Kuniko Yamada McVey
Harvard University. Harvard-Yenching Library. Librarian for the Japanese Collection

From hinagata to isho : opening Japanese design catalogs digitally

Harvard-Yenching Library holds a few hundred volumes of Japanese design catalogs from the late Edo period to the early 20th century. These were originally called Hinagata, then Ishō, or Zuan in the modern era. Typical contents of traditional Hinagata include kimono patterns, architectural decorations, and details, weaving patterns. Many are hand-drawn in color. They were used for practical purposes, such as kimono merchants taking orders from clients. After the Meiji restoration in 1868 when Japan opened to the outside world, the new government promoted the export of Japanese craft goods such as pottery, lacquer ware, textiles to earn the currency necessary for building the modern nation. These goods were well received in Europe where "Japonisme" was already popular. Many designers for these craft goods were trained in Kyoto and publishers there produced color woodblock print design catalogs introducing these designers’ works.

The library digitized 88 volumes of these catalogs in 2016. The images were IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework) compliant following Harvard’s policy. These digital images are presented on the Mirador platform, the newly introduced system where images from other institutions can be displayed side-by-side utilizing IIIF protocol. This new digital platform encourages active explorations of these visually significant materials.

I would like to present a brief history of Japanese visual design catalogs from the early modern to the modern period, utilizing Yenching Library’s digitized collection while drawing relevant images from other institutions for reference and comparison.

Most of the digitized catalogs are gifts once owned and bound by Earnest Goodrich Stillman (1884-1949), Harvard class of 1908. Stillman traveled to Japan in 1905 and collected Japanese art and books throughout his life. Many of his art objects and books are now held in Harvard’s libraries and museums.



イェンチン図書館は昨年こうした見本帖を88冊を、IIIF(International Image Interoperability Framework)に合う規格でデジタル化した。これらの電子画像は昨年導入されたMiradorというプラットフォームで、提供される。Mirador ではハーバード図書館の電子画像だけでなく、世界中のIIIFを採用した機関の電子画像を、ハーバードのものと同一画面で見ることができる。Miradorはこうした視覚的に重要な資料の積極的な探求を促している。

私の発表では、日本のデザイン見本帖の18世紀から20世紀初頭にかけての簡略な歴史を、イェンチン図書館のデジタル化画像を使いながらたどる一方、他機関の関連ある画像もMirador の機能を活用して比較参照していきたい。