Home / Cutting, Selling, Repurposing: The Eventful Lives of Handscrolls in Japan


IMAP/IDOC 2018–19 Distinguished Lecture Series

Cutting, Selling, Repurposing: The Eventful Lives of Handscrolls in Japan

Melanie Trede, Heidelberg University

Noon, October 10, 2018. East Zone 2 号館 room E-E212-1
Despite the material fragility of narrative handscrolls in Japan, a number of precious heirlooms from
the medieval to the early modern era survive to this day. However, rarely is their appearance the
same now as it was at the time of their creation. Just like other pictorial formats employed in
premodern Japan, handscrolls were more often than not remounted, segmented, repurposed, and the
subject of subsequent reinterpretation. Recent exhibitions at the Tokyo National Museum (2013) and
the Nezu Art Museum (2014) have focused on fragmented paintings, ceramics, textiles, and metal
objects, categorizing and historicizing the current materiality of each exhibit.

Taking these findings as a starting point, questions including the following will be explored: how did
the act of cutting pieces from an artefact originate, and why have scrolls been segmented? What
meanings might fragmented scenes take on after their detachment, and what is the relationship of
brushed text and painted scenes when text-image artefacts are segmented? Might we reframe the
Japanese dankan-fragment within the context of European philosophical ideas of “the Unfinished as
an artistic form” (J.A. Schmoll gen. Eisenwerth, 1915–2010, German art historian) or as a political
expression (Linda Nochlin, 1931–2017, American art historian)?

The paper ends with a case study addressing some of the above questions, tracing and contrasting the
lives (Igor Kopytoff) of two closely connected medieval handscrolls that met diverse fates: while one
has been transmitted as a complete set of three scrolls, the other exists as only a few fragments.

Melanie Trede is professor for the histories of Japanese art at Heidelberg University since 2004.
Among her research and publishing interests are Japanese narrative paintings, gender issues and
political iconographies, art terminologies and the concept of the frame in transcultural engagements
as well as digital art history.

She is the author of Image, Text and Audience: The Taishokan Narrative in Visual Representations
of the Early Modern Period in Japan (2003), Hiroshige. One Hundred Famous Views of
Edo (2007/re-published 2010 and 2015), “Terminology and Ideology: Coming to Terms with
“Classicism” in Japanese Art Historical Writing”, 2003, “Banknote Design as a Battlefield of Gender
Politics and National Representation in Meiji Japan,” 2008, “The Chinese render everything simple”:
East Asian and European Negotiations on Perspective” (2015), and most recently “The Hat Maker:
A newly discovered handscroll in the Berlin Asian Art Museum” (2017). She was also the leader and
editor of the digital project “The Hachiman Digital Handscrolls”, launched in 2015. With Christine
Guth and Mio Wakita, she currently co-edits the volume: Japanese Art – Transcultural Perspectives
(due out from Brill in 2019).

Trained at Berlin Free University, Heidelberg, Waseda and Gakushūin Universities, she has taught
at Heidelberg, Columbia and New York Universities, and as visiting professor at the University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Columbia University.

For questions contact cjbogel@lit.kyushu-u.ac.jp (Cynthea J. Bogel, IMAP/IDOC in Japanese Humanities)

This lecture series is supported by a 2018–19 AY Challenge type 3, Progress 100 (Invitation program for top global researchers) RINK Research Hub for the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Interdisciplinary Studies, Kyushu University grant, The Many Shapes of Meaning: Object and Performance in Asia Across Time.

2018 年10 月 10 日・12時
イースト2号館 E-E212-1
絵巻は恒久性をもたない脆いモノであるにも関わらず、中世から近世にかけて制作された重要な日本絵巻の作品が今日まで伝えられている。しかし、それらの絵巻のほとんどは制作時の状態では残っていない。近代以前の他の絵画作品と同様に、絵巻も幾度も修理、切断され、その用途が変わり、捉えられ方も変化してきた。近年東京国立博物館(2013 年)と根津美術館(2014 年)において開催された断簡にまつわる特別展では、絵画・陶磁器・染織・金工といった多岐にわたるジャンルの作品を対象に、それぞれ現在に伝わるかたちの変化のありようについて類別され、その歴史的背景が明らかにされた。

100: 人社系学際融合リサーチハブ形成型)の環として開催するものです。お問い合わせ先:ボーゲルEMAIL cjbogel@lit.kyushu-u.ac.jp (九州大学大学院 人文科学研究院、広人文学コース)


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