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Student Showcase Archive

Kamla Sultan Alolama

MA work

MA work

Ornament in Meiji Japan (1868-1912): Making | Motif | Object

This paper looks at ornament in Japan in the Meiji era.  The Meiji era was a turning point for Japan, affecting social, political, economic, and technological aspects of life.  This paper tackles the Meiji approach to Japanese ornament using three perspectives: ‘motif’ with a focus on process-based ornament, in this case kanoko shibori; ‘making’ with a close look at the kyoto embroidery industry; and ‘object’ examining art textiles.  

The first chapter on ’Making’ explores ornament making in Meiji Japan, with a focus on embroidery in Kyoto, the old capital.  It explores the materiality of embroidery by analysing the process, technology, and materials involved, as well as well as attempt to map out the various actors that played a part in the embroidery network of the time.

The second chapter on ’Motif’ examines the different factors that played a hand in the choices of motifs being used and disseminated.  ‘Motif’ uses the  kanoko shibori to study the transmateriality of motif.  Statistical analysis was also conducted in this chapter on sketches produced by the Bureau of Design for export objects.

The third chapter, ’Object’ focuses on art textiles combining the knowledge gained by the first chapter about the the materiality and technology of embroidery, as well as from motif, in the second chapter.  The chapter also uses luxury, value, and cultural exchange as frameworks for gaining a better understanding of ornament objects.



  • MA Degree


    School of Arts & Humanities


    MA History of Design, 2018

  • Degrees

  • Bachelor of Interior Design, American University of Sharjah, 2011
  • Experience

  • Designer and Founder, Kamla's Designs, Dubai, 2013–2016; Intern, Artec, Dubai, 2010