This department explores the history of Art-Thinking as seen in the life design of handmade art objects of the Euro-Asian people from prehistory to the Middle Ages from the viewpoint of modern times and the present.
This wide scope of research ranges across the Euro-Asian field from Ireland in the British Isles on its western extreme to the Japanese archipelago on its eastern extreme. This sphere of civilization ranging 10,000 kilometers from east to west has been a geo-cultural highway throughout human history, witnessing cultural transactions between various ethnic peoples and nations who exchanged material culture and shared artistic thought and expression.
The rich exchange of Art-Thinking and humanistic consciousness, the symbiosis of “Life of All Living Things” encompassing different civilizations, took place far beyond the scale of the modern global range. It began 60,000 years ago in Africa, and 40,000 years ago with the great journey of Homo Sapiens as they reached Europe, Siberia and the Japanese archipelago, and then North America13,000 years ago.
On the long road of migration, human beings had to face the wild environment with their bare hands to achieve the philosophy of the finite nature of their own lives as mortal beings on the earth. This awareness developed into an appreciation for the “Cycle of Life,” and they prayed for health and peace in their lives. This made them begin the creation of “Design for Life” with joy in the form of crystalized decorative patterns or ornaments as symbolic and magical representations, as seen in the art of the Neolithic European megalith, Medieval Celtic decorative letters, ancient Central Asian nomadic Scythian metalworks, prehistoric Siberian petroglyphs, and earthenware of the Jōmon period in Japan.
The art of Euro-Asian peoples reflects various aspects of essential livelihood, including hunting, gathering, fishing, pastoralism, farming, and also such experiential recognitions as Birth and Death, Heaven and Earth, and the cultural relationship between Animals and Humans using the analogical imaginative method. In this primal religious life, human beings who depended on the natural world to live expressed their gratitude through ritual offerings to the spirits of fertility and “Life of the All Living Things,” as well as creating forms of ornamental art reflecting the universal cyclical structure of Life, which acts as a representation of universal ontological thought amongst human beings.
This research promotes the discovery of the depths of Art-Thinking on Life from the dense and unknown aesthetic works of decorative and ornamental arts and crafts of the vast Euro-Asian world, and reaches beyond the modern desert of our society, captive to over-supply and convenience.
Art Anthropology 16号《ユーロ=アジアをつらぬく美の文明史》
Natural patterns seen in the Taklimakan Desert (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region)
Head ornament of swirling birch bark (Russia)
Celtic cross at the port of Arranmore Island, Ireland