Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Books on Jewellery

This is a selection of recent additions to our collection of books on jewellery:

Gold Jewellery of the Indonesian Archipelago by Anne Richter and Bruce Carpenter. Gold Jewellery of the Indonesian Archipelago features more than 700 unpublished masterpieces from the tribal, ethnic and courtly gold body adornment traditions of Indonesia's outer islands - Sumatra, Sulawesi, the Lesser Sundas and Southeast Maluku. Made available by the Mandala Foundation in Singapore, these pieces date from the 4th to the 20th century, and many are completely unknown, extremely rare and of high quality. This is the first major book on the gold jewellery of the Indonesian archipelago in more than 25 years. Authors Anne Richter and Bruce W. Carpenter, aided by Mandala Foundation curator Achim Sibeth and David A. Henkel, weave together the latest research with historical photos, illustrations and their knowledge of the history, culture, art and mythology of the region to produce a groundbreaking new book that thrusts the virtuoso gold work of Indonesia into the international spotlight.

Ethnic Jewellery from Indonesia: Continuity and Evolution by Bruce Carpenter, A. J. Guerreiro and P. Heurtault. Ethnic Jewellery from Indonesia: Continuity and Evolution is a compelling introduction to the little-known and visually-powerful body adornments of the ethnic peoples of Indonesia's outer islands, including Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, Sumba and Maluku. The history of the jewellery is told from the perspective of the materials used, including gold, silver, brass, ivory, shell and animal teeth. Illustrated with nearly 600 photographs of rare jewellery amassed over 30 years by collector Manfred Giehmann, this book explores the depth and breadth of an ancient and magnificent tradition of the Indonesian people. It will provide information on the origin, meaning and purpose of the jewellery, as well as unique insights into the people who crafted and wore the jewellery for ritual or ceremonial functions. Ethnic Jewellery: Continuity and Evolution is a definitive work on the subject and a testimony to the living traditions of cultures usually shrouded in mystery.

Turkmen Jewelry: Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection by Layla S. Diba. The Turkmen people of Central Asia and Iran are revered for their carpets and textiles. Less well known, but equally stunning, is the extraordinary silver jewellery created by Turkmen tribal craftsmen and urban silversmiths throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. This catalogue presents nearly two hundred pieces in glorious detail, ranging from crowns and headdresses to armbands and rings, and featuring accents of carnelian, turquoise, and other stones. Characterised by elegant form, geometric shapes, and delicate openwork, Turkmen jewellery has typically been viewed through an ethnographic rather than an aesthetic lens. By highlighting these objects-which come from one of the most significant private collections of Turkmen ornaments in the world-and placing them in the larger context of Islamic art, this groundbreaking publication elevates the vibrant, monumental pieces from folk art to fine art.

The Jewelry of Southeast Asia by Anne Richter. A softback and shorter edition of the 2000 study of the Jewelry of Southeast Asia. After an introductory summary on the styles production and functions of jewelry in Southeast Asian countries over 350 items are illustrated in colour with explanatory notes. The remarkable range and variety of the jewelry indicate how since earliest times personal adornment has been part of daily life and has enhanced and adorned the royal courts and other power groups in Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Chinese diasporic communities. With map, bibliography, notes no materials and techniques, and index.

Jewellery from the Orient: Treasures from the Bir Collection by Seiwert Wolf-Dieter. Jewellery sets off beauty and reveals wealth. Traditional Oriental vernacular jewellery has, moreover, a magical function. It attracts heavenly blessings and wards off evil. On his extensive travels throughout the Orient, Dr Bir amassed one of the world's largest private collections of traditional jewellery. Over 400 illustrations reproducing more than 750 objects as well as a rich store of maps to enable readers to place pieces by region make this encounter with the fascinating world of traditional Oriental vernacular jewellery a memorably exciting adventure. With bibliography and index.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Books on Taoism

This is a selection of books on Taoism:

Understanding Taoism: Origins, Beliefs, Practices, Holy Texts, Sacred Places by Jennifer Oldstone-Moore. This pocketbook is a concise introduction to Taoism which since the 4th century BCE has been a pervasive influence in Chinese beliefs and the lives of China's people. Colour illustrations and inset summaries enhance the chapter on Taoism's origins and history; views of the Divine; sacred texts; sacred persons; ethical principles; sacred space; sacred time; death and afterlife; influence in society; religion and artistic creation. Glossary, bibliography and index.

The Original I Ching: An Authentic Translation Of The Book Of Changes by Margaret J. Pearson. The unique I Ching or "Book of Changes" is some 3000 years old. It has a pivotal role in much of China's thought and culture over the centuries. This new translation goes back to the earliest text and is without the accretions of centuries of commentary and editorial gloss. The sixty-four sections of the book are in hexagram form and the author's explanatory commentary accompanies the translated original text, which forms a still-applicable compendium of wisdom. With historical introduction and the complete Chinese text.

Laozi: Tao Te Ching on the Art of Harmony - The New Illustrated Edition of the Chinese Philosophical Masterpiece translated by Chad Hansen. A de luxe edition (luxuriously illustrated and sumptuously bound) of the classic Chinese text of Taoism for all who seek to live by the truth of nature. Written in about the sixth century BC, the Tao Te Ching is the masterpiece of the Chinese sage Laozi (or Lao Tzu), a record-keeper at the Zhou court, a contemporary of Confucius and the founder of Taoism. Although the book was written more than 2,500 years ago in a thoroughly Eastern milieu, its concepts and teachings have never been more relevant to the Western world than they are today. Laozi offers profound wisdom, arguing that individuals can attain true fulfilment by striving to live in harmony - not only with others but also with their natural environment. This illustrated edition, bound in imitation silk, is an essential addition to any collection of the world's classic spiritual texts.

The Natural Way: Lessons from Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi by Sheh Seow Wah. The author brings the 2500 years-old wisdom of Lao Zi and Zhang Zi, profound exponents of Daoism, into modern life. The examples and quotations apply to today's daily situations. The second section sets out the Principles of Nature, which underpin Daoism or Nature's Way. Bibliography.

Tales from the Tao: The Wisdom of the Taoist Masters by Solala Towler. This unique collection brings together the most inspiring, illuminating and downright funny stories from the classical works of Taoist masters, alongside new writing inspired by traditional tales. Set against a backdrop of the mountains, waterfalls and gorges of China, these tales introduce important Taoist ideas about many of the most basic human experiences - including birth, death, loss, pleasure, and how to surrender to the most fundamental experience of the Tao itself. Interwoven with classic Taoist quotations and illustrated with beautiful photography throughout, these engrossing narratives are as relevant today as they were in the great dynasties of ancient China.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Books on Asian History from Selections 106

These are books on Asian history from our recent Selections 106:

A History of Korean Science And Technology by Jeon Sang-Woon.  Utilizing rare pictures and offering detailed explanations of the heritage of traditional Korean science from the Bronze Age to the Joseon Dynasty, this book takes a fresh and unique look at the history of Korean science. The author covers a wide range of topics, including astronomy, meteorology, metals and glass, printing, geography and cartography, and also discusses the accomplishments of eminent Korean scientists.

Sun Yat-Sen, Nanyang and the 1911 Revolution edited by Lee Lai To and Lee Hock Guan. In view of the 100th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution and Sun Yat-sen's relations with the Nanyang communities, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and the Chinese Heritage Centre came together to host a two-day bilingual conference on the three-way relationships between Sun Yat-sen, Nanyang and the 1911 Revolution in October 2010 in Singapore. This volume is a collection of papers in English presented at the conference. While there are extensive research and voluminous publications on Sun Yat-sen and the 1911 Revolution, it was felt that less had been done on the Southeast Asian connections. Thus this volume tries to chip in some original and at times provocative analysis on not only Sun Yat-sen and the 1911 Revolution but also contributions from selected Southeast Asian countries.

Southeast Asian Historiography: Unravelling yhe Myths - Essays in Honour of Barend Jan Terwiel edited by Volker Grabowsky, Volker. This collection of twenty-one essays in honour of Professor Barend Jan Terwiel deals with a wide range of issues spanning various periods of time, both modern and pre-modern, in countries throughout Southeast Asia. The contributors have been inspired to challenge and unravel established paradigms of this diverse region's history and in doing so propose new insights and interpretations. The volume first focuses on Thailand and Laos and includes contributions by distinguished historians such as Thongchai Winichakul and Barend Terwiel himself. It covers topics such as the rise of Thai nationalism, concepts of gender and ethnicity and the role of magic and religion in contemporary society. The second part widens the perspective looking at issues such as the relationship between myth and nation in Vietnam, Buddhism and political legitimisation in Burma and the role of Europeans in the shaping of the region's history.

Revolutionary Spirit: Jose Rizal in Southeast Asia by John Nery. The impact of the nationalist, poet and novelist Jose Rizal (1861-1896) was of course a major force in the emergent anti-colonial movement in the Philippines. Many tales surround his memory and the iconic poem written before his 1896 execution in Manila. This book explores Rizal's even now ongoing impact in the nationalism in Southeast Asia particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia. The author finds the ideas of present-day scholars and activists such as Syed Hussein Alatas, Pramoedya Ananta Toer are influenced by Rizal's life and ideas. Bibliography and index.

The Battle for China: Essays on the Military History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 edited by Mark Peattie, Edward Drea et al.. The Sino-Japanese War has inspired numerous specialised studies-some analysing diplomatic relations, some addressing specific incidents, and still others documenting the rise of Communism in China. The war itself, however, has usually been presented from the perspective of the West. Departing from this tradition, The Battle for China brings together Chinese, Japanese, and Western scholars of the first rank to provide a comprehensive and multifaceted overview of the military operations that shaped much of what happened in political, economic, and cultural realms. Given the volatility of the events covered and their disputed histories, the volume's diverse contributors have taken pains to sustain a scholarly, dispassionate tone throughout their analyses of the course and the nature of military operations, ranging from the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of 1937 to the final campaigns of 1945. They present Western involvement in the war, but in Sino-Japanese contexts, and establish the war's place in World War II and world history in general.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Books on Politics in Singapore

These are recent titles on politics in Singapore:

A Nation Awakes: Frontline Reflections edited by Tan Jee Say. Few nations if any, have ever held two national elections in a span of four months. Fewer still are key players who took part in both. This book is the story of extraordinary men and women who fought Singapore's 2011 General Election in May and the Presidential Election in August. Together with their loyal and dedicated supporters, they displayed great courage and conviction, and in so doing changed the political landscape forever. The writers of this book represent a broad spectrum of Singapore society - student, teacher, university researcher, social worker, doctor, economist, lawyer, advertising, media and IT personnel, blogger, housewife and retiree. They cut across all age groups from their twenties to their sixties. They have come together in this book to relate and share their personal journey with Singaporeans. Unlike most post-election commentaries written by third-party observers, this book is unique as it allows readers to hear from the horse's mouth how in four short months, Singapore's single dominant party system has given way to the emergence of a politics of diversity with positive implications for the country's future system of government.

Breakthrough: Roadmap for Singapore's Political Future by Derek Da Cunha. The People's Action Party, the nation's ruling party since 1959, made Singapore a byword for political status quo. The electorate was known to be stolid, politically apathetic, indifferent. Until 2011. In a general election that witnessed Singaporeans' desire to alter the political landscape, the PAP saw its vote slide to an all-time low since Singapore's independence. The opposition Workers' Party secured six parliamentary seats. It was a significant breakthrough. Opposition parties have always been confronted with major obstacles on their road to Parliament, not least the multi-seat electoral divisions known as Group Representation Constituencies. With the fall of Aljunied GRC to the WP and the defeat of two Cabinet ministers, GE2011 shattered the ruling party's aura of virtue and invincibility. Breakthrough: Roadmap for Singapore's Political Future examines the circumstances and context of WP's parliamentary gains, and where almost 2 out of 5 Singaporean voters opted for an opposition party. Singapore's electorate, post-GE2011, is polarised between those who subscribe to the status quo and those who want it altered irrevocably. As a consequence, Singapore's political future is certain to be marked by unexpected twists and turns, many of which will likely be counter-intuitive.

10 Days: Chiam See Tong, the SPP and GE 2011 edited by Benjamin Pwee. This is a photo-journalistic record of the Singapore People Party's (SPP) GE 2011 campaign, published by sponsorship and donations from many supporters, to commemorate the SPP's involvement in a momentous period in Singapore's political history.This photo-book charts out the development of the SPP, from Mr Chiam the lone fighter, to the appearance of many new faces, to the formation of the 7-man team, competing in three constituencies: Potong Pasir, Bishan-Toa Payoh, and Hong Kah North.

A Watershed Election: Singapore's GE 2011 by Catherine Lim. Singaporean novelist Catherine Lim is also known as a commentator. Here are recent articles on the May 2011 General Election: a pre-election satirical squib; views on the significance of the Election's surprises; crystal ball-gazing on the political landscape ahead; an ironic view of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's legacy; a playlet which (perhaps) illuminates Lee Kuan Yew's personality and style; and ruminations on Singaporeans' identity. Ms Lim's two 1994 newspaper articles which provoked the then Prime Minister to pubic comment are appended.

The Singapore Democrats: 30th Anniversary Commemorative Magazine. Quotations from some of the world's major gurus, and top quality photo-portraits of members of the Singapore Democratic Party are major features in this magazine which celebrates the Party's first 30 years. The account of its foundation, vicissitudes, major personalities, struggles and present aims and programmes are set out with enthusiasm. The Party's international contacts and present membership are also highlighted.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Titles on the Arts from Selections 106: Part 2

Here are more titles on the Arts from Selections 106.

Women Artists in Singapore by Bridget Tracy Tan. Women Artists in Singapore showcases Singapore's women artists and their contributions. Bridget Tracy Tan's selection of 37 artists and artworks offer interesting and much-needed insights about the role women have played, and continue to play, in Singapore's art history. The styles and mediums of artists from different generations are creatively juxtaposed to highlight the sheer diversity of their output and influences, as well as their international character. The question of what it means to be both an artist and a woman lies at the heart of Women Artists in Singapore. Enlivened by colourful artwork images from the national collection as well as private and artist collections, this book presents a visual feast, attractive to art lover and lay person alike.

Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art edited by Adriana Proser. According to sacred texts, the historical Buddha encouraged his disciples to make pilgrimages to sites associated with his life. As sacred images of the Buddha proliferated over time, it is said that his relics were divided among 84,000 South Asian sites of Buddhist worship, or stupas. This abundance of sacred sites in turn rendered pilgrimage and worship increasingly prominent influences on Asian culture and daily life. Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art employs sacred objects, textiles, sculpture, manuscripts, and paintings to discuss the relationship between Buddhist pilgrimage and Asia's artistic production. Accompanying an exhibition of approximately 90 extraordinary objects, many of which have never before been displayed publicly, this book addresses the process of the sacred journey in its entirety, including discussion of pilgrimage motivation, ritual preparation, and worship at the sacred destination. Exceptional and visually stunning examples of painted mandalas, reliquaries, prayer wheels, and travelling shrines demonstrate that pilgrims and pilgrimage inspired centuries of artistic production and shaped the development of visual culture in Asia. Through insightful essays by a team of scholars, Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art illuminates artwork's complex role in Buddhist culture, in which art serves as a form of memory and a bridge to the spiritual world as well as a functional tool with temporal purposes.

Lim Yew Kuan by Bridget Tracy Tan and Choy Weng Yang. This study of the oeuvre of Lim Yew Kuan (b. 1928) complements the retrospective Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), Singapore exhibition. Lim Yew Kuan was the second (1963-1979) Principal of NAFA and son of the founding Principal Lim Hak Tai. Trained in Chelsea and Paris and working in different media including woodcuts and sculpture. An illustrated essay by Bridget Tan overviews the diversity of his artistic achievement. Some 60 of his paintings and other works are illustrated. With biographical chronology. Bilingual in Chinese.

12 Contemporary Artists of Vietnam by Dao Mai Trang. This softback presents work and ideas of 12 contemporary artists of Vietnam. A biographical summary and a few colour plates accompany summary and a few colour plates accompany the essay on the oeuvre and ideas of each artist. Diversity and new vigorously-expressed ideas and convictions are clearly very active in Vietnam's art world. Bilingual in Vietnamese.

Ancestral Realms of the Naxi: Quentin Roosevelt's China by edited by Christine Mathieu and Cindy Ho. The Naxi people are an ethnic minority living in south-western China, who at the intersection of the Tibetan civilization in the west and the Chinese in the east, developed not only their own language but also their own pictographic script (the only living pictographic script in the world today), a rich mythology, and their own religion complete with complex rituals. This book offers a comprehensive introduction to Naxi art and culture through rare artefacts: funeral scrolls, ceremonial banners, paintings, musical instruments, crowns, swords, and sceptres, as well as pictographic manuscripts. It provides articles on the art of the Dongba, their calligraphy and language, and essays on Naxi history, culture, and society, as well as an essay on Quentin Roosevelt and his travels to the land of the Naxi. This is a comprehensive introduction to centuries of Naxi culture, art, and religion, which presents outstanding objects from public and private collections, including those collected by Quentin Roosevelt in China. Essays by specialists and scholars in the field of Naxi studies and Chinese and Tibetan art history offer a highly academic standard that is also attractive and accessible. With bibliography and index.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Titles on the Arts from Selections 106: Part 1

We had a number of titles on the Arts in Selections 106.  We will feature five of those titles in this post:

Sanyu: Catalogue Raisonné Oil Paintings: Volume Two by Rita Wong. Sanyu (1901-1966) was a Chinese artist from Sichuan province who lived and died in Paris. Integrating traditional Chinese aesthetics with Western modernist tenets, Sanyu has created a unique painterly language that is all his own. Dedicated to discovering as much as possible about Sanyu, the author has interviewed Sanyu's friends and gathered records pertaining to Sanyu's life. This is the second volume of her catalogue, which in addition to listing Sanyu's works, attempts to construct Sanyu's life in the form of an extended chronology.

The Arts of Kashmir by Pratapaditya Pal. This is a magisterial survey by a leading authority on the artistic achievements of the Kashmiri culture. Published in conjunction with the Asia Society's major international loan exhibition Arts of Kashmir, this comprehensive catalogue by leading academics in the visual culture of Kashmir explores Kashmir's rich artistic and intellectual ferment between the 4th and 19th centuries. The catalogue, featuring 125 objects of exemplary quality, includes both religious and secular arts, providing a holistic view of the cultural achievements of the people of Kashmir. Examples of Kashmir's little-known works of Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic art are presented along with famed crafts works, ranging from furniture and papier-maché work to carpets and embroidery, to provide a sense of the broad artistic contributions of this region. The essays discuss early painting, textile, sculptural and literary traditions in Kashmir, with a particular focus on the intersection of these traditions with artistic, religious and cultural practices in the local and wider regions. With bibliography and index.

Tracing the Past, Drawing the Future: Master Ink Painters in the Twentieth-Century China by Yang Xiaoneng. This substantial volume examines a crucial turning point in the development of Chinese ink painting in the twentieth century, a change represented by the beautiful and innovative work of four artists, Wu Changshuo (1844-1927), Qi Baishi (1863-1957), Huang Binhong (1864-1955), and Pan Tianshou (1897-1971). With careers spanning over a century of radical change in China, these artists were instrumental in propelling the ancient tradition of Chinese ink painting into the modern era in the face of compelling Western influences. As a group, their work represents an alternative approach to questions of relevance and modernity. This lavish book illuminates the context in which these artists worked, describes their overall contribution to the history of Chinese art, and highlights their individual ideas and achievements. In his introductory essay, Xiaoneng Yang offers a brief historical background for the evolution of modern Chinese painting. Richard E. Vinograd analyzes the "alternative modernism" represented by these artists, each of whom worked in the brush-and-ink idiom, confronted the shift toward practices of the West, and gave new life through this confrontation to cherished traditions. Essays devoted to each artist are followed by individual entries discussing their works. Featuring more than one hundred works of both painting and calligraphy by the four artists, the book, which is published to accompany a traveling exhibition, also includes a glossary, an index and detailed bibliography.

Ethnic Jewellery from Indonesia: Continuity and Evolution by Bruce Carpenter, A. J. Guerreiro and P. Heurtault. Ethnic Jewellery from Indonesia: Continuity and Evolution is a compelling introduction to the little-known and visually-powerful body adornments of the ethnic peoples of Indonesia's outer islands, including Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, Sumba and Maluku. The history of the jewellery is told from the perspective of the materials used, including gold, silver, brass, ivory, shell and animal teeth. Illustrated with nearly 600 photographs of rare jewellery amassed over 30 years by collector Manfred Giehmann, this book explores the depth and breadth of an ancient and magnificent tradition of the Indonesian people. It will provide information on the origin, meaning and purpose of the jewellery, as well as unique insights into the people who crafted and wore the jewellery for ritual or ceremonial functions. Ethnic Jewellery: Continuity and Evolution is a definitive work on the subject and a testimony to the living traditions of cultures usually shrouded in mystery.
Negotiating Home History and Nation: Two Decades of Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia 1991-2011. Assembling over 70 works from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, this exhibition showcases the visual brilliance and conceptual purpose of recent Southeast Asian practice. Providing regional comparisons, it illuminates the common themes, aesthetic approaches, and conceptual tendencies that have surfaced since the early 1990s. Commonalities coming to the fore include story-telling, the meshing of idea and visual seduction, and a belief in art-as-social-voice. Arguing for a view of the region's visual production on the region's terms, the curatorial references used to contextuatise the pieces are mined in Southeast Asian history, geography, and culture. The exhibition proposes the confluence of recent political history, profound social shifts, and artists' confidence vis-à-vis their deep-rooted cultural baggage as significant to the creation of the visually potent and conceptually original art of the last two decades.