November 23, 2011

Battle Standards

On this scroll are depicted uma-jirushi -- battle standards set up beside a military commander's horse to show his position -- of 170 soldiers. The illustrations are printed in color and also painted by hand. This scroll is important for marking the origin of multicolor woodblock printing (nishiki-e) in Japan. The sixth volume of this work, which was found only recently, is the only scroll still known to exist.

Imperial Diet

This multicolored print shows the second temporary Imperial Diet building. It was built in 1891 in Hibiya Uchisaiwaichō, central Tokyo, to replace the first temporary Imperial Diet building, which was destroyed by a fire. Its style combined elements of Japanese traditional architecture with Western elements attributable to its German architect. Imperial Diet sessions were held in this building 48 times before it too burned down, in 1925. The present National Diet building was constructed in Nagatachō, Metropolitan Tokyo, in 1936.

Eight-Point Program for a New Government

This manuscript is the handwritten draft of proposals formulated by Sakamoto Ryōma (1836-67) and Gotō Shōjirō (1838-97), pro-imperial activists from the Tosa Domain (now Kochi prefecture) in western Japan, in 1867. In this document, Ryōma and Shōjirō proposed an eight-point program of political reforms to be undertaken by the new imperial government after the expected resignation of Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1837-1913), the last shogun. The proposed reforms included enactment of new fundamental laws, recruitment of capable people to serve as government advisers, establishment of diplomatic relations with foreign powers, and establishment of a parliament and of a headquarters for the army and the navy.

Rock Painting S00176, Bethlehem, Dihlabeng District Municipality, Free State, South Africa

This San rock painting depicts an upside-down, plum-red antelope with a bleeding nose and, at the upper left, a smaller antelope painted in yellow, also bleeding from the nose. The upside-down posture and the nasal emanations both indicate death. For the San, this death was both literal and metaphoric. Metaphorically, death involved a shaman's passage to the Spirit World that was believed to exist behind the rock surface. The painting is from the eastern Free State of South Africa, which is noted for its depictions of upside-down antelope in a variety of unusual contexts. The image of the painting is part of the Woodhouse Rock Art Collection of the Department of Library Services at the University of Pretoria. The collection includes more than 23,000 slides, maps, and tracings from a large number of rock art sites in South Africa. The San are hunter-gatherer people who lived throughout southern and eastern Africa for thousands of years before being displaced by African tribes and European settlers. The San people continue to live in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia.

Rock Painting S00501, Bethlehem, Dihlabeng District Municipality, Free State

This San rock painting depicts red-colored rain-animals. Among all San groups, the most important ritual is the Great Dance in which, through trances, the San say that they harness a kind of spiritual power. They use this power for healing, hunting, removing societal tensions, making rain, and other tasks. Aspects of the Great Dance are pervasive in San rock art, in part because this dance was of such great significance to the San, but more importantly because the act of making rock art seems to have been part of the process by which San ritual specialists harnessed and shared the power of the dance. The image of the painting is part of the Woodhouse Rock Art Collection of the Department of Library Services at the University of Pretoria. The collection includes more than 23,000 slides, maps, and tracings from a large number of rock art sites in South Africa. The San are hunter-gatherer people who lived throughout southern and eastern Africa for thousands of years before being displaced by African tribes and European settlers. The San people continue to live in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia.

Rock Painting S00568, Bethlehem, Dihlabeng District Municipality, Free State

This San rock painting shows rain-animals in upside-down posture, a familiar indication of death in the San culture. For the San, this death was both literal and metaphoric. Metaphorically, death involved a shaman's passage to the Spirit World that was believed to exist behind the rock surface. The painting is from the eastern Free State of South Africa, which is noted for its depictions of upside-down antelope in a variety of unusual contexts. The image of the painting is part of the Woodhouse Rock Art Collection of the Department of Library Services at the University of Pretoria. The collection includes more than 23,000 slides, maps, and tracings from a large number of rock art sites in South Africa. The San are hunter-gatherer people who lived throughout southern and eastern Africa for thousands of years before being displaced by African tribes and European settlers. The San people continue to live in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia.