Indian Corn

Nakazyo, Kumio
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Object Detail

This close-up, botanical, almost abstract image by Japanese artist Kumio Nakazyo, tells the story of international trade and cultural influence around the globe over thousands of years.

The broad stems and strappy leaves of the maize plant (also known as flint corn or Indian corn) in this image have been produced using a style of print making called woodcut. By this method an artist carves an image into the surface of a block of wood. Areas that the artist cuts away carry no ink, while characters or images at surface level carry the ink to produce the print. This style of printmaking originated in Ancient China and in the 13th century was imported to Europe. In the 1860s, just as Japan was becoming aware of Western art in general, Japanese prints began to reach Europe in considerable numbers and became very fashionable.

Flint Corn, also known as Indian corn, was first introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in 1579 and was originally called nanban-morokoshi. “Nanban” was a term that came from China that means “southern savages,” and was used to refer to any number of things that came from overseas. The type of corn the Portuguese brought with them from South America produces hard kernels that are ground up as fed for farm animals. In 675 Emperor Tenmu, a devout Buddhist had banned meat consumption, a policy that lasted nearly 1,200 years. As a result, the production of corn didn’t take off in Japan until the Meiji Period (1868-1912) when, in 1875, the ban was lifted, and animal farming increased. Emperor Meiji claimed he needed to eat meat to socialise with foreigners rather than for nutrition. Today, Japan is the world’s biggest importer of corn, three-quarters of which comes from the United States. Most of it is for animal feed.
hxw: 400mm x 500 mm (image)
420mm x 520mm (sight)
Framed: 555 x 650 mm
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Wellington City Council has permission from the copyright owners to use the images. You may not make copies, reproduce, sell or distribute these images. Apply to the copyright holder directly for permission.


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