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Showing posts with label specialcollections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label specialcollections. Show all posts

17 November 2017

Slip back in time to Edo culture in Japan

Are you a student of Japanese culture and history? Subject Librarian Ayako Hatta introduces us to books held at Monash  describing and illustrating life in 17th century Japan.



The book “Ichinichi Edojin 一日江戸人” is an introduction to the lifestyle of the 17th century Edo江戸, Japan.  Edo as it was then known, is now known as the capital city, Tokyo東京.

The Edo period (1603-1868) was led by the shogun Tokugawa Family, a period which was often known to be a peaceful and happy time which lasted over 260 years. One of the foreign policies that the Tokugawa Family implemented was the “closed-door policy” (sakoku = 鎖国) that restricts any information coming inside Japan such as Christianity, immigration, trading and communicating with the outside world. A very unique culture including kabuki (dance-drama = 歌舞伎) with fashion & designs, ukiyo-e (picture of the floating world= 浮世絵) & shunga (erotic art = 春画) had flourished and became very popular during this period.

The population was already over a million people by the late Edo period, which at the time was larger than the population of London or Paris. Half of the Edo population were samurai (= 侍) and monks (sō = 僧), while the rest were town people (chōmin = 町民). Up to sixty percent of town people originally came from the country side and were skillful craftspeople (shokunin = 職人) or merchants (shōnin = 商人). Only five percent of them were known as “the real locals” (Edokko = 江戸っ子). 

Edokkogo etoki jiten ; 江戸っ子語絵解き辞典
(2) Edokkogo etoki jiten ; 江戸っ子語絵解き辞典

The majority of the Edokko population were tenants  and eighty percent of the people lived in dwellings called nagaya (“nagaya = 長屋”). The nagaya dwellings have many small rooms, an indoor kitchenette and a shared well and toilet outside. There were nearby public baths that the Edokko used at least twice a day.  Generally speaking Japanese people love to take baths but taking a bath 4 or 5 times a day was typical of the Eddoko. It was not because the Eddoko had a passion for cleanliness but because of the humid climate and a lot of sandy dust in the area.

The front cover of Ichinichi Edojin (top right) illustrates the way people dressed and travelled in the Edo period. When travelling, walking was the main form of transport. To travel outside of Edo, the traveller would need a “travel ticket” (ōrai kitte = 往来切手) from the master of the area or from a temple, and also a “certificate” (tegata = 手形) from the magistrate’s office. This was a people's identification according to families and guarantee of identity. The certificate also contained other details such as religion, funeral arrangement, and a statement that the traveller was not Christian as Christianity was prohibited by law during this period.

This is only a brief overview of life in Edo, Many more examples of how the Edo people lived are explored in the book with lots of manga illustrations.

(3) Sugiura Hinako no Edojuku ; 杉浦日向子の江戸塾



The author of “Ichinichi Edojin”, Hinako Sugiura was one of the notable manga artists in Japan. She was also a researcher with many scholarly yet highly accessible publications of resource materials specialising in the Edo period,. The book is ideal for anyone interested in learning more about the cultural history of Japan.

You can find this book and others illustrated here in the Japanese Collection located on the first floor of the Matheson Library in the Asian Collections. For more information about the Edo culture in English, use the Library Advanced Search and type in “edo period” in the subject field from the Monash University Library homepage.

Call numbers:
(1) JAP 952.025 S947.I 2005 
(2) JAP 952.025 S252E 2010
(3)  JAP 952.025 S947S 2006





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8 August 2017

'Secret files from World Wars to Cold War' database

Librarians Anna Rubinowski and Melanie Thorn let us in on a little known story from the Cold War era, as an example of what can be found by researchers using this database of secret files, available through the Library.


Attaching a dispatch on a carrier pigeon during the Cold War
On 14 August 1947, in the third meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Carrier Pigeons, held at the Ministry of Defence in London, Flight Lieutenant Walker informed the Committee that civilian member Captain Caiger had “invented a form of box, by means of which to launch pigeons from high speed aircraft, and that he had constructed a prototype”. The Committee, made up of representatives from various areas of the British Armed Forces, agreed that the Air Ministry should arrange trials of this prototype in consultation with M.I.5 and report back to the Committee.

The minutes of this top-secret meeting are part of the British government secret intelligence and foreign policy files available through Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War. Sourced from the U.K. National Archives, the database centres around the Permanent Under-secretary Department’s files documenting British intelligence activities from 1873 to 1951 and their influence on foreign policy. All files are full-text searchable and point to related content, making it easy to discover the fascinating stories that shaped world history in the 20th century.

Following the trail of the carrier pigeons, the files tell the story of the Joint Intelligence Sub-Committee that was formed in November 1945 in response to General Menzies’ top secret memo summarising the use of pigeons in WWI by both sides (including that pigeons on parachutes were dropped over enemy-occupied zones with questionnaires for patriots, and that Abweher pigeon lofts were ‘contaminated’ by English pigeons disguised as German pigeons) and identifying a need to continue this work. The Committee’s role was to collect and circulate information on the latest developments in the area and to ‘be responsible for research, experimental work, and the training facilities required by personnel of the Intelligence Services’.

During its existence the Committee supported the publication of the ‘Pigeon Racing Gazette’ (through Caiger) in order to foster international contacts, tried to encourage pigeon racing from East to West as opposed to South to North, and mused whether experiments involving human powers of water-divining and coloured pieces of cotton on the face of a compass might be of interest in connection with the different coloured liquids in the eyes of pigeons.

Sadly, the Committee was unceremoniously disbanded in May 1950 because ‘the active use of pigeons was no longer contemplated by any of the potential user Departments’.

Caiger went on to publish ‘The secret of the eye’.

The purchase of the database was made possible through the Ada Booth Benefaction.








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2 August 2017

Annotations and illustrations delight collectors

Inscriptions in children's books of the past can be of interest to both scholars and collectors, writes librarian Mia Goodwin.

Sometimes books inscribed by ordinary people can be valuable if the inscription gives insight into the context of the book’s history, production, reception or use.

Take, for example, Monash University Library Rare Books Collection’s copy of Tippoo: A tale of a tiger, by C. W. Cole (1905). This otherwise ordinary children’s book has become extraordinary due to the intriguing annotations inscribed by a previous owner. Mary M. Daubeney gifted the book to Peggy Morton, and carefully annotated each picture with quotations from some of Thomas Moore’s Irish melodies, often to comedic effect. See example above.

This demonstrates historical use of the book itself; how the owner engaged with it, adding textual layers and changing the book to become more playful and distinct for a gift.

Often, an ordinary book becomes especially unique, and therefore ‘rare’, if it was owned by someone famous, particularly if they inscribed their name or wrote a note in the book itself. For example, the Rare Books Collection is fortunate to hold a deluxe second edition of  Stories from Hans Andersen (1912), which includes a touching inscription by Nobel prize-winning author, Sinclair Lewis (1885 – 1951), who gave the book to his parents for Christmas in 1914, as shown below.


Sinclair Lewis was an American author famous for his wit and critique of the American literary establishment. That Lewis gave Andersen’s fairy tales to his parents demonstrates an appreciation of the Danish children’s author, and thus by examining the book in its context, scholarly conclusions may be drawn about Lewis’ literary upbringing and interests that could perhaps inform discussions around Lewis’ work. This is a benefit of examining rare books in context, and demonstrates one way that students and researchers can engage with the Rare Books Collection.

Deluxe books, especially for children, were often given as Christmas gifts in the early twentieth century. This stately edition is a collection of some of Andersen’s most loved stories, including ‘The Snow Queen’ and ‘The Mermaid’. The book is bound in pictorial cloth with beautiful inlaid gilt, as shown at right:

The book includes illustrations by French artist, Edmund Dulac (1882 – 1953). Dulac’s illustrations were exhibited by Leicester Galleries, and published by Hodder & Stoughton. The illustrations are of exceptional quality and were tipped-in separately. Dulac was a leading artist in the Golden Age of Illustration, alongside others such as Arthur Rackham, W. Heath Robinson, and Kay Nielsen. These artists largely provided illustrations for children’s books, and typically experimented with colour and rendering techniques. Their efforts were very well received:

Dulac's art, however, is not of the kind that only the critic may enjoy, for it is rich with poetry and imagination, and strong in the possession of that decorative element which renders a picture universally pleasing” (Stuart, 1910)

 For lovely examples of Dulac’s work see the Snow Queen and other characters below:






To view these books and other rare items, or for research advice and discussion contact Rare Books, or come and visit us at the new Special Collections Reading Room at Matheson Library.


Andersen, Hans Christian. Stories from Hans Andersen. Illustrated by Edmund Dulac, 2nd ed., Hodder & Stoughton, 1912.

Cole, C. W., and William Ralston. Tippoo : A Tale of a Tiger. New Ed., Simpkin Marshall / Hamilton Kent & Co, 1905.

Stuart, Evelyn Marie. “Edmund Dulac—A Poet of the Brush.” Fine Arts Journal, vol. 23, no. 2, 1910, pp. 87–102. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23905910.

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17 July 2017

Kashgar: a digital exhibition


John Gollings, 2005 Kashgar Old City
New technology has enhanced an evocative exhibition at Matheson Library.


Arts, the Library, and an IT student have come together to present a digital exhibition of original photographs, enhanced with new technology, to welcome the viewer into a remote part of China.

Kashgar is an exhibition of evocative photos by Australian photographer John Gollings, collected as part of a Monash Asia Institute international research project to document, measure, and define the most significant cultural monuments and spaces of Kashgar in Western China.

Gollings’ photographs lead the audience on a personal journey through China’s largest oasis city, nestled between sun-scorched deserts and towering mountain peaks, where the long-distance trade routes of numerous old Silk Roads once converged. A constant feed of tradeable goods, merging cultures and varying religions kept the thriving markets of Kashgar alive for thousands of years, now for you to experience through a selection of photographs from the Library’s John Gollings’ Kashgar collection.

Visitors to the Library can continue their exploration of this ancient city on their mobile devices by accessing an interactive tour of the region, thanks to content created by Information Technology student Vinu Alwis. Access the interactive experience by scanning this code with the free Zappar app. Here you can access additional photos, insightful videos, and descriptions of Kashgar city and surrounding towns.

David Groenewegen, the Library’s Director, Research, said that the Library was delighted to have the opportunity to work with a student to help expand access to the amazing materials collected by this project. Innovative digital techniques and apps have the potential to help libraries and other cultural institutions grow awareness of their collections.

The exhibition will be on display at the Sir Louis Matheson Library, Clayton until December this year.

Get a taste of the exhibition with this video of project director Marika Vicziany and John Gollings recounting their experiences of Kashgar.


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6 July 2017

Contribution to Jewish studies recognised

Items from the Laura and Israel Kipen Judaica Collection 
Monash University Library respectfully notes the recent passing of Mr Israel Kipen. Mr Kipen was former Chair of the Joint Committee for Tertiary Jewish Studies, a group that was instrumental in establishing the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University and the Arnold Bloch Lectureship in Jewish History at the University of Melbourne.

The Library acknowledges the generous benefaction from Mr and Mrs Kipen, materials known as the Laura and Israel Kipen Judaica Collection and officially launched by the Library on 23 October 1995. These works are located on level 1 of the Sir Louis Matheson Library, Monash University, Clayton. Students and staff and members of the public interested in viewing material from the Laura and Israel Kipen Judaica Collection can use Search to discover, locate and borrow items. For assistance with this please contact Louise Micallef, Subject Librarian for Jewish Studies at louise.micallef@monash.edu

The Library also holds a unique collection of approximately 200 Australian testimonials from Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. These are kept in our Special Collections area on the ground floor of the Sir Louis Matheson Library, Monash University. Clayton. Students, staff and members of the public interested in viewing these items are welcome to contact specialcollections@monash.edu. prior to visiting the Library. The specialist nature of these materials requires them to be read only within the Special Collections Reading Room at the Matheson Library.

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13 June 2017

Punk zines and fanzines find a new home at Monash


The world of "Punk" is making inroads into the Rare Books Collection at Monash, says librarian Daniel Wee.


Monash University Library recently acquired a small collection of important punk zines, fanzines, and magazines to add to the Rare Books Collection.

The inception of the ‘punk zine’ in the mid to late 1970’s saw it explode into the post-punk period of the 1980’s which included the new-wave and hardcore scenes. Their purpose was to provide a platform for fans to communicate with one another and circulate ideas — think of it as blogging. Research potential with these materials lies in the exploration of the non-elite and their resistance to conformity, as well as providing valuable insight into underground and D.I.Y. publishing.

The collection includes numbers 1, 2 and 11 of Punk magazine; arguably the earliest example of the genre.

Punk,  Numbers 1, 2 and 11




Founded by Legs McNeil and John Holmstrom, these were highly influential magazines designed to promote bands, commentary, and the punk rock movement. As a rather well known artist, Holmstrom illustrated several well known Ramones albums. Our bookseller has advised us that number 2 was originally in the possession of Holmstrom, however, there is no evidence of provenance in our copy. Punk magazine popularised The Ramones, The Stooges, the New York Dolls, and was influential in the CBGB NY club phenomenon.

1st Annual Punk magazine awards ceremony
This fantastic original copy of the “1st annual Punk Magazine Awards Ceremony” (below) brought huge media attention due to the recent split of the Sex Pistols and the arrest of Sid Vicious under suspicion of murder. The awards night ensued into a drunken rowdy mess, which saw Lou Reed refusing to take the stage and accept his award for Class Clown.

Nart, Number 1
Best known for contributor Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, Nart originated from an artist's collective that focused on punk and new wave in the Berkeley area.

Zone V and Killer magazine are important social document for the evolution of the punk movement as it transitioned into the 1980’s hardcore scene. Sonic Youth founder, Thurston Moore was a major contributor. It also includes an early Sonic Youth poster.


Zone V, Killer and poster of Sonic Youth in Killer

The final issue of Sluggo is referred to as the 'Industrial Collapse' issue, and signifies the transition from punk fanzines to aestheticism. 

Sluggo

The game of industrial collapse


If you would like to view any of the items referred to in this post, please do not hesitate contact us at rbinfo@monash.edu.


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