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“Hiratemae” imperial tea set used during the summer season

Chaji may last for several hours and during this time guests have the opportunity to taste thick koicha tea and light usucha tea, as well as to refresh themselves with a light dish or to taste sweets. All the elements are chosen specifically for such a meeting. In terms of form and motif, utensils should match the season and the occasion. Even the dishes reflect the seasonal characteristics of nature. When speaking about uniqueness of each chaji, the Japanese use a phrase ichigo ichie, meaning: the only meeting like this in life, and the cultivation of this lifestyle is called the Tea Way.

Sculpture “Feliks Jasieński’s bust” by Konstanty Laszczka

Feliks Jasieński (1861—1929), pseudonym Manggha, the outstanding connoisseur of art, patron and collector; he was broadly educated and talented musically. He exerted a considerable influence on the art culture of Kraków at the turn of the 20th century by his activity in the field of arts, his views, publications, and also by making the gathered collections available, including the rich collection of Japanese and Western European drawings and utilitarian objects from the Far East.

“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.”

Two small vases ornamented with cranes in flight, placed against a dark blue background

The crane is one of the most important symbols of longevity in many Asian countries. When it is depicted in combination with other symbols, it takes on an additional, slightly different meaning, which is often deeper than the original one. This majestic bird with its beautiful body and feathers has become one of the most important symbols of the culture of Japan, as the Japanese are a people who observe the surrounding nature carefully and draw a lot of inspiration from nature.

Woodcut “Bright Weather after the Snow Storm in Kameyama” by Utagawa Hiroshige

Utagawa Hiroshige occupied a special place in the collection by Feliks Jasieński: the collection gathered more than 2,000 woodcut boards by this artist. The abundantly represented landscape genre helps us appreciate Hiroshige as an artist who was considered to be the master of recreating the mood created by snow, rain and fog.

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).

The “snow” type “Ko-omote” mask of the “Nō” theatre

In the classic Japanese theatre, masks are the most important accessories of the leading actor shite. With these masks, an actor is able to impersonate characters of both real and imaginary worlds (e.g. a warrior, a young woman, an old man, as well as a demon, a god or a goddess, etc.). By putting on a mask, the character is transformed and the audience is able to discover their hidden secrets (e.g. the extraterrestrial origin of the character), or fierce feelings tormenting them (sorrow, envy, madness).

“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.

“Hikifuda” advertising handbill in the form of a calendar

Among the many hikifuda advertising handbills distributed by publishers to their customers, the most popular were those with motifs connected with the New Year, such as cranes and pine trees, as well as calendars. In Japan, there is a tradition of offering New Year’s wishes, and new year calendars are one of those obligatory presents given on this occasion.

“Ima/Now” Calligraphy by Rikō Takahashi

The calligraphy depicts an ideograph Ima今 (Now) written with black ink on white paper. At the bottom of the work, to the right, there is a red seal with the letters Rikoh in the Latin alphabet. This is the artist's name written in one of the versions of the Japanese language transcription. Novices in painting and calligraphy were encouraged to carve their own seals − the art of carving seals was called tenkoku.

“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.

“Hanaire” flower vase used to decorate tea ceremonies

A Hanaire [花入], which is a flower vase used during the tea ceremony, can have many forms — standing, hanging, with a broad spout, or imitating a thin bamboo stem. Hanaire creators are not limited in terms of materials they can use, either. In tea rooms, one can encounter vases made of wicker, hollow calabash, and every kind of ceramic. Those lighter materials are used during summer gatherings; while heavier ones are chosen in winter.

Woodcut “Oiran Yosooi from the Matsuba-ya Pleasure House” by Kitagawa Utamaro

Beautiful women of the oiran offered an attractive subject for artists dealing with Japanese wood engravings; it peaked in the Edo epoch (1603–1868). Elusiveness and passing, so strongly featured in the philosophy of this period, made people seize the current moment and celebrate the joy stemming from watching flowers or admiring the Moon.

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.

“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.

“Miroir Rouge d'Impermanence” (“Red mirror of impermanence”) — sculpture by Aliska Lahusen

Have you ever touched a beautiful object made of lacquer? Sensuality would be the best word to convey its smooth texture. The same word can be applied to the minimalist works of Aliska Lahusen, which evoke a sensual feeling. They have been created using lacquer — one of the most sophisticated Japanese materials. It was deliberately used by the artist and it gives her sculptures a mystical character.

Shrine with the Senju-Kannon Bosatsu figure

The portable shrine with the image of Senju-Kannon Bodhisattva (Japanese: Bosatsu) was made with the use of the most valued techniques, and the precision of the fine exposure of details emphasises the high class of the exhibit.

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.

“Fugu” — a drawing by Andrzej Wajda

The fish depicted in the drawing is fugu (Latin Takifugu rubripes — a pufferfish), famous for the poison which can be found in its entrails (in particular, in its liver and ovaries), and spawn. The poison is tetrodotoxin, whose toxicity is many times stronger than the toxicity of cyanide. Because of the risk one takes while eating dishes made of fugu, this fish has a crowd of enthusiasts — those who gladly order fugu dishes prepared by qualified chefs, and artists who think about this fish as a motif in films and literature, an instrument of crime or suicide...