NotesDuring the early 1600s Japanese rule banned nationals from either going abroad or returning home if already out of the country. Similarly foreigners, including missionaries and traders, were expelled from the country and banned from entering, leaving the country in relative isolation for a century and a half. This was largely due to fear of military conquests by European powers, along with the fear that outside ideas might upset social order and cultural traditions. This period, although isolating, allowed for an exploration of identity and culture and lead to productivity and refinement of Japanese artistic, social and religious heritage. Early Japanese cloisonné catered to the wealthy merchant class and ruling samurai, and took the form of sword furniture, such as tsubas, and decorative objects. Cloisonné increasingly developed to include vessels and other items.
In July 1853 the US Navy entered the bay at Edo, demanding that Japan resume trade with the West. Fifteen years later the shogun resigned, being replaced by the Emperor. In March 1876, during the Meiji period (1868-1912), the Hatôrei edict was passed, officially abolishing the samurai as a class and ending their privilege of carrying swords.
This edict, along with the fact that Japan had recently opened to Western trade, marked a decline in the demand for cloisonné within Japan, with Japanese goods being replaced by those of European or American manufacture. Japan, however, held tremendous fascination to Western countries. Promotion of Japanese cloisonné and other items at international exhibitions such as the 1867 Paris International Exposition led to the export of numerous products from Japan, thus providing an alternate marketplace for traditional artists.
During this time the Museum endeavoured to build on its collection from this region, with major acquisitions coming from museum committee member Professor Archibald Liversidge in 1887 and from Father Julian Tenison-Woods (1832-1889), a geologist and spiritual adviser of the Blessed Mary MacKillop, in 1889-90. Unlike Liversidge, who collected with an intellectual eye, Woods' collection is exotica, souvenirs of 'celestial' difference from European standards.
Coben, Lawrence A, and Dorothy C Ferster, 'Japanese Cloisonné: History, Technique, and Appreciation', Weatherhill, New York, 1982
Garner, Sir Harry, 'Chinese and Japanese Cloisonné Enamels', Faber and Faber, London, 1970
Richards, Dick, 'Japan: Three Worlds', Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide 1999