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Title: Crafting identities : tableware for the Meiji Emperor
Author: Redfern, Mary
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 1052
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2015
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As Japan struggled to free itself of the ‘unequal treaties’ imposed upon it by foreign powers in the mid-nineteenth century, the Meiji Emperor (1868–1912) was also seeking to establish his position as ruler in the eyes of both the citizens of Japan and audiences overseas. While the country embarked on a period of widespread modernisation along Western lines, building railroads and factories, educating the masses and developing strong armed forces, the emperor himself emerged from the seclusion previously expected of Japan’s imperial figurehead, greeting foreign visitors according to European models of etiquette and hosting lavish Western-style banquets. Bridging both Western and Japanese dining styles, and featuring pieces produced in Japan and Europe during the first half of the Meiji era, this study examines the ceramic tableware of the imperial court and the documentary sources that record its commissioning and use. Historically neglected, the study of Meiji-era ceramics as it has developed over recent years is dominated by export-focused narratives. By way of redressing this balance, this thesis focuses on the emperor as consumer before turning to consider the career of Arita potter Tsuji Katsuzō (1848– 1929), a maker of imperial tableware, to explore an alternate aspect of the role played by ceramics within Meiji-era Japan. Reconstructing the strategies that lay behind the selection of imperial tableware and examining how it was then used, I argue that these objects were employed to craft the identity of Japan’s new ruler. Connecting the emperor to rulers of centuries past and to those of distant lands through their design and in the material practices of their use, ceramics set on the imperial table positioned the Meiji Emperor as sovereign and invited others to do the same.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available