Hello, my name is Christal, and I am an intern at the Amherst Historical Society. Before coming to this museum, I studied History and East Asian studies at Mount Holyoke College up to this May. During my four years of school, I devoted the majority of my time to learning about the History of the East Asian region; at the same time, I developed an interest in Art History and Gender Studies.
This is a soap dish brought by Mabel Loomis Todd from one of her visits to Japan in the late 19th century. The dish is semi-circular with three male figures surrounding it in brownish yellow, and its paint is peeling off; the dish’s surface feels rough and uneven, with fingertip-size sunken pits, indicating it likely was handmade. The three figures which are a part of the soap dish possess physical features and clothing styles of the Yamato Japanese. Our best guess is that the object is made of terracotta and paint. Japan was then in the period of the Meiji Restoration (1867-1912), when the government sponsored modernization and westernization; the Meiji national system aimed at moving away from Asia and closer to Europe in its modernization process.
History Bites continues its fall season with a live lecture by Lincoln Anniballi on Henry Wilson and the Civil War. The presentation will be at noon on Friday, September 23, in the Woodbury room of the Jones Library.