Title: British Collecting of Ceramics for Tea Gatherings from Meiji Japan: British Museum and Maidstone Museum Collections (PhD thesis)
Author: Ai Fukunaga
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Museum collections of Japanese ceramics in Britain include numerous utensils for whipped tea (matcha) and steeped tea (sencha) gatherings along with diverse vessels for daily and special occasions collected from Meiji Japan. Who collected them and why, and how did these objects obtain value in Britain around the turn of the twentieth century and through the process of collecting? Tracing the international network of collecting this material through the Sir Augustus W. Franks (1826–1897) collection at the British Museum, London and the Hon. Henry Marsham (1845–1908) collection at the Maidstone Museum, Kent, this thesis explores the value making process for objects used for two types of tea in the 1860s–80s and the 1880s–1900s, respectively. Based on archival and collection surveys in Britain, Japan, and Europe, the values assigned to these teawares are identified as a collaborative product of negotiations of multiple contributors—objects, collectors, learned societies, mediators, institutions and audiences. Adopting Actor-Network theory, this research gives voice to objects and mediators who have been subordinated and ignored in the history of collecting. At the intersection of the development of museums in the U.K., and academic disciplines of the nineteenth century, modern tourism in Japan, and the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, the objects for tea collected by Franks and Marsham can now be recognized as the products of (inter)national, local, and personal heritage.
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