New York City Travel
Japan History in the Brooklyn museum. Collections and Galleries.    


An exhibit of ancient seals in this hall of the Brooklyn Museum, including bronze seals for pictures and ornamental writings, wooden seals used by bookkeepers, writing materials, and water pots for mixing ink, appears at the left of the entrance in this room.

The West Corridor, at the left of the room of japan history, exhibits robes and garments of men and women of various ranks, toilet articles of all kinds, including rouge and rouge brushes, razors, hairpins and combs, trinket boxes and tooth brushes, color prints representing Japanese life of the fourteenth, eighteenth or nineteenth centuries and games played by girls. The case of pottery in this corridor exhibits various types of Japanese ware. Although pottery of a crude kind was made in Japan at an early period, it was not until the sixteenth century that a Korean potter came to Kioto and made a common kind of black earthenware with lead glaze, called Raku ware. For eleven generations the descendants of this man have made the same kind of ware. It is especially valued for use in the tea ceremony. The introduction of this and later of other methods from Korea and China gave a great impetus to pottery making, and many celebrated Japanese potters have since made themselves famous.

In a case on the left of this corridor is a series of objects from Korea, including arrows, helmets, apparel and other instruments of culture. The conquest of Korea occurred early in Japanese history, and many of the arts of Japan were derived from this country and through it from China.

The South Corridor of the hall of japan history of the Brooklyn Museum, at the left contains robes of Buddhist priests, labels used by pilgrims, charms and emblems to be obtained at shrines, and votive offerings. Color prints on the walls of this corridor show the game of "Suguroku." This is a game of a semi-educational nature, in which, in a series of squares surrounding a central "goal," are printed pictures of various types according to the subject with which it is desired to familiarize the player; in this case Japanese heroes, in others religions, famous places, etc.; many different specimens of this game are shown in these galleries.

Kites, the flying of which is enjoyed by old and young in Japan, chess, backgammon and other games, dice and toys are shown in this corridor, and in alcoves on the left are reproductions of antiques and art treasures from the Imperial Treasure at Nara. Nara was the residence of the Mikados from A.D. 708 to 782, after which the court was removed to Kioto.

At the time of the removal, the Imperial furniture and property of all kinds were stored in the large wooden storehouse, "Shoso-in," built for the purpose. Here it remained packed in wooden chests for nearly 1,200 years and is now exhibited in corridors surrounding the temple. This celebrated collection of antiques and curios includes books, sculptures, screens, pottery, masks, copper bowls, ornaments, weapons and utensils of all kinds, as well as dresses and fabrics. The larger part of these are of foreign origin, many of them Chinese.

In a case at the left of this corridor, in the japan history hall, an exhibit of bows and arrows shows practice, hunting and ceremonial arrows, arrows in different stages of manufacture, practice and long distance bows and a crossbow four hundred years old. The arrow has an important place in primitive culture, and those of each individual bear his name, except in the case of war arrows. They are used ceremonially for purposes of divination. Small arrows were used in playing a game, and Korean playing cards still bear representations of the arrows from which they were derived. Opposite this exhibit by the Brooklyn Museum is a case of spear heads.

An exhibit of articles from Formosa, comprising baskets, hats, palm-leaf clothing, weapons and other objects, occupies a case at the east end of this corridor, followed by an exhibit of carved wooden implements from the Ainu. These peoples, who inhabited Japan before the advent of the Japanese and probably once occupied the greater part of the country, are now confined almost entirely to the Island of Yezo in northern Japan. Their culture was that of the Stone Age, characterized by the entire absence of metal. The east corridor on this floor contains exhibits of Ainu culture showing looms and methods of weaving rough fabrics from elm-tree bark, heads of the deified bear, carved knife sheaths, pipe holders, tobacco boxes and moustache lifters, models of boats and canoes, and utensils.


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