather. I especially loved the sections on Raku pottery. ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yanagi, Soetsuprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hamada, ShôjiForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leach, BernardAdaptersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0870119486, Paperback)

This book challenges the conventional ideas of art and beauty. What is the value of things made by an anonymous craftsman working in a set tradition for a lifetime? What is the value of handwork? Why should even the roughly lacquered rice bowl of a Japanese farmer be thought beautiful? The late Soetsu Yanagi was the first to fully explore the traditional Japanese appreciation for "objects born, not made."

Mr. Yanagi sees folk art as a manifestation of the essential world from which art, philosophy, and religion arise and in which the barriers between them disappear. The implications of the author's ideas are both far-reaching and practical.

Soetsu Yanagi is often mentioned in books on Japanese art, but this is the first translation in any Western language of a selection of his major writings. The late Bernard Leach, renowned British potter and friend of Mr. Yanagi for fifty years, has clearly transmitted the insights of one of Japan's most important thinkers. The seventy-six plates illustrate objects that underscore the universality of his concepts. The author's profound view of the creative process and his plea for a new artistic freedom within tradition are especially timely now when the importance of craft and the handmade object is being rediscovered.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:20 -0400)

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