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Detail of one of the Koguryo Tombs murals. Pyongyang, North Korea
The Nihon Shinbun Kyokai announces that –
Kyodo News and the Japan Newspaper Museum will jointly hold a press photo exhibition featuring the Koguryo Tombs and their wall paintings. The Complex of Koguryo Tombs, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, offers a unique testimony to Koguryo culture, its burial customs, and religious practices as well as daily life and beliefs, especially through the mural paintings. The paintings notably include images of hunting, women in colorful clothes and the Four Deities.
These artworks that flourished in ancient East Asia are believed to have connections to Japan’s Takamatsuzuka Tumulus and Kitora Tumulus. Kyodo News in 2010 and 2011 exclusively covered five tombs in Pyongyang and its vicinity, shooting numerous photographs. On display at the exhibition will be photographs of the ”Four Guardian Deities” murals at the Kosan-dong No. 1 Tomb in Pyongyang which was excavated in 1936 by Japanese researchers, and recently-discovered images of people at the Okdori Tomb in Nampo. Kyodo News became the first foreign media organization to cover the Okdori Tomb. Other photos to be shown include those of the Tokhungri Tomb, the Anak No.3 Tomb and the Kangso Great Tombs and their mural paintings to introduce the essence of Koguryo culture. Life-size replicas of stone chambers of the Kosan-dong No. 1 Tomb and Takamatsuzuka Tomb will be on display as well.
Details here.
The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Pickering, North Yorkshire
The present Norman church (rebuilt in the mid-12th century) of St Peter and St Paul in Pickering, North Yorkshire stands on the site of an earlier Anglo-Saxon church, of which only the font and stone cross now remain. From the outside Pickering Church resembles many similar English churches but, step inside, and one is almost overwhelmed by its brilliant interior decoration. Pickering Church contains the most complete set of medieval wall paintings so far discovered in Britain. Executed over 500 years ago the paintings remained hidden under a thick coat of plaster until they were accidentally rediscovered in 1852.
North wall of the church showing St George Slaying the Dragon (left) and St Christopher (centre)
Detail of The Martyrdom of Edmund on the north wall
South wall of the church
Detail of The Execution of St Catherine on the south wall
The church guidebook to Pickering Church refers to the St Catherine painting as, “Catherine was a Christian convert, and the painting relates her legend (much like a strip cartoon, proceeding left to right, top to bottom).” For more information on the Church and its paintings visit the Church’s website here –
Morio Nakajima, one of only two remaining sentō (銭湯) mural painters in Japan, working on a picture of his hometown of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, where residents have been unable to return since the nuclear disaster there
Sentō, or public bathhouses, are a declining tradition in Japan. In their heyday in the 1960s there were more than 2,500 in Tokyo alone – now there are fewer than 1,000. Sentō feature in many Japanese paintings, Ukiyo-e prints and in the country’s literature, and the tradition of communal bathing found there is not dissimilar to the one found in ancient Rome – in other words, a place not only to bathe but also to relax and socialise. Along with the bathhouse of more recent times came the mural painters; until recently they were always men painting somewhat garish murals of famous Japanese scenic spots – paintings of Mt Fuji being by far the most popular. Now, however, there remain only two mural painters working in the sentō tradition. The Mainichi Daily News reports yesterday that –

Of just two artisans left in Japan who paint murals in public bathhouses, Morio Nakajima is a longtime Tokyo resident who has been painting scenes from his hometown of Iitate in an effort to inform people that such a beautiful village exists in Japan’s northeast, ravaged by the triple disasters of March 11, 2011.

The 66-year-old Nakajima left Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, for Tokyo at the age of 18. While working at a rubber processing plant in Sumida Ward, he became enamored of the grand mural of Mount Fuji on the wall of a public bathhouse nearby, and decided to apprentice with the late bathhouse painter Kikuo Maruyama.

Full article here. See also The Guardian article here.



September 2020
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