Thursday, May 26, 2011

Books on Batik

These are a selection of titles that we carry on batik:

The 20th Century Batik Masterpieces by Tumbu Ramelan and Wisjnuwati Mashadi et al.. This beautifully illustrated book features Tumbu Astiani Ramlean's collection of Indonesian batik. The book is organised into chapters based on regions - Java, West Java, Central Java, East Java and Sumatera. Each chapter begins with an overview of the characteristics of batik from that region, followed by details of specific batik pieces.

Batik: From the Courts of Java and Sumatra by Donald J. Harper and Brigitte Khan Majlis et al.. The 71 batik textiles shown in this book are from the collection of Rudolf G Smend. Most date from the period 1880-1930, when the art of batik in Java reached its peak. Emanating from the provincial and stately courts of Yogyakarta and Surakarta in Central Java are hip, chest, shoulder, and head cloths in controlled, orderly, geometric patterns in natural soga brown, indigo blue, black and cream. Brighter colours and freer designs on the sarongs made in Cirebon, Pekalongan, Lasem and other towns along Java's commercial north coast eloquently attest to the blending of indigenous forms, motifs, and colours with outside influences. Southern Sumatra, with its Muslim heritage, contributed large shoulder cloths and headscarves, often bearing Koranic invocations. These extraordinary cloths are complemented by 16 vintage photos from the Leo Hak collection, which demonstrate how batik was worn at court and in other settings.

Five Centuries of Indonesian Textiles edited by Ruth Barnes and Mary Hunt Kahlenberg. Including many rare and antique examples, this luxurious volume introduces readers to the intoxicating and complex beauty of Indonesian cloth. Since the 1970s Mary Hunt Kahlenberg has been building her collection of exquisite ceremonial garments and sacred textiles from throughout Indonesia's chain of tropical islands. Dating from the past five centuries and brought together here for the first time in book form, these woven and batiked hangings, ceremonial mats, jackets, shawls, and head cloths form a stunning array that will draw the attention of anyone with a love of art, fine craftsmanship, and design. Large, elegantly presented photographs show the textiles in incredible closeup detail and full expanse, making it possible to appreciate their technical brilliance and rich colors as well as the dazzling assortment of intricate patterns and motifs. Including essays by leading anthropologists and art historians, this book brings readers into a world ruled by the belief that weavings communicate with and transform those who come into contact with them.

Out of Ireland: 50 Years of Batik by Peter Wenger by Peter Wenger. Peter Winger (b. 1937) developed his interest in batik in Germany and Ireland early in his life and has exhibited in Ireland and elsewhere since 1966. This 2007 catalogue from the Kilkenny Arts festival celebrates the 50 years of his batik works. Thirty-three colour plates illustrate the richness of his mainly abstract or nature-related textiles creations.

Batik - 75 Selected Masterpieces: The Rudolf G. Smend Collection by Isa Fleischmann-Heck et al.. This study of Indonesian batik is published to accompany the 2006 exhibition at the German Textile Museum, Krefeld. The 75 masterpieces exhibited are from the Rudolf G. Smend Collection, and an interview with Rudolf Smend is included. The exhibition also marks the centenary of the 1906 first major exhibition of Dutch East Indian Art in Germany. Drawings and archival black-and-white photographs illustrate specialist articles on the 1906 exhibition and on the art of wax design. Each of the 75 Smend batiks is presented in full colour with annotation. Bilingual in German and English, with glossary and bibliography.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Books on Islamic Architecture

Books on Islamic architecture:

Between Eden & Earth: Gardens of the Islamic World by Heba Nayel Barakat. A book that explores the history and philosophies behind the greatest Islamic gardens. In a visual journey through the colourful array of photographic images, the major surviving Islamic gardens are vividly brought to life, illustrating the glories of the past. Examined here are the splendours of the gardens of Spain, the marvels of Morocco, the courtyard gardens of Syria and Egypt, the enchantment of Ottoman Turkey and much more. This book was published in conjunction with a photography exhibition of the same name. With notes and bibliography.

Divine Inspiration: Seven Principles of Islamic Architecture edited by LucienDe Guise. Divine Inspiration explores the relationship between Muslims and their beliefs, manifested in the built environment. Just as Islam embodies a way of life and serves as a cohesive force amongst ethnically and culturally diverse peoples, it also contains a conspicuous aesthetic dimension. There is no essential difference between sacred and secular art in Islam. This allows Islamic architecture to symbolise the spiritual path of the religion, transcending the temporal considerations of form and function. Through the study of seven key religious beliefs, a cross-section of Islamic life and practice is united with the corresponding architectural principles. With bibliography.

Islamic Art: The Past and Modern by Nuzhat Kazmi. Islamic Art is a product of certain forceful factors that created a cultural milieu which was centred on the religious ethos and intellectual affinities inspired by Islam and its followers. This lavishly illustrated book looks at the artistic output of the Islamic civilization through the centuries, from the time of its inception to its interpretations in the contemporary world. The material is organised into: Art of Painting; Art of Calligraphy; Art of Carpet and Textile Weaving; Decorative Islamic Arts; Art of Architecture; Islamic Arts and the Modern World; and Major Dynasties.

Rethinking Islamic Architecture by Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi. Islamic architecture has never undergone a sustained period of self-criticism and creative renewal. Arguing in favour of a return to humility, humanism and the eternal values of Islam, the author shows a way out of the impasse in Islamic architecture by a close reading of the Islamic sources in tandem with a re-examination of the work of visionary Western modernists. With notes, bibliography and index.

Glory of the Sultans: Islamic Architecture in India by Yves Porter and Gerard Degeorge. This is a major volume on the built heritage of mosques and monuments from the Mughal period of Indo-Pakistani history. Photographs and architectural drawings are included in sections on: 1) the period from the 7th century Arab-Mughal incursions to the foundation of the Mughal Empire 1555; 2) the 14th to 17th-century period of independent sultanates; 3) the time of the Great Mughals, from Akbar (1556-1615) to Shah Zafar (1837-58). The last section notes Muslim and quasi-Muslim styled buildings of the British Imperial years with notes, bibliography and index of the monument.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Books on Madura

These three books are on Madura and the Madurese:

Across Madura Strait: The Dynamics of an Insular Society edited by Kees Van Dijk et al.. The editors of this volume convened a workshop in 1991 to gather the various researchers to explore the information available on Madura, which has until only recently been overshadowed by the more exotic Indonesian locations. Selected papers presented at the KITLV Sixth International Workshop on Indonesian Studies focus on Madura and its relationship to the Indonesian society at large. Anthropologists, historians, musicologists, Islamologists, rural economists, and students of ecology gathered to address the many facets of Madurese culture. Scholarly research and fieldwork findings support the individual discussions which examine historical development, environmental and anthropological idiosyncrasies, and cultural distinctions. The final essay by Didik J. Rachbini identifies current initiatives for improving social and economic infrastructure, and future trends of the approaching industrialization.

Madurese Seafarers: Prahus, Timber and Illegality on the Margins on the Indonesian State by Kurt Stenross. The Madurese are one of the great maritime and trading peoples of the Indonesian Archipelago. This remarkable study takes readers into the trading villages of Madura, with their remarkable tranditional vessels (perahu) that were powered by sail until the late 20th century, and examines their informal-sector economic niches, notably the cattle, salt and timber trades and the carriage of people. The book argues that the nature of village society, the physical characteristics of the island's coast, cultural traditions of frugality and self-reliance, and an appetite for risk all contributed to the enduring success of Madurese traders. During Suharto's New Order, Madurese seafarers prospered through their central role in the booming timber trade between Kalimantan and Java, using great ingenuity and quasi-legal means to negotiate state laws and regulations. Based on data collected during visits to remote ports and unlicensed sawmills in Kalimantan, perahu harbours in Java, and 'wild' beach ports in Madura, the book explores the inner workings of Madurese maritime trade during a critical period that brought this village-based transport industry into a modern and increasingly regulated economic environment.

Equipages Et Voiliers De Madura by Paul Piollet. An overview of the history of Madura, an important centre and entreport in the history of Indonesia since pre-Islamic times, introduces this study of the area's sailing ships. Maps, drawings, diagrams, glossaries, colour photos and documentation of the boats' registration and ladings together give a picture of the now diminished fleet and its associated sailing communities. In French.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Singapore Kid on What's Up

Our children's book The Singapore Kid was featured in What's Up.

It was also featured in The New Paper, as well as on the blog Journey About Raising Up Our Lovely Kids.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Books on the Samurai

This is a selection of books on the samurai.

Shinsengumi: The Shogun's Last Samurai Corps by Romulus Hillsborough. In this vivid historical narrative of the Shinsengumi, the first ever in the English language, author Romulus Hillsborough uses letters, memoirs, interviews, and eyewitness accounts to paint a provocative and thrilling picture of a fascinating period in Japanese history. The Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled Japan until the late 1800s, stayed in power for more than two centuries. Their fall was one of he most important events in Asian history. Also known as the Meiji Restoration, the shogun's ouster began as a reaction against the willingness to "collaborate" with the West. Many samurai took the shogun's position as a sign of weakness. These samurai plotted to overthrow the shogun and restore the emperor to his ancient seat of power. Murder, assassination, and intimidation soon followed. By the end of 1862, hordes of renegade samurai had transformed Japan's capital streets into a sea of blood.

Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156 – 1868 edited by Morihiro Ogawa. The arms and equipment of the samurai are widely recognised as masterpieces of steel, silk, and lacquer. This extensively illustrated catalogue is published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York from October 21, 2009, to January 10, 2010. The works featured in the catalogue - swords, sword mountings and fittings, armour and helmets, saddles, textiles, and paintings - include 34 officially designated National Treasures and 65 Important Cultural Properties, and are dated from the 5th to the early 20th century. Many of the greatest Japanese swordsmiths are represented in this volume, from early masters to Edo-period smiths. With glossary and index.

Training the Samurai Mind: A Bushido Sourcebook translated and edited by Thomas Cleary. The ethos of the samurai is known as Bushido, the Way of the Warrior-Knight. Here, Thomas Cleary presents a rich collection of writings on bushido by warriors, scholars, political advisors, and educators from the fifteenth century through the nineteenth century that provide a comprehensive, historically rich view of samurai life and philosophy. The writings deal with a broad range of subjects - from military strategy and political science, to personal discipline and character development. With glossary and bibliography.

The Art of the Samurai: Yamamoto Tsunetomo's Hagakure - The New Illustrated Edition of the Classic Japanese Warrior Code translated by Barry Steben. This new translation of the classic Japanese warrior code "The Art of the Samurai" by Yamamoto Tsunetomo (1659-1719) is presented in a richly illustrated format. The introduction discusses the history and many of the concepts of the work which had and has so much influence on many Japanese concepts and policies. With explanatory endnotes, a chronology of Japanese history, reading list and index.

Samurai Armies 1467-1649 by Stephen Turnbull. The Sengoku The Jidai, 'Age of Warring States', is the age of the samurai - the military aristocracy of Japan. This period, which lasted from the outbreak of the Onin War in 1467 to the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the early 17th century, was a period of endemic warfare, when a lack of central control led to constant struggles between the daimyo, 'great names', who sought to extend the influence of their families through political and military means. This book examines the complicated nature of family and clan that governed so much of the initial organisation of the armies, how this changed over the period and how battlefield tactics developed over a series of major encounters such as Nagashino and Sekigahara. With maps and colour illustrations.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Books that Inspire and Enlighten

This is a selection of books that seek to inspire and enlighten:

108 Ways to Grab My Apples by Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. These delicious bite-sized little quotes are based on Tweets, which are short quotations from Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, a modern spiritual teacher who is as dynamic as he is traditional. Placed within the context of contemporary life, love, struggles, stress and happiness, these quotes resonate with every one of us in almost every aspect of our lives. By sharing practical, profound and positive solutions with inspirational insights into relationships, career, family, friendships, animals, conflict and leadership, 108 Ways to Grab My Apples promises many delectable morsels that you'll just have to sink your teeth into.

Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Think and Grow Rich is a classic on how "the wealthy became that way". It teaches the famous Andrew Carnegie formula for money-making, based upon the Thirteen Proven Steps to Riches. Each step is clearly explained with a proposed action plan for readers to act upon.

Essential Asian Words of Wisdom edited by Steven Howard. Words are the building blocks of cultures, societies and individuals. People from around the world have long turned to the writings and thoughts of Asia's leading thinkers for insights on personal development, spiritual growth, virtue, success and the need for the continuous cultivation of knowledge. Reflecting on the words and thoughts found in Essential Asian Words of Wisdom will provide inspiration and motivation for your own personal growth and development. Over 400 motivational quotes and phrases from Asia's leading thinkers… plus nearly 500 proverbs from Asian cultures and societies, ranging from Balinese to Vietnamese and from Buddhism to Zen.

Women who Win at Work: Flowers of Wisdom from Visionary Businesswomen by Liane Sebastian. This book brings together wonderful and inspiring advice from 35 successful women, synthesizing the many helpful concepts, key points and values into an eminently reader, user-friendly format that will be a valuable resource for women. They show how it is possible to balance successful businesses with equally successful and healthy family, communities and private lives.

100 Journeys for the Spirit: Sacred, Inspiring, Mysterious, Enlightening by Michael Ondaatje and Joseph Marshall III et al. Travel around the world to some of the most spiritual places on the planet with a collection of star authors including Michael Ondaatje, Alexander McCall Smith and Andrew Motion Certain special places move us at a profound level - with a kind of inner beauty that puts us in direct touch with the spirit. It might be a temple, a church, a commemorative monument, a wayside shrine or a landscape feature that is saturated in the ambience of ancient sacred traditions. Such places are worth taking the trouble to visit. They add meaning to our lives, awakening a sense of awe, beauty or tranquillity. From the prehistoric megaliths of Carnac in Brittany to the Buddhist temple-complex of Borobodur in Java, from the giant medicine wheel at Bighorn, Wyoming in the USA to the Confucian Temple of Heaven in Beijing, this book guides the reader on a journey around a hand-picked selection of 100 of the world's most spiritually uplifting sites. Accompanying the superb photographs are evocative descriptions of each place, many of them from esteemed writers who share with us their personal responses in their inimitable style. For anyone who wishes to seek out some of these places for themselves, there is a helpful gazetteer at the back of the book giving key facts for visitors. By immersing ourselves in those special places where landscape, art and spirit meet in a radiant intersection, we enlarge our perspective on life. This book gives us the inspiration and knowledge to do so.