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An album of woodcuts “One hundred views of Mount Fuji by Hokusai”, the 2nd volume

In the collection of the Manggha Centre of Japanese Art and Technology, there is an edition of the work 100 views of Mount Fuji by Katsushiki Hokusai. Hokusai was one of the most famous Japanese artists and he created old ukiyo-e woodcuts (Japanese: a view of the world that passes away).

Porcelain vase with a wooden base

What do a cobalt vase and a Japanese emperor have in common? This vase is a gift from the Japanese court donated to the Manggha Museum during the visit of the Japanese emperor, Akihito, and his wife, Michiko, on 11 July 2002. This porcelain vase with a wooden base is ornamented with the imperial chrysanthemum – an emblem representing the imperial title in Japan.

“Rikka” — “ikebana” vase

Ikebana is the art of arranging flowers which involves the creation of linear harmony and asymmetrical composition while keeping unity among the shapes, rhythms and colours of the material used. Elements used in compositions include branches, leaves, grass, and flowers, as well as vessels, and each of these elements has its own symbolic meaning.

“Ise-katagami” dyeing stencil with a carp motif

The carps that appear here belong to those motifs which, despite reflecting Japanese symbols, seem familiar to the Europeans as well. According to the tradition brought to Japan from China, carps swim upstream so as to transform themselves into dragons, having first proven their strength and perseverance. Due to those features, they are also patrons of boys on their own day which used to be celebrated in Japan on 5 May (at present, this is Children's Day in Japan).

“Golden Pavillon in Kyoto” — a drawing by Andrzej Wajda

On 10 November 1987, Andrzej Wajda received the Kyoto Prize for his lifetime achievements in the field of the arts. During a few days spent in Kyoto, the former capital city of Japan, he sketched more than a dozen drawings depicting the places he had visited. They included two views of Kinkakuji (Jap. Golden Pavillon), one of the most exquisite places of the city. The name of the building is derived from the decoration of the walls which are covered with petals of gold.

“Ise-katagami” dyeing stencil with a motif of “momiji” maple leaves and branches

A kimono is one of the first things that comes to mind when we think of Japan. We always see those traditional dresses exquisitely decorated with painted or embroidered designs. Each of them is decorated with the most beautiful and elegant patterns. However, there are also everyday kimonos with repeating, small patterns of flowers, birds, fans and other motifs. They are made using stencils such as the Ise-katagami, which the Japanese have been creating for centuries.

“Stanisław Lem — Lifelike” — a drawing by Andrzej Wajda

In the collection of the Manggha Museum, there are 242 portraits by Andrzej Wajda in the Familiar faces series. One of them is a drawing signed by the author — Stanisław Lem — Lifelike. Indeed, the author has captured the resemblance perfectly using hatching and many strong lines, as in the case of the many other drawings of the series sketched on notebook pages or graph paper.

“Fish” — a drawing by Andrzej Wajda

In Japan, carps are a symbol identified with boys, who wish to become as strong and persistent as those fish. Each year, during Japanese Children's Day, which formerly was solely Boys' Day, parents hang kites on flagpoles located near their houses resembling wind socks that indicate the strength and direction of the wind. They are in the shape of carps, and the colour of each carp is related to the person it symbolises: the black carp is for the father, the red one — for mother, other colours are for children. According to old beliefs, flags are hung high in order to attract the attention of protective gods that are high in the sky.

“Kiyomizu-dera, the Shrine of Clear Water” by Andrzej Wajda

In Kyoto, the former imperial capital city, you can find Kiyomizu–dera (清水寺), a complex of Buddhist shrines whose name derives from the waterfall of the river flowing on the hillside of Mount Higashiyama. The main pavilion of the shrine is dedicated to Goddess Kannon (a bodhisattva personifying compassion), and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions, famous for its vantage point based on a six-storey structure. Crowds of visitors come to this place both in spring, when the cherry trees are in bloom, and in autumn, when the maple leaves turn red.

“Winter” — a poster by Koichi Sato from the “Disappearing Japan” series

Mount Fuji is a major symbol of Japan and is placed even on banknotes. It is a holy mountain, the place where, according to beliefs, the protective gods of the country live. An expedition to its peak is like an entrance to a heavenly land bathed in golden light through a thick layer of clouds.

“Judo saga” — a poster by Jerzy Flisak

This poster by Jerzy Flisak is distinguished, above all, by its unusual display of two fighting figures depicted in the form of a white pictograph placed against a brown background. Naturally, the image brings to mind an association with the writing system used by the Japanese — kanji signs, and due to this connection, the poster is imbued with a deeper meaning. The author uses both a subtle pattern and a metaphor, and skilfully combines the images with a story.

“Rashomon” – a poster by Wojciech Fangor

Rashomon is a poster by Wojciech Fangor and was created in tribute to the famous film of the same title. While this very film of 1950 brought the name of Akira Kurosawa to the top of the world cinematography, Wojciech Fangor's poster helped to popularise this work in Poland.

“The Portrait of Shunkin” – a poster by Jan Młodożeniec

This poster created by Jan Młodożeniec stands out due to its interesting appearance which resembles the traditional Japanese woodcut ukiyo-e.

“Hakuji” vessel by Manji Inoue

The process of producing vessels of white porcelain is regarded as being exceptionally difficult, since, as it is baked in a furnace, small particles can easily permeate inside, and they can dye the porcelain forms, thus disrupting the whole process. One of the most outstanding contemporary hakuji artist is Manji Inoue (born 1929), the Japanese creator who was awarded, in 1995, with the honourable title of The Living National Treasure(Ningen Kokuhō).

Wedding kimono “uchikake” with a motif of cranes in flight

The level of a kimono's formality is determined by the type, design and colour of its fabric, as well as the adjustment necessary for the occasion the kimono is intended for. At present, most women wear kimonos when practising traditional Japanese arts such as the ikebana and the tea ceremony, or during important family meetings. One such event is a Japanese wedding of Shinto rite. One of the kimonos included in the set of kimonos worn by the bride on that day is a red outer kimono uchikake.

“Komon” type kimono with a motif of maple leaves

A kimono is a Japanese dress and is an important part of this country's history, culture and tradition. Through the ages, its form has changed somewhat due to Chinese and Korean influence. It got its present shape, the letter T with broad sleeves frequently reaching the floor, during the late Edo period (1603–1868).

“Suiseki” – “Kamogawaishi” type stone on a wooden mahogany base

Are stones precious? How precious can one stone possibly be? As it turns out, one stone can be very precious indeed, particularly if you consider Japanese Suiseki art stones. To quote Matsuura Arishige, whose Kamogawaishi stone on a mahogany base is part of the collection of the Manggha Centre of Japanese Art and Technology: The word suiseki refers to a single stone that has as its shape or surface pattern the ability to signify something far greater than the stone in and of itself. It is a tradition that has evolved to its modern form over many centuries.”

“Flower” calligraphy by Chuei Sekiguchi (alias Kyōso)

From the dawn of history, the Japanese have observed nature carefully. The elements of nature, including various flowers with their symbolic meaning, became frequent motifs used in art and ornamentation. To this day, these natural phenomena are reflected in Japanese customs and traditions. An old custom hanami (in Japanese watching flowers) is still hugely popular when, in spring, whole families have picnics under blossoming cherry trees.

Two creative sketches of the Manggha building by Arata Isozaki

According to legend, when Andrzej Wajda received a prize from the Inamori Foundation and promised that he would spend this prize on a new house of the Far East art collection, Arata Isozaki, the architect, declared that he would prepare the design of the future centre and donate it as a gift. And so it happened.

Andrzej Wajda's journal of the performance of “The Wedding” (Stary Theatre, 1991)

Directors’ journals usually include unique notes concerning the production of a film or performance. They are notebooks in which all essential information is recorded – from their thoughts about the interpretation, suggestions for the arrangement of stage movements to the list of actors together with their telephone numbers. For the reader, it can be a treasury of knowledge on a stage or film adaptation of a work and offer an insight on the director's method of working. The presented journal of Andrzej Wajda is a record of his work on The Wedding by Stanisław Wyspański, which was staged in the Stary Theatre in Kraków in 1991.