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January 27, 2009 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Mingei is a transcultural word which combines the Japanese words for all people (Min) and art (Gei). The site has a flash interface and features over 5,000 high resolution, zoomable objects. More information on the Mingei Movement.
posted by tellurian (13 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Mingei is a transcultural word which combines the Japanese words for all people (Min) and art (Gei)."

Wouldn't that be a Japanese word?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:19 PM on January 27, 2009


民芸 (mingei) is a plain-old Japanese word that means "folk arts."

Appropriating and repurposing foreign words is fine. The Japanese are ruthless about it with English. But let's not pretend these guys are making up a new word.
posted by adamrice at 4:32 PM on January 27, 2009


Mingei wasn't coined in 1924?
posted by tellurian at 4:52 PM on January 27, 2009


Sure it's a Japanese word ChurchHatesTucker, but it's transcultural in that I can point at an object made in Oceania, South America or Europe and say "That is so mingei" and it will mean that it is 'made by anonymous crafts people, produced by hand in quantity, inexpensive, used by the masses, functional in daily life and representative of the region in which it was produced.'
posted by tellurian at 5:00 PM on January 27, 2009


Craft is cool, no matter where ya find it. Thanks for the link.
posted by DenOfSizer at 5:05 PM on January 27, 2009


I can point at an object made in Oceania, South America or Europe and say "That is so mingei" and it will mean that it is hurf durf

I recommend saying "That is folk art" instead, as more people will understand you.
posted by shii at 5:30 PM on January 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I can point at an object made in Oceania, South America or Europe and say "That is so mingei" and it will mean that it is 'made by anonymous crafts people, produced by hand in quantity, inexpensive, used by the masses, functional in daily life and representative of the region in which it was produced.'"

Well, sure you could. I could point at it and say, "That is so Bitchin'!" (by which I mean folk art embedded in an annoying Flash page.) Doesn't make it a transcultural term, though, unless other cultures embrace it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:33 PM on January 27, 2009


an annoying Flash page
I was waiting for that.
I'm embracing the mingei.
posted by tellurian at 6:02 PM on January 27, 2009


Metafilter: Embracing the Mingei
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:41 PM on January 27, 2009


And it even seems like the most direct translation would be "folk art;" it isn't even a hard-to-define thing, like déjà vu, or a word that encapsulates a whole lot more than a direct translation, like bushido.

Also: don't moderate your own thread, please.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:12 PM on January 27, 2009


What'd you call me?
posted by nasreddin at 9:48 PM on January 27, 2009


Well, they aren't inventing a new word, but the word was invented quite recently — in the 1920s, by Yanagi Sōetsu and a couple other guys whose names I forget. And since they had a very specific philosophy and strict criteria regarding what counted as mingei and what didn't, it encapsulates at least as much as the word "bushido." There is therefore a case for using the word "mingei" untranslated if you're referring specifically to Yanagi Sōetsu's ideals, which I think these folks are.

(Also, if you insist on translating it, "folk craft(s)" is better than "folk art" because one of the most fundamental criteria of mingei is that they are made to be used, not looked at. That said, this ideal takes a bit of a beating when you start building mingei museums, websites, etc.)
posted by No-sword at 3:50 AM on January 28, 2009


The Japan Folk Art Museum in Osaka is right down the road from my building, and I took a lot of photos when I went there with my family.
posted by emmling at 4:51 AM on January 28, 2009


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