Every day, from city to city, from country to country, the new cases of Coronavirus are increasing drastically. As of 28 March 2020, There are already more than 650,000 confirmed cases with more than 30,000 deaths around the world according to worldometer.
And there are not enough surgical masks, for patients, for people who want to protect themselves, but in particular for the health workers like doctors and nurses who have to be exposed to people infected for hours on end.
In Hongkong, a city of 7 million which was hit hard 17 years ago by SARS, almost all Hongkongese wear face masks when they go out after the outbreak of Covid-19, which means 200 million surgical masks per month.
In Italy, the country most affected by the pandemic besides China, many health workers have been forced to wear their mask for up to 12 hours, exposing them to the danger of being infected.
In Spain, the chemical and automobile manufacturers have needed to leave their masks for the health workers.
In France, the minister of Solidarity and Health Ministry for distribution Olivier Veran said 30 million masks would last only three days for the medical personnel.
In the United States, many doctors, nurses and first responders have had to spray their masks with bleach at the end of each day and hanging them up at home to dry to use for another day, and some medical professionals urged the public online to donate whatever they’ve stockpiled to local health care facilities.
When a small piece of material usually not even noticed by most of us become a scarcity, what is happening around the world?
Amancio Ortega, the man who created Zara, the largest clothing retailing chain in the world promised to provide 300,000 facial masks per week to the health workers through Spain.
Chinese business man, the founder of Alibaba Jack Ma donated more than 1 million face masks to Russia
Someone made them
In Spain, in Alicante province, a group of aparadoras – women who stitch shoes in their own homes, have sewed thousands of facial mask for their local hospital.
In a small Murcian town named Yecla famous for furniture production, more than 30 companies joined together to repurpose their factories as face mask makers.
The nuns from Santa Clara Convent in Mallorca have sewn more than 1,200 face masks for the health workers on the island.
Their sisters of different orders and different country are doing the same: The Dominican nuns at Our Lady of the Rosary Monastery in New Jersey have been sewing face masks for their local hospital.
In 16th arrondissement of Paris, a man possessing more than 23,000 face masks was arrested as he intended to sell those masks, which has been forbidden by French Goverment soon after the outbreak of Covid-19.
In Malaga Spain, a doctor was suspected of stealing 300 face mask while working and is now being investigated.
As of 23 March 2020, more than 350,000 people around the world have been infected by coronavirus, and more than 15,000 of them have died.(source: worldometer)
Italy, the first country outside of China to implement lockdown, has 59,138 people infected and 5,476 deaths, and its Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced extension of the national lockdown instead of the original ending date of 3 April.
Spain's prime minister Pedro Sanchez has also requested to extend the state of emergency for another 15 days, until 11 April.
And France is very likely going to do the same.
We have no choice.
We will have to stay at home longer.
But we can choose to be happy while at home.
No. 1: Take care of yourself
Music, meditation, massage, an indulgent long bath, hundreds of candles, lavendar infused pillows, a cup of the best white tea in the world.....
Pamper yourself, you are worth it!
No. 2: Cook for yourself or someone you love
No matter what happens, we always need to eat, and eating and cooking can have healing effect at a time like this. Of course, we need to be careful not to make the food delicious to get too fat to celebrate the ending of coronavirus pandemic.
Dance. Dance alone or with someone else.
Dance quickly, dance slowly;
Dance vertically, dance horizontally;
Dance on the floor, dance in the air;
Just dance. "When we move, our state of mind changes." someone says
So dance, dance to be happy.
No. 4: Learn a new language
Her name is Bella Devyatkina. This adorable little girl is from Russia, and she can speak Russian, French and English when she was 2 years old, and when she was four, she can also speak Spanish, German, Chinese and Arabian.
If we assume Bella started to learn language at 1 year old, that would be one languge per 5 months; and if we are going to be locked down for one month, we can at least learn 1/5 of a language, and the longer the lockdown, the better our new language skill, very good trade-off.
And we can still beat Bella at one thing: she does not speak Corean!
By now we all know South Corea is becoming a model in the fight against coronavirus, without any lockdown. So it will not be a bad first travel destination post-coronavirus.
Besides, the hugely popular serie Good Doctor featuring Freddie Heymore actually is a remake of the South Corean serie of the same name.
So it seems South Corea does have really good doctors.
Let's go to Seoul and be safe!
No. 5: binge watch movies or tv series
Now it is the best time to do it!
We have time, and we have popcorn!
Only to remember washing our hands for 20 seconds before popping any porcorn into our mouth!
And, yes, we can start by watching The Good Doctor, which is really good and really addictive, and very scary and healing, like a visual chicken soup of the soul.
No. 6: Start a new project or even new business
Amazon is crashed sometimes after shoppers around the world who have to stay at home order online;
Netflix Europe has to lower its digital quality because two many people are watching videos at the same time;
People working in offices are working from home remotely;
Classes of high school to universities are moving online;
Classes of language learning, yoga, pirate and other sports, are conducted online.
We think we are living in digital age, but now we are being pushed toward the digital village.
If you have thought about any project that is digital, you can start now, it will be the future. Even after coronavirus, nothing will be the same again, some of the classes will not be moved back to physical classrooms, some of us will continue to go shopping online only, some of the tasks and jobs will contiune to be conducted remotedly, become optional or even disappear completely...
No. 7: Entertain your neighbors
From Paris to Neples, singers and musicians are using their talents to entertain their neighbours from their windows and balconies, you can do the same, too. Who knows, you might be the next viral balcon talent!
To make us feel even more happier, we can also enroll in a free class called The Science of Well-Being offered by University of Yale for free, which is taught by professor Laurie Santos and is the most popular class in Yale's history.
So perhaps looking for happiness has become our priority even before the outbreak of coronavirus.
Stay home, stay safe!
Time of Coronavirus: 19 March 2020, First day of Spring, we are being locked down by nature, locked up in home prison
Thursday 19 March 2020, is the first day of spring in all countries in Northern Hemisphere, the earliest in 124 years.
The flowers are blossoming, the birds are chirping.
But we can not see it.
We are not allowed to go out.
Because thursday, 19 March 2020, is also the 10th days of Italy's national lockdown of 60 million people due to Covid-19 pandemic, with over 35,000 confirmed cases and nearly 3,000 deaths from the disease.
China was the first country to implement lockdown on 23 January 2020 in Wuhan, the city where the first case of Coronavirus was found, which eventually expanded to some other cities affecting more than 57 million people.
On 14 March 2020, Spain went into national lockdown, then France, Denmark, Ireland, Poland, El Salvador, New Zealand.....
From city to city, from country to country, we're being "locked down";
We are being "locked up" because home, sweet home is now prison, soft prison.
Some of us are even being "locked in" as they have to be with someone else 247, love or no love.
We are living with longings:
And we are facing fear.
And all of us are asking: Why? Why is this happening?
In her powerful Ted talk, global health expert Alanna Shaikh has suggested that the outbreak "is the result of the way we as humanbeings are interacting with our planet, human choices are driving us into a position where we are going to see more".
In other words, we are doing this to ourselves, we are being punished by nature, for our intrusion and manipulation.
Perhaps the outbreak of cornavirus in 2019 is a sign that we're intruding too much, and the advance of the spring 2020 is another sign that we are manipulating too much.
In the same TED talk, Alanna Shaikh has also stated that"This is not the last major outbreak we're ever going to see...there is gonna be more outbreaks, and there is gonna be mor epidemics. That's not maybe, that's a given."
So even we can survive the pandemic this time by staying at home, we can not do it again, not because it's boring or frustrating, but because maybe it will not be enough, or not effective at all.
What we need to do, is to stay away from nature where we are not wanted.
On 9 March 2020, Italy went into national quarantine under the order of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, allowed to go out only for necessity, work, and health circumstances;
On 14 March 2020, Spain follow suit, and Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez formally declared a state of emergency.
Three days later, on 17 March 2020, French president Emmanuel Macron asked all French people to "restez chez vous"(stay at home), because "Nous sommes en guerre"(We are at war")
In just one week, three most beloved European countries in the world in 2019 have all of their shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, museuems....everything within their countries, as well as their borders, closed, all because of a virus which does not need passport.
And their people?
Stay at home, Stai a casa, Restez chez vous, Quedate en casa.
And when you go out, maintain social distance, at least one meter from each other.
And what is happening to these three Latin people who like to kiss and hug each other, talk to each other for hours on end while being very close to each other, loving the human contact as much as the street outside of their homes.
How are they adjusting the new "Lockdown life style"?
The Italian way
Italy was the first Western democracy to adopt such extreme measures in the face of the very dangerous Covid-19. At first the lock down was implemented only in the Lombardy area in the North, the richest region in Italy with Milan the fashion capital as its center.
Then it was nationwide.
It has profundly changed every Italian's life, from North to South, from Bergamo to Palermo.
Life becomes indoor business. You drink your coffee, do your homework; You talk to your friend over phone, take your yoga or pilate classes online; You skype and stream, and feel scared, hoping your neighbours are not catching the virus, and worried, worried about the future, worried that that you may have done 99% of things correctly to protect yourself and your family, to only be attacked by the virus on a bag of rice.
It has been 10 days after the lockdown in Italy, most people have been supportive of the drastic approach of the goverment and been trying to adjust, but according to the Italian police, about 43,000 people have violated the decree, among them a man in Sicily tested positive went out shopping, and a priest who officiated a funeral near Venice, with some of the violators claiming not understanding the restrictions.
Similar to Italy, Spain's epicenter of coronavirus is also in Northern area, including Madrid and Barcelona, the biggest two cities in Spain, but Spain went directly to national lockdown, forbidding its citizens to go out until absolutely necessary, like buying grocery, medicine, and curiously, tobacco.
To live indoors for Spanish, is just as difficult as for Italians, who are people of outdoors. But even for some non Spaniard who works from home as freelancer, it feels as if the time had stopped, and something as mundane as taking out the trash could cause attention of Police, and walking your dog has transformed from a chore into a priviledge.
And you can't help being amused by how Spaniards are using their creativity to deal with the lockdown.
The French style lockdown is very similar to the Italian style: You need to have a self printed "attestation"(a travel permit signed by yourself) to justify your reason for moving about, but you can walk your pet and you can still jog and ride bicycle(which seems to be banned on Thursday 19 March), as long as it's close to your home and not for too long.
Around 100,000 police have been mobilised to set up checkpoints throughout the country to enforce the rules, and in just one day, over 4000 French people were fined due to violation of the rules.
Although no paper is needed in Spain during lockdown as in France and Italy, but breaking rules can mean up to 30,000 euro fines, compared with Italy's 206 euros and France's 135 to 375 euros.
The most beautiful things that has come out of the lockdown, are the balcony and window concerts held in all three countries, by talented singers and musicians for their neighbours, and the nightly ritual of applauding to the health workers, which is now spread all over Europe.
And the Latin way
What is the most curious thing about the national lockdowns in Italy, Spain and France?
The tabacco shops are allowed to open as well as supermarkets and pharmacies, as it accounts as essentials in all three countries.
It has been proven by medical data that people who smoked and are smoking are more vulnerable to coronavirus, and Global health expert Alanna Shaikhhasand has suggested in her TED talk that it is the best moment to quit smoking.
So, it seems that besides the Italian way, Spanish way, and French way lockdown, there is also The Latin way.
On 9 March 2020, the government of Italy under Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte imposed a national quarantine, restricting the movement of the population except for necessity, work, and health circumstances, in response to the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.
Less than a week later, on 14 March 2020, The Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez formally declared a state of emergency, placing the country in lockdown and ordering people to stay at home for the next two weeks unless they have to buy food or medicine or go to work or hospital, meaning more than 100 million Europeans in the two countries are now in lockdown.
On 16 March 16 2020, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier told its people to "stay at home".
On the same day, The White House urged all older Americans to stay home and everyone to avoid crowds and eating out at restaurants as part of sweeping guidelines meant to combat an expected surge of coronavirus cases.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is still under quarantine after his wife tested positive for Covid-19, urged people to stay at home and closed its border to "People who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents."
Even Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister who has previously asked only the people with symptoms to stay at home, has changed his tone to urge all people to stay at home and avoid all unnecessary social contact with others.
Today, one day later, on 17 March 2020, French people are required to stay at home after midday unless they need to buy groceries, travel to work, exercise or for medical care, making France the third European country into National lockdown after Italy and Spain.
And all Schengen borders are now closed.
After Italy's lockdown, the Italian people have invented various creative ways to live with the new norm. Some cafes learned to serve the espressos on a tray with a handle longer than 1 meter(the new standard of social distancing), some people became runners so they can stay outside longer, but more Italians sang from their balconies (called by someone "balconi") to entertain their neighbours with national anthem or operas.
Across Spain, Spanish people are having new ritual of applauses from their windows or terraces at certain time every night, to thank the health workers who are at the frontline of the war against coronavirus everyday.
Meanwhile, however, there are people who have learned a trick to stay outside: borrow dogs from the neighbour. Because according to the Spanish government statement: you can not go out, but if you have a dog, you can walk your furry friend with four feet.
As the lockdown continues, perhaps Italy will become a running country and Spain will have more dog owners.
What will the French people do to live with national lockdown? Making more love? Or like the president Emmanuel Macron suggested: Read?
What is cheek kissing
Cheek kissing is a ritual or social kissing gesture to indicate friendship, family relationship, perform a greeting, to confer congratulations, to comfort someone, to show respect.
Cheek kissing is very common in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, Central America and South America. In other countries, including the U.S. and Japan, cheek kissing is common as well at an international meeting between heads of state and First Ladies or members of royal and the Imperial families.
Depending on the local culture, cheek kissing may be considered appropriate among family members as well as friends and acquaintances: a man and a woman, two women, or two men. The last is less socially accepted in many cultures.
In cultures and situations where cheek kissing is the social norm, the failure or refusal to give or accept a kiss is commonly taken as an indicator of antipathy between the people, and to dispel such an implication and avoid giving offense may require an explanation, such as the person has a contagious disease such as a cold. (Wikipedia)
On 13 March 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Europe as the world's COVID-19 pandemic epicenter, when cases in Italy and other nations on the continental Europe soared.
At the time of WHO's declaration:
Italy has 17,770 cases and 1,255 deaths,
Spain has 4,209 cases and 120 deaths,
France has 3,661 cases and 79 deaths,
Germany has 2,860 cases.
Today on 15 March 2020, the WHO's online COVID-19 dashboard shows the dramatical increase of infected cases in the most affected countries in continental Europe.
Italy: 21157 cases
Spain: 5753 cases
France: 4469 cases
Germany: 3795 cases
Switzerland :1359 cases
Netherlands :959 cases
Sweden :924 cases
Norway :907 cases
Denmark :827 cases
Belgium :689 cases
Austria :655 cases
To view WHO's world situation dashbord, you can click here
Where does the ritual of cheek kissing come from
In his book One Kiss or Two: In Search of the Perfect Greeting, Andy Scott believed that “In his Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul instructed followers to ‘salute one another with a holy kiss.’ And so the ‘holy kiss’ became a common greeting among early Christians and a central part of Catholic ceremony.”
Overtime perhaps the holy kisses on lips evolved into more mild kisses on the cheek, and is still very popular in many Catholic countries like Latin America and continental Europe.
In Latin American countries Argentina, Chile, Columbia or Peru, one kiss on the cheek is enough, where it is more usual to kiss two times on the cheek in countries like Italy, Spain, Germany, or three kisses for Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, etc.
Will the ritual of cheek kissing be abandoned post Coronavirus?
In France, the country of romance and famous French kisses, the number of cheek kisses practiced by French people can be either two or three depending on the regions they are in.
In early March 2020, French president Emmanuel Macron ordered its citizens to stop kissing each other on the cheek as the coronavirus spreads across Europe rapidly.
And health minister, Olivier Véran sent the same message to ask people to stop participating in the traditional cheek kissing(la bise):
"The reduction in social contacts of a physical nature is advised," Véran said at a media briefing in Paris. "That includes the practice of the bise. The virus is circulating in our territory and we must now slow down its spread."
Monsieur Véran said "These measures are temporary and we will likely have to revise them," But even one day in the near future the spread of virus is finally contained, and the restrictions of cheek kissing do not exist anymore, how many people will restrain from doing that on their own because of fear?
In 1348, during the time of the Black Death in Italy, a group of seven young women and three young men flee from plague-ridden Florence to a deserted villa in the countryside of Fiesole for two weeks. To pass the evenings, each member of the party tells a story each night, except for one day per week for chores, and the holy days during which they do no work at all, resulting in ten nights of storytelling over the course of two weeks. Thus, by the end of the fortnight they have told 100 stories.
Each of the ten persons is in charge of choosing the theme of the stories for that day, and all but two days have topics assigned: examples of the power of fortune; examples of the power of human will; love tales that end tragically; love tales that end happily; clever replies that save the speaker; tricks that women play on men; tricks that people play on each other in general; examples of virtue. Only Dioneo, who usually tells the tenth tale each day, has the right to tell a tale on any topic he wishes, due to his wit.
Thus is the story written by Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio, a few years after the epidemic of Black Death in Italy.
Now, more than 600 years later, Giovanni Boccaccio's Italy is attacked by a new pandemic caused by a virus called Covid-19, and the whole country is being on National quarantine. The people who love to chat and laugh and being close to each other now all have to stay at home, and go out only if necessary, with facial masks, no smiles and at least 1 meter from each other.
But the Italian people are living, not surviving, as Paola Locati of Milan wrote: "First, certain areas of the Lombardy region, where I live with my family, were put in lockdown, then it was the entire region on Sunday, then suddenly it was the whole country. Now how do we live? (I am purposefully not using the term “survive” – I refuse to.) "
A woman of courage.
(To read Paola Locati's article: The hardest thing about Italy’s coronavirus lockdown? Caging my teenage daughter)
And other Italians are writing their own Decameron, one way or another.
A young woman named Mary Gray from Giovanni Boccaccio's hometown Florence had to count her coins because of the crisis but went out to buy flowers for herself instead of bread;
An English teacher in Rome was cheered by a lively grocer who turned out to be a teacher himself helping his sister as he is now on vacation because of school closures;
A woman living near Codogno (the town where the first cases of COVID-19 in Italy were reported) started to feel "like life is on hold", yet "was learning to appreciate little things, like the sound of the birds in the morning, the slow pace of life and the time spent alone in my home".
(To read the whole article: Coronavirus: What Our Contributors in Italy Think of Country-Wide Lockdown)
But the most evocative account of Italy in lockdown, came from Beppe Severgnini, a column writer for Corriere della Sera from Crema, "a quintessential Italian community where everyone knows each other"...less than 15 miles away from the original lockdown areas of Codogno and Castiglione d’Adda":
"As I write, it’s 10 a.m. and the square is empty — a bizarre silence. Normally, the square teems with students, shoppers, farmers, friends heading to cafes for their morning cappuccino. Beneath my window, pensioners usually gather to catch the early sun. Today the sun bounces off the bricks of the cathedral, undisturbed except for a lonely cyclist pedaling through the Torrazzo gate — a woman, apparently, though it’s hard to say behind the face mask. Even the church bells sound different in the empty quiet.
When people have appeared, they’ve given one another a wide berth. So un-Italian. Normally, people charge into each other and greet with affection, shaking hands, kissing and embracing. Italy is a touchy-feely society. We tend to trust our senses and intuition more than grand ideas (those are Germany’s trademark). For us, life is food, wine, music, arts, design, landscape; the smell of the countryside; the warmth of one’s family, and the embrace of friends. Those involve our mouths, our noses, our ears, our eyes, our hands.
Fear of Covid-19 forces us to repudiate those senses. It’s painful."
(To read the whole story: My Lockdown Diary, From a Small, Old Town in Italy)
Nobody knows how long Italy will be in national lockdown, nobody knows if and when other European countries will do exactly the same to slow down the outbreak, but what the Italians are doing are very inspiring, something we may need in the coming weeks, or even days.
Salute to the brave Italians, Boccaccio's compatriots!
Property sale: Jackie Kennedy Onassis's 340-acre estate on Martha’s Vineyard is listed for $65 Million(58 million euro)
The décor at Red Gate Farm seemed nothing if not cozy and comfortable…But the prevailing air of casualness and happenstance was deceptive,"
Caroline Kennedy, daughter of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis is selling Red Gate Farm, a 340 acre compound on Martha Vineyards purchased by her mother in the late 1970s for $1 million, a property with over a mile of Atlantic Ocean beachfront near the clay cliffs of Gay Head.
The listing price is $65 million. If it sells for close to its asking price, the deal would mark a record for a single-family estate on Martha’s Vineyard. The current record, $32.5 million, was set in January by the sale of an estate once owned by the late Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham.
When she was first lady in the early 1960s, Jackie Kennedy and her husband liked to spend their summer in Hyannis on Cape Cod, known as "Kennedy compound," the summer White House of President John F. Kennedy, Ms. Onassis’s first husband. After assasination of John F. Kennedy and her marriage to Aristote Onassis, she continue summering there. Then her children John Kennedy and Carolyn Kennedy grew up and she needed a place of her own to read books and be connected to nature, so in 1978, she purchased the Red Gate Farm, a ferry ride away from Hyannis.
Jackie O engaged architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen to design the main house and a two-story guesthouse, which were completed in 1981, and her friend Rachel "Bunny" Mellon has designed the landscapes.
Barbara Leaming, the writer of the book Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story commented that Ms. Onassis was very particular about the renovation. "She wrote out her copious instructions to staff on index cards, such as the one affixed to a kitchen cabinet interior, which specified exactly which flowers were to be placed in which vessels in which areas of the house," she wrote.
Carolyn Kennedy said her mother "loved the old stone walls, the blue heron that lived in the pond behind the dunes, the hunting cabin that was the only thing on the property when she acquired it, the clay cliffs, the Wampanoag legends, water skiing and setting lobster pots in Menemsha Pond and building a fairy treehouse for her grandchildren."
A few years after the death of her mother, Carolyn Kennedy and her husband Edwin Schlossberg spent a few million dollars to renovate the place, with the help of Deborah Berke, dean of the Yale School of Architecture.
The newly refurbished property comprises a 6,456-square-foot house as well as a guesthouse. The main house includes a formal sitting room with a fireplace, a drawing room, living and family rooms, a library, a dining room and a large kitchen. There are also two outdoor decks, a den and two offices that could also be used as art studios. All rooms except the dining room overlook the ocean. The guesthouse has an additional four bedrooms.
Ms. Kennedy said she is selling because her three children have grown up and it is time for the family to "spread its wings." "Martha’s Vineyard will always be a part of our lives, but it is time for us to follow my mother’s example and create our own worlds," she said. "We hope that another family will treasure this place as we have for three generations."
The property is listed with Christie’s International Real Estate.
Kimono(きもの/着物)is a traditional Japanese garment, and the national dress of Japan. It is a T-shaped, wrapped-front garment and is worn left over right (unless the wearer is deceased). It is usually worn with an obi belt, alongside a number of other accessories, such as zōri shoes and tabi socks.
The kimono is constructed of mostly rectangular pieces of fabric, cut from a specific bolt of fabric known as a tanmono, which is 38–42 cm (15–17 in) in width and 12.5 m (41 ft) in length. Various types of kimono indicate the wearer's age, gender, the formality of the occasion, and less commonly, marital status, when worn; decoration, style of wear, and accessories also denote these. Types of kimono can range in formality from the extremely informal to the most formal of occasions.
The first prototypes of what would become the kimono were introduced to Japan via Chinese envoys during the Kofun period. The Imperial Japanese court quickly adopted Chinese styles of dress and clothing.
As a clothing, it was first called Kosode (meaning 'small sleeves'), and later evolved into Kimono (meaning 'the thing to wear') during the Meiji period(1868-1912).
By the mid-seventeenth century it became the principal item worn by everybody in Japan, rich or poor, man or woman, thanks to the emergence of 'pattern books' which show the outline of the kimono with indications of the pattern, colour and style allowing people from all over Japan to choose the kimono design they wanted.
As the people influencing fashion and taste during that time were the Kabuki actors and the courtesans like Geishas who all wore Kimonos, Kimono is connected to the 'floating world' – a world of pleasure, entertainment, and drama that existed in Japan from the seventeenth century through to the late nineteenth century.
In order to cater to the discerning tastes of the Kabuki actors and Geishas who like to wear kimon with particular shade and design, the Japanese craftsmen had elevated Kimono making into an art form, using hand painted silk fabric. Some of the Kimonos are so precious they became family heirlooms, passing down from generation to generation.
The exhibition of Victoria & Albert Museum: Kimono:Kyoto to Catwalk presents the kimono as a dynamic and constantly evolving icon of fashion, revealing the sartorial, aesthetic and social significance of the garment from the 1660s to the present day, both in Japan and the rest of the world.
In the mid-seventeenth century Japan guarded its door to western world meticulously and its only trading partner is the Dutch East India Company whose employees had taken the kimono back to the west, which became so popular they asked the Japanese to make more kimonos in particular styles that satisfied the tastes and demands of Europeans, and called them 'Japanese robes'.
But it was in the nineteenth century, when Japan opened its ports to international trade, that the kimono really took off in European fashion.
According to the exhibition curator Anna Jackson:
"Kimonos were brought over en masse to Europe, America, New Zealand – often stylish women were depicted in such garments."
The kimono also appeased the intellectual and aesthetic movements of Orientalism and Japonisme that emerged in the nineteenth century, when Japan and its culture problematically represented an 'exotic other' to Europeans. For the painters specifically, the intricate detail and embroidery of the kimono 'allowed artists to show off their skill.
After the Second World War, Kimono became outdated as it was reputed to be uncomfortable and difficult to wear, and the modern Japanese has adapted the western clothing instead.
But it has experienced a number of revivals in popularity over the decades and is still worn as fashionable clothing within Japan, most often older men and women (who may have grown up wearing it), geisha, maiko, and sumo wrestlers, who are required to wear traditional dress whenever appearing in public.
And Kimono as a culture influence to the west has never stopped, both in fashion and in art and has been object of private collection as well as that of the museums around the world.
The V&A exhibition is unique in the sense that it intents to change museum traditions, which have often divided fashion and fine art into separate categories.
According to Anna Jackson, the museum is displaying the kimonos on mannequins and models rather than simply using traditional display cases.
'If you look historically at how kimonos are exhibited in museums, including in the V&A, they are always displayed on a T-bar structure, as this allowed viewers to see the detail on the kimono's surface – the patterning, the colour, the design. But the danger of displaying the kimono in this way means you only see it as a work of art rather than as a piece of clothing.'
'Unlike what we have in the west, there isn't a divide in Japan between fine art and decorative art. They painted on a kimono and designed on a kimono – it was like a canvas that one could wear.'
'Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk' is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, from 29th February to 21st June 2020.
Auction: Paintings of Asia, Major Works by French auction house Aguttesfeaturing Chinese painter Sanyu and Lin Fengmian
On 11 March, French auction house Aguttes is going to present a meticulously curated sale Paintings of Asia, Major Works, featuring works by some of the most sought-after artists. Top lots of the sale are Sanyu’s Potted Peonies in a Blue and White Jardiniere (1950s) and Lin Fengmian’s Femme au miroir.
Potted Peonies in a Blue and White Jardiniere (Fleurs en pot dans une jardinière bleue et blanche sur une table bleue)is a masterpiece created by Sanyu(ChangYu 1901-1966) in the 1950s. Flowers is one of the artist’s signature motifs throughout the course of his career. The work was acquired directly from the artist by Comtesse Matilde Locatelli and thus by descent. It was then acquired by a Spanish private collector and remained in the collection since then for about 70 years.
Sanyu (1901-1966). Potted Peonies in a Blue and White Jardiniere
Oil on hardboard, signed lower right
Lot no.: 1
Created in: 1950
Size: 109.8 x 79.8 cm
Estimate: €2,500,000 - 3,500,000
Sanyu, born in a province of Sichuan, was one of the first Chinese artists to visit Europe in the early 1920s. When he moved to Paris, he was captivated by the incandescent art scene. He attended classes at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, and became a regular visitor to the cafés of Montparnasse. A brilliant artist with an inquisitive mind, he formed connections with numerous artists and figures of his time. The patron and collector Henri-Pierre Roché supported him for a while, introducing him to Picasso, Matisse, Foujita and Man Ray. Within the environment of the Paris School, he learned to combine aspects of his traditional Chinese education with the foundations of Western modernism. The distinctive feature of the style he developed was this union of two cultures, its essence lying between Eastern serenity and Western aesthetics.
Although his work was misunderstood and known to very few during his lifetime, the intercultural dynamics he explored and this form of hybridisation, which was totally new at the time, undoubtedly made him a pivotal artist with a key role in the history of Chinese art.His work was gradually rediscovered in the late twentieth century, and a number of international retrospectives were dedicated to him. Today, Sanyu’s work has finally been acclaimed by the art world.
Also on auction is Woman with a Mirror by Chinese painter Ling Fengmian (1900-1991). It reflects the Western qualities that imbued his work, particularly in the shape of the face, where the influence of Modigliani’s portraits is discernible.
This type of woman’s portrait, characteristic of Ling Fengmian's style in the 1950s and early 1960s, invariably featured a flower in a vase or a ceramic bowl. The diaphanous feel of the petals and the transparency of the white garment are achieved through the light, skilful application of the paint. Black and blue tones highlighted with white in the background of the work, where a few hazy red lines suggest architecture, set the figure of this young woman in an indeterminate space that immerses the viewer in a sense of reverie and contemplation.
Lin Fengmian (1900-1991). Woman with a Mirror
Ink and color on silk, signed and stamped by the artist lower left
Lot no.: 2
Size: 67.5 x 65.5cm
Estimate: €250,000 - 350,000
Born in 1900 in Guangdong province in China, Ling Fengmian wanted to become a painter from an early age. In 1918, he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, then the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris the following year. On his return to China in 1926, he became president of the Beijing National Academy of Arts. In 1928, he founded the Hangzhou Academy of Arts with Cai Yuanpei. He was considered the father of Chinese modernity, with students who included Chu Teh-Chun and Zao Wou-Ki. He used Western techniques like watercolours and oils to achieve effects of transparency, and used square formats, very different from the traditional formats found in Chinese painting.
The auction detail:
Aguttes ｜11 March 2020, Paintings of Asia, Major Works
24 February 2020 (Monday) to 3 March 2020 (Thursday) ｜10am - 1pm，2pm - 6pm (except Fri afternoon and weekends)
Official exhibition dates & address
9-10 March 2020｜11am - 6pm
11 March 2020｜11am - 12pm
Address: Paris, Drouot salle 2 : 9, rue Drouot
11 March 2020 (Wednesday)｜2:30pm (local time)
Address: Drouot salle, Drouot-Richelieu, 9, rue Drouot 75009 Paris
Aguttes is the fourth largest French auction house and the first one to be independent, with no outside shareholders. Founded in 1974 by Claude Aguttes and now run with two of his daughters—Philippine Dupré la Tour and Charlotte Reynier-Aguttes—the auction house has a team of 60 people. In 2018 the company passed the symbolic €50-million auction milestone, a result never before achieved by an independent auction house in France. In 2019, Aguttes totalled €66 million.
With an international saleroom located in western Paris and representative offices in Brussels, Lyon and Aix-en-Provence, Aguttes stands out for its personalised service and responsiveness. The auction house is positioned on the valuation and auction of exceptional works and major French collections. In 2019, thanks to its international buyers (who amount to 70% of all buyers), it has held 76 auctions above €100,000, 4 sales of million-euro lots, and 15 world records.
Aguttes is positioned as the alternative to art market leaders in its 15 specialised departments: Asian painters, Old Masters Paintings & Drawings, Asian art, Russian Art, Classic Cars, Jewellery & Fine Pearls, Collector Watches, Rare Books & Manuscripts, Contemporary, Modern & Impressionist Art, Design, Furniture & Decorative Art, Wine & Spirits.
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