Discover the Regions in Italy Where the People Descended from the Medieval or Ancient Greeks, and Still Speak Greek

All of us, across the world, know that Italy is shaped like a boot. But almost none of us know that, in the regions of Apulia and Calabria at the country’s “heel” and “toe,” live small communities who, among themselves, still speak not Italian but Greek. The word “still” applies because these peoples, known as Griko (or Grecanici), are thought to have descended from the much larger medieval or even ancient Greek communities that once existed there. Of course, it wouldn’t have been at all unusual back then for inhabitants of one part of what we now call Italy to speak a quite different language from the inhabitants of another.

John Kazaklis at Istoria writes that “the Italian language did not become the staple language until well into the end of the 19th Century during the process of Italian unification, or the Risorgimento,” which turned the Tuscan dialect into the national language. Yet “there exists today a tiny enclave of Greek-speaking people in the Aspromonte Mountain region of Reggio Calabria that seem to have survived millennia.”

Are they “descendants of the Ancient Greeks who colonized Southern Italy? Are they remnants of the Byzantine presence in Southern Italy? Did their ancestors come in the 15th-16th Centuries from the Greek communities in the Aegean fleeing Ottoman invasion?” Everyone who considers the origins of the Griko/Grecanici people (or their Griko/Grico/Greko languages) seems to come to a slightly different conclusion.

“I suspect they speak a dialect more closely related to the Koine Greek spoken at the time of the 11th century Byzantine Empire, the last and final time Southern Italy was still part of the Greek-speaking world,” writes Grecophone Youtuber Tom_Traveler, who visits the Griko-speaking villages of Gallicianò and Bova in the video above. “Or perhaps it was influenced by Greek refugees fleeing Constantinople upon its fall to the Turks in 1453.” However it developed, it’s long been a language on the decline: “the clearest estimate of remaining Greko speakers seems to be between 200-300,” Kazaklis wrote in 2017, “and numbers continue to decrease.” In the interest of preserving the language and the history reflected within it, now would be a good time for a few of those speakers to start up Youtube channels of their own.

via Messy Nessy

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Venice Explained: Its Architecture, Its Streets, Its Canals, and How Best to Experience Them All

“If you’re in Venice, you might not enjoy it so much if you follow a tour-guide route that gets you to the main attractions.” So says Youtuber Manuel Bravo — whom we’ve previously featured here on Open Culture for his videos on Pompeii, the Duomo di Firenze, and the Great Pyramids of Giza — in “Venice Explained” just above. “But if you get off that road, the charm of Venice is that it’s such a tangled mess that nobody ventures out there” — out, that is, into the “wonderful little neighborhoods with little squares with cisterns and little cafés.” Diminutive though that may sound, Venice comes off in Bravo’s analysis as an entire, unique urban realm unto itself.

“Historically, Venice is really detached from Italy proper,” Bravo says. “It was not a Roman town. It does not have the detritus of Roman ruins scattered around. It does not have remnants of a Roman town plan with cardo and decumanus. It does not even have, well, land.”

Indeed, Venice is famous for having been built in the Adriatic Sea, on a “new fortified ground plane” made of strong trees imported from Croatia. As its political and economic importance grew, so did its “incomparable medieval urban landscape that has remained practically unchanged.” This built environment is full of architectural styles and details seen nowhere else, to which Bravo draws our attention through the course of the video.

Though he recommends departing from the tourist-beaten paths, he doesn’t ignore such world-famous Venetian structures as the Ca d’Oro, “perhaps the most beautiful building in Venice”; the Doge’s Palace with its “antigravity” architecture; and — in detail — the Basilica and Piazza San Marco, “one of the most memorable spatial complexes in the history of urban planning.” No first visit would be complete without some time spent at each of these sites. But “Venice is a city of light,” and in order properly to enjoy it, we must “see it at different times of the day and experience all the nuances that it offers”: good advice in this “most visually seductive of all the cities in the world,” but also worth bearing in mind as a means of appreciating even the less majestic places in which most of us usually find ourselves.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Welcome to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoc, the Town with the Longest Name in Europe

Its name can be squeezed onto a tea towel, a decorative plate, a magnet, a mug, and other touristic souvenirs, but has the northern Welsh town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoc been celebrated in song?

Indeed it has. The Great Big Story‘s Human Condition episode, above, has vinyl proof, though the tune’s unlikely to give The White Cliffs of Dover, The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, or The Rocky Road To Dublin much of a run for the money.

Still, whichever outside-the-box Victorian thinker had the bright idea to attract tourists by expanding the village’s original name – Pwllgwyngyll – by 46 letters was onto something.

Turns out you don’t need natural wonders or world-renowned cultural attractions to stake a claim, when out-of-towners will make the trip just to take photos of the local signage.

Image by Adraio, via Wikimedia Commons

Village Community Council Chairman Alun Mummery attributes the name-lengthening publicity stunt in 1869 to a local cobbler.

Or perhaps he was a tailor. That’s what poet John Morris-Jones, author of 1913’s A Welsh Grammar, Historical and Comparative, maintained, while refusing to outright identify this clever civic booster.

Wikipedia throws doubt on these origin stories by citing an entry in an ecclesiastical directory published a few years prior to 1869, which gave the full parish name as “Llanfair­pwll­gwyn­gyll­goger­bwll­tysilio­gogo.”

(Close enough!)

Someone in the tourist information office told travel writer Dave Fox that it translates to “St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the red cave.”

It’s tempting to think this little Welsh town has the longest name in the world, but that honor actually goes to Bangkok.

Wait, what?

The name by which most foreigners know Thailand’s capital city is actually an archaic reference to its pre-1782 location.

Thai people call their capital Krung Thep – short for Krungthepmahanakornamornratanakosinmahintarayutthayamahadilokphopnopparatrajathaniburiromudomrajaniwesmahasatharnamornphimarnavatarnsathitsakkattiyavisanukamprasit.

It means “City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra’s behest” and looks like this, when written in Thai script:

กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลก ภพนพรัตน์ ราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์ มหาสถาน อมรพิมาน อวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะ วิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­gochians still get to brag that they have the longest town name in Europe.

Their football club, Clwb Pêl Droed Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch Football Club – CPD Llanfairpwll FC for short – might well be the longest named football club in the world if it weren’t for that damn Amon Rattanakosin Krung Thep Mahanakhon Mahinthara Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Ayuthaya Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit Bravo Association Football Club (aka Bangkok Bravo FC).

Some of the fun of living in a town with such a cumbersome name must be amazing tourists by how casually it rolls off local tongues.

Pub owner Kevin Bryant obliges visitors from The Great Big Story by downing a pint on camera before rapping it out.

Anything for the local economy!

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoc also got a boost from mentions on Groucho Marx‘s quiz show, You Bet Your Life, in a Bossa Nova-inflected Stephen Sondheim song, and in several films, including 1968’s Barbarella.

As YouTuber Tom Scott points out below, long words are invariably shortened in everyday speech, and place names are no exception.

Postmaster Jim Evans advocates shortening the town name to Llanfair­pwllgwyn­gyll.

When not actively impressing tourists, local people say Llanfairpwll.

Which is still a pretty impressive consonant to vowel ratio.

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– Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto and Creative, Not Famous Activity Book. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

An Introduction to Chinoiserie: When European Monarchs Tried to Build Chinese Palaces, Houses & Pavilions

Today it would be viewed as cultural appropriation writ large, but when Louis XIV ordered the construction of a 5-building pleasure pavilion inspired by the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing (a 7th Wonder of the World few French citizens had viewed in person) as an escape from Versailles, and an exotic love nest in which to romp with the Marquise de Montespan, he ignited a craze that spread throughout the West.

Chinoiserie was an aristocratic European fantasy of luxurious Eastern design, what Dung Ngo, founder of AUGUST: A Journal of Travel + Design, describes as “a Western thing that has nothing to do with actual Asian culture:”

Chinoiserie is a little bit like chop suey. It was wholesale invented in the West, based on certain perceptions of Asian culture at the time. It’s very watered down.

And also way over the top, to judge by the rapturous descriptions of the interiors and gardens of Louis XIV’s Trianon de Porcelaine, which stood for less than 20 years.

Image by Hervé Gregoire, via Wikimedia Commons

The blue-and-white Delft tiles meant to mimic Chinese porcelain swiftly fell into disrepair and Madame de Montespan’s successor, her children’s former governess, the Marquise de Maintenon, urged Louis to tear the place down because it was “too cold.”

Her lover did as requested, but elsewhere, the West’s imagination had been captured in a big way.

The burgeoning tea trade between China and the West provided access to Chinese porcelain, textiles, furnishings, and lacquerware, inspiring Western imitations that blur the boundaries between Chinoiserie and Rococo styles

This blend is in evidence in Frederick the Great’s Chinese House in the gardens of Sanssouci (below).

Image by Johann H. Addicks, via Wikimedia Commons

Dr Samuel Wittwer, Director of Palaces and Collections at the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation, describes how the gilded figure atop the roof “is a mixture of the Greek God Hermes and the Chinese philosopher Confucius:”

His European face is more than just a symbol of intellectual union between Asia and Europe…The figure on the roof has an umbrella, an Asian symbol of social dignity, which he holds in an eastern direction. So the famous ex oriente lux, the good and wise Confucian light from the far east, is blocked by the umbrella. Further down, we notice that the foundations of the building seem to be made of feathers and the Chinese heads over the windows, resting on cushions like trophies, turn into a monkey band in the interior. The frescoes in the cupola mainly depict monkeys and parrots. As we know, these particular animals are great imitators without understanding.

Frederick’s enthusiasm for chinoiserie led him to engage architect Carl von Gontard to follow up the Chinese House with a pagoda-shaped structure he named the Dragon House (below) after the sixteen creatures adorning its roof.

Image by Rigorius, via Wikimedia Commons

Dragons also decorate the roof of the Great Pagoda in London’s Kew Gardens, though the gilded wooden originals either succumbed to the elements or were sold off to settle George IV’s gambling debts in the late 18th century.

Image by MX Granger, via Wikimedia Commons

There are even more dragons to be found on the Chinese Pavilion at Drottningholm, Sweden, an architectural confection constructed by King Adolf Fredrik as a birthday surprise for his queen, Louisa. The queen was met by the entire court, cosplaying in Chinese (or more likely, Chinese-inspired) garments.

Not to be outdone, Russia’s Catherine the Great resolved to “capture by caprice” by building a Chinese Village outside of St. Petersburg.

Image by Макс Вальтер, via Wikimedia Commons

Architect Charles Cameron drew up plans for a series of pavilions surrounding a never-realized octagonal-domed observatory. Instead, eight fewer pavilions than Cameron originally envisioned surround a pagoda based on one in Kew Gardens.

Having survived the Nazi occupation and the Soviet era, the Chinese Village is once again a fantasy plaything for the wealthy. A St. Petersburg real estate developer modernized one of the pavilions to serve as a two-bedroom “weekend cottage.”

Given that no record of the original interiors exists, designer Kirill Istomin wasn’t hamstrung by a mandate to stick close to history, but he and his client still went with “numerous chinoiserie touches” as per a feature in Elle Decor:

Panels of antique wallpapers were framed in gilded bamboo for the master bedroom, and vintage Chinese lanterns, purchased in Paris, hang in the dining and living rooms. The star pieces, however, are a set of 18th-century porcelain teapots, which came from the estate of the late New York socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor.

Explore cultural critic Aileen Kwun and the Asian American Pacific Islander Design Alliance’s perspective on the still popular design trend of chinoiserie here.

h/t Allie C!

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– Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto and Creative, Not Famous Activity Book. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Patti Smith Reads Sylvia Plath’s Poem, “The Moon and the Yew Tree”

Court Green, the rural Devon property Sylvia Plath called home for sixteen months toward the end of her life is a popular pilgrimage for Plathophiles, seeking to worship at the wellspring of some of her best known poems – The Bee Meeting, Daddy, Lady Lazarus, and many other works posthumously published in 1965’s Ariel.

(Her ex-husband Ted Hughes wrote his collection, Crow, there as well, not long after Plath died by suicide. Something tells us his widow, Carol, a staunch defender of her husband’s legacy, doesn’t exactly roll out the welcome mat when she sees starry eyed devotee’s of her husband’s first wife tromping around the perimeter of the property where she still lives…)

Plath scholar Dorka Tamás made the trip to St. Peter’s, the North Tawton church abutting Court Green. Plath took pleasure in describing its grounds in letters to friends and family, and immoratlized its massive yew in “The Moon and the Yew Tree”:

I looked around the Victorian gravestones, slowly passing the souls of the dead. The beautiful green trees could not contrast more with the Neo-gothic church. I knew at first sight which one is the yew tree in Plath’s poem. I was searching for the window of Court Green, Plath’s office window, from which she could have an expansive view of the yew…North Tawton has been an ambiguous place for both Plath and Plathians. In the year she spent in the isolated village, she produced her best and most well-known poems, but it was also a place where she experienced extreme isolation after Hughes left her. Nevertheless, the country life provided plenty of opportunities for Plath to explore her creative, aesthetic, and domestic independence, such as horse riding in the field of Devon, experimenting with beekeeping, painting her children’s nursery elbow chair, and making apple pie from the apples of her garden. The poetry and fiction Plath wrote between autumn 1961 and winter 1962 are embedded in the natural environment in Devon and community, places, and non-human life of North Tawton. 

Poet David Trinidad, an avid collector of Plath-related memorabilia, whose souvenirs include a vial of dust from the studio she occupied during a residency at Yaddo and a facsimile of a blue patterned Liberty of London scarf she gave her mother during a 1962 visit to Court Green, prizes his cuttings from St. Peter’s yew:

Plath wrote The Moon and the Yew Tree on October 22, 1961, less than two months after moving to Court Green. Everything in the poem is true: her property was separated from an adjacent church by a row of headstones; on Sunday eight bells would toll; an ancient yew tree grew in the church graveyard. …She doesn’t mention the yew tree specifically in any of her letters; she saved that for the poem.

Godmother of Punk Patti Smith, whose souvenirs run more toward Polaroids, wrote of visiting Plath’s grave in her memoir, M Train, and identifies the poet as someone who makes her want to write.

Her performance of “The Moon and The Yew Tree,” above, is more straightforward than Plathian, allowing the darkness of the work–which The Marginalian’s Maria Popova calls “one of (Plath’s) finest poems and one of the most poignant portraits of depression in the history of literature”–to speak for itself.

As Popova notes, the poem was written during a difficult period, in an attempt to fulfill a writing exercise suggested by Hughes, “to simply describe what she saw in the Gothic churchyard outside her window.”

Who would dare fault Plath for obeying the impulse to editorialize a bit?

The New Yorker had accepted but not yet published “The Moon and the Yew Tree” when Plath took her own life on February 11, 1963. It was published posthumously in a two-page spread along with five other poems six months later. You can read it online here.

via The Marginalian

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– Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto and Creative, Not Famous Activity Book. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The 5 Innovative Bridges That Make New York City, New York City

The Brooklyn Bridge ignites the passions of tourists and locals alike.

For every 10,000 visitors who pause in its bike lanes to snap selfies, there’s an alum of nearby PS 261 who celebrated its birthday with a song that mentions the fates of its engineers John and Washington Roebling to the tune of I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.

(A sample chorus: Caisson’s disease! Caissons disease! Caisson’s disease is really bad!)

Native son Adam Suerte of Brooklyn Tattoo estimates that he inks its likeness on a half dozen customers per month. (A temporary option is available for those with commitment issues…)

In 1886, a hustler named Steve Brodie claimed to have survived a jump off of it, a tale propagated by Bugs Bunny.

We watch movies at its feet and draw attention to causes by marching across it.

It continues to mesmerize artists, poets, filmmakers and photographers.

But, as architect Michael Wyetzner makes clear in his most recent video for Architectural Digest, it’s not the only bridge in New York City.

Also, despite what you may have heard, it’s not for sale.

Understandably, the hybrid cable-stayed/suspension superstar connecting Brooklyn to lower Manhattan takes the lead in Wyetzner’s coverage of five bridges that have had an enormous impact on the development of a city whose five boroughs were once traversable solely by ferry.

The other notable players:

The Hell Gate Bridge – a feat of WWI-era railroad engineering connecting Queens to Randall’s and Wards Island over a particularly perilous stretch of waterway, it was once the longest steel arch bridge in the world.

In his 1921 book New York: The Great Metropolis, painter Peter Marcus noted that “if laid over Manhattan it would reach from Wanamaker’s store at Eighth Street, to One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street.”

Macomb’s Dam Bridge, a low lying swing bridge whose center portion pivots to accommodate boat traffic on the Harlem River. When construction began in late 1890, the New York Times gushed that it would be a “street built in mid-air” between the Bronx and Washington Heights in upper Manhattan:

It is hardly enough to say of it that it will be the greatest piece of engineering of the kind in the world. Nothing like it has ever been attempted.

The High Bridge – Originally part of the Croton Aqueduct, it is technically the oldest surviving bridge in the city, as well as a community-led preservation campaign success story. Having languished in the latter part of the 20th century, it is now a beautiful pedestrian bridge whose killer views can be enjoyed without the hassle of Brooklyn Bridge-sized crowds.

The George Washington Bridge – a major money maker for the Port Authority, it’s not only the world’s busiest bridge, it puts a lot of the bridge in “bridge and tunnel crowd” by connecting Manhattan to New Jersey.

Architecture buffs can geek out on the Concrete Industry Board Award-winning bus station and storied Little Red Lighthouse in its shadow.

The GWB’s most ardent fan has got to be artist Faith Ringgold, who immortalized it in her Tar Beach story quilt and related children’s book:

 I never want to be more than three minutes from the George. I could always see it as I grew up.  That bridge has been in my life for as long as I can remember.  As a kid, I could walk across it anytime I wanted.  I love to see it sparkling at night.  I moved to New Jersey, and I’m still next to it.

Wyetzner, whose architectural round up shoehorns in a lot of interesting information about public health, economics, transportation, labor practice and New York City history, is actively courting viewers to suggest bridges for a sequel.

We’ll throw our weight behind the Manhattan, the Williamsburg, the Queensboro, the Verrazzano, and the admittedly dark horse 103rd Street Footbridge.


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– Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto and Creative, Not Famous Activity Book. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Why Hiroshima, Despite Being Hit with the Atomic Bomb, Isn’t a Nuclear Wasteland Today

Jan Morris visited Hiroshima in 1959, fourteen years after its devastation by the United States’ atomic bomb. “The city has long been rebuilt, and a new population has flooded in to replace the victims of the holocaust,” she wrote, “but for all the bright new buildings and the broad boulevards, no Pompeii is more surely frozen in its attitude of disaster, and no Mont Pelée more permanently scarred.” Despite the robust urban form and activity around her, she felt “for all the world as though the tall new buildings are not there at all, and the islands of the Ota delta are still blackened and smoking. Assured indeed must be the visitor who has not, just for a fleeting foolish moment, wondered if the stones of Hiroshima were still radioactive, or eyed the running water thoughtfully.”

Today, the very name of Hiroshima still evokes one thing and one thing only, at least to most foreigners. But if those foreigners actually make the trip to that once-destroyed city, it will probably strike them as even more incongruously alive than it did Morris those six decades ago.

Some would imagine that, given that the dropping of the bomb known as “Little Boy” remains just within living memory — its 78th anniversary passed just last Sunday — Hiroshima would be an abandoned nuclear wasteland. Here to explain why it flourishes instead is Youtuber Kyle Hill, whose new video above explains the difference between the long-term effects of nuclear devastation on Hiroshima and those on a place like the region of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

“For all the destruction it caused, the Little Boy bomb was terribly inefficient,” Hill says. “Of the bomb’s 64 kilograms of uranium, less than one kilogram underwent fission. This means that “every joule of energy that devastated Hiroshima, a fireball so hot it etched ‘negatives’ of people into concrete, a blast wave so intense, it shattered windows 200 kilometers away, came from less than a gram of matter converted directly into energy.” To the much more powerful nuclear weapons developed since there can be no comparison, even considering that Little Boy (like “Fat Man,” which hit Nagasaki) was detonated high in the air, not on the ground, thus causing relatively little lasting contamination. As a result, there’s no need to feel radiation-related hesitation about visiting Hiroshima. If you go, by all means visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, but don’t forget to enjoy an okonomiyaki or two as well.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Behold A Grammar of Japanese Ornament and Design: The 19th Century Book That Introduced Western Audiences to Japanese Art (1880)

In 1880, architect Thomas W. Cutler endeavored to introduce his fellow Brits to Japanese art and design, a subject that remained novel for many Westerners of the time, given how recently the Tokugawa shogunate had “kept themselves aloof from all foreign intercourse, and their country jealously closed against strangers.”

Having written positively of China’s influence on Japanese artists, Cutler hoped that access to Western art would not prove a corrupting factor:

The fear that a bastard art of a very debased kind may arise in Japan, is not without foundation…The European artist, who will study the decorative art of Japan carefully and reverently, will not be in any haste to disturb, still less to uproot, the thought and feeling from which it has sprung; it is perhaps the ripest and richest fruit of a tree cultivated for many ages with the utmost solicitude and skill, under conditions of society peculiarly favorable to its growth.

Having never visited Japan himself, Cutler relied on previously published works, as well as numerous friends who were able to furnish him with “reliable information upon many subjects,” given their “long residence in the country.”

Accordingly, expect a bit of bias in A Grammar of Japanese Ornament and Design (1880).

That said, Cutler emerges as a robust admirer of Japan’s painting, lacquerware, ceramics, calligraphy, textiles, metalwork, enamelwork and netsuke carvings, the latter of which are “are often marvelous in their humor, detail, and even dignity.”

Only Japan’s wooden architecture, which he confidently pooh poohed as little more than “artistic carpentry, decoration, and gardening”, cleverly designed to withstand earthquakes, get shown less respect.

Cutler’s renderings of Japanese design motifs, undertaken in his free time, are the lasting legacy of his book, particularly for those on the prowl for copyright-free graphics.


Cutler observed that the “most characteristic” element of Japanese decoration was its close ties to the natural world, adding that unlike Western designers, a Japanese artist “would throw his design a little out of the center, and cleverly balance the composition by a butterfly, a leaf, or even a spot of color.”

The below plant studies are drawn from the work  of the great ukiyo-e master Hokusai, a “man of the people” who ushered in a period of “vitality and freshness” in Japanese art.

A sampler of curved lines made with single brush strokes can be used to create clouds or the intricate scrollwork that inspired Western artists and designers of the Aesthetic Movement.

While Cutler might not have thought much of Japanese architecture, it’s worth noting that his book shows up in the footnotes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan: The Role of Traditional Japanese Art and Architecture in the Work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Take a peek at some Japanese-inspired wallpaper of Cutler’s own design, then explore A Grammar of Japanese Ornament and Design by Thomas W. Cutler here.

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Download Classic Japanese Wave and Ripple Designs: A Go-to Guide for Japanese Artists from 1903

Hundreds of Wonderful Japanese Firework Designs from the Early-1900s: Digitized and Free to Download

– Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto and Creative, Not Famous Activity Book. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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