This past Wednesday, July 6th saw the opening of the Japanese hand crafts exhibition hosted by Thapong Visual Arts Centre. The exhibition includes hand crafted objects made from traditional materials with traditional Japanese techniques from across Japan. The exhibition, which runs until July 27, was officially opened by the Japanese Ambassador to Botswana Masahiro Onishi.
“The exhibition represents traditional Japanese culture and handcraft forms and introduces examples of the traditional Japanese arts and crafts which have developed within the context of daily life along with works by Japanese craft artists who continue to use traditional techniques to produce highly creative pieces,” Onishi said. He said art lovers will get the opportunity to see and enjoy Japanese handcrafts through their eyes and develop an understanding of Japanese culture.
Representative objects designated as Traditional Craft Objects under Japanese government’s Traditional Manufactured Goods Law form the core of the exhibition, supplemented by work of craft arts.
The ambassador said Japan and Botswana have established strong and cordial relations over 50 years adding that the relations are not only nurtured in political and economic areas but also in cultural areas such as art ,music, and sport.
“2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the independence of Botswana, and is also the year that we celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Botswana and Japan,” Onishi said.
The ambassador said it was his wish that the exhibition will show art enthusiasts the heart of Japanese people through traditional art as the purpose of the exhibition is to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two countries through cultural activities. Some of the crafts on display were made from ceramics; textiles, wood, metal, glass, and paper.
They include the beautiful Edo Decorated Hand-Made Paper that originates from as far back as 8th century. The Karakami decorated papers are ornamented handmade papers used for sliding screens, paper doors and windows, folding screens, etc. They began to be made in the period 994-1192 as imitations of decorated Chinese (Kara) papers. Natural motifs such as flowers and grasses are depicted in a range of techniques including dyeing with paper stencils, woodblock printing, and sprinkling with gold and silver dust. When used for covering lamps, light gleaming through the paper creates an illusory mood from the motifs.
Also on display are Chinese style Marugame Fans that many Batswana would be familiar with. They are said to have originated as souvenirs sold to devotees on pilgrimage to Shikoku’s Mount Konpira. Shaft and ribs are cut from a single piece of bamboo. The ribs are covered with handmade paper, and those to be painted are coated with persimmon tannin or lacquer.