Re: Western clocks in 19th century Japan - addendum

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Posted by Dmitry Goldgaber on November 07, 2002 at 12:02:08:

In Reply to: Re: Western clocks in 19th century Japan - addendum posted by Hans Olof Johansson on November 07, 2002 at 09:56:03:

: Dmitry,

: The print at is from the same series as the one illustrated in Amy Reigle Newlandīs book, so it was most probably designed and published in 1874 too.

: The lack of understanding of Roman numbers is most probably one of the explanations of why the clocks in these prints look like they do, though some of them (I, II, III or even X, XI and XII) shouldnīt have posed any problems, with their similarity to their Japanese equivalents.

: This American clock depicted by Yoshikazu, that I found in Ukiyo-e taikei, vol 10 (1974), certainly appears to prove the point:


: Itīs from a print published in 1860, and it demonstrates that Yoshikazu (or the carver) certainly didnīt pay much attention to details that he didnīt understand the meaning of. The slightly skewed distribution of the numerals on the clock face may be influenced by the kind of Japanese clock face described by Koop and Inada. Yoshikazu may not have realised that the distribution of "dots" and numerals is always fixed on a Western clock face.

: Best regards,
: Hans Olof

Dear Hans Olof,

The print of Yoshikazu that you found is a very convincing argument in support of the first explanation: the Japanese artists were not familiar with Western clocks at that time. There is a lesson in this story. The tests that researchers use in cros-cultural studies should be implemented with full understanding of the differences between the cultures. It is not always done.
Thank you very much for your help.

Best regards,

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