Combative forms of movement meet all the criteria required to be called “arts”. Additionally, items associated with martial art theory and practice can be shown in a variety media and appreciated as objets d’art in their own right. This anthology presents the aesthetic side of the martial arts as they are found in numerous examples of material culture and items of fine art.
An often neglected but incredibly rich area for seeing martial themes represented in art are museum collections. Five of the fourteen chapters in this book deal with museum collections. In many museums you can find interesting items that reflect aspects derived from a martial tradition. Weaponry is the most obvious category. You may also discover items in other categories that are directly related, such as painted scrolls and training equipment. Other fascinating items can be hidden in plain sight.
It seems martial themes can be found in any museum category, including collections of statuary, ceramics, prints, paintings, jewelry, and calligraphy. For example, there are paintings of famous generals and battles, fearsome statues of temple guardian warriors, and philosophical insights in brush writings. While contemplating a particular collection from the interest of martial traditions, one museum curator said she had never previously thought of the collection from this perspective. — It’s enlightening.
Objects that exhibit martial themes are made by artists and craftspeople. Only some of these items go into museums. Others are found in personal collections, stores, research institutes, art galleries, universities, practice halls, and elsewhere. Aid in recognizing martial themes in objects is one objective of this book, regardless of where these objects may be found.
Who are the real martial art heros? What symbols were created to represent the warriors’ bravery and ethical codes? This anthology—comprised of fourteen chapters conveniently gathered here for your ease of reading—assists anyone interested in discovering the artistic representations of martial traditions. In doing so, we hope that readers who appreciate the contents of this book will be inspired to discover and appreciate the artifacts associated with the martial side of the world’s cultural heritage.