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Materials, Skills and Cultural Resources: Onta Folk Art Pottery Revisited

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This article looks at a variety of issues surrounding the use of skills and materials in the production of Onta pottery, a style of Japanese mingei, or "folk art," whose methods of production have now been designated an Important Intangible Cultural Property by the Japanese Government's Agency for Cultural Affairs. It relates how a fall-off in market demand has threatened the continued manufacture of traditional forms, and, as a consequence, the throwing skills that underpin them. It also describes how various external developments, beyond the potters' control, have affected their access to natural glaze materials, before showing the potential consequences these developments have on Onta pottery's designation as a traditional cultural form. Its particular theoretical concern is with the ways in which cultural resources are appropriated by and negotiated among various actors, including the potters themselves, critics, aesthetes, government officials, marketing agents, and consumers.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/174967708783389878

Publication date: March 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Modern Craft is the first peer-reviewed academic journal to provide an interdisciplinary and international forum on the subject of craft. It addresses all forms of making that self-consciously set themselves apart from mass production— whether in the making of designed objects, artworks, buildings, or other artifacts.

    The journal covers craft in all its historical and contemporary manifestations. This ranges from the mid-nineteenth century, when handwork was first consciously framed in opposition to industrialization, through to the present time, when ideas once confined to the “applied arts” have come to seem vital across a huge range of cultural activities. Special emphasis is placed on studio practice, and on the transformations of indigenous forms of craft activity throughout the world. The journal also reviews and analyzes the relevance of craft within new media, folk art, architecture, design, contemporary art, and other fields.

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