Asian Women Artists: A Biographical Dictionary, 2700 BCE to Today

McFarland. Oct. 2022. 257p. ISBN 9781476689258. pap. $75. REF
Snodgrass (Coins and Currency: An Historical Encyclopedia; Women’s Art of the British Empire) offers an engaging, thoroughly researched guide to women artists and creators from across Asia. Entries are presented chronologically by artist’s birth date, starting with Chinese empress Leizu, who invented silkworm reeling and weaving in 2700 BCE, and ending with Malaysian muralist Caryn Koh, who created the 2021 mural exhibition Connections. Each entry includes extensively cited biographical information and describes the cultural context in which the artist lived and worked. This volume features women who worked with a variety of media—pastels, illustrations, opera, graphic comics, fiber arts, dance, and even dictionary compilation and tattooing. Snodgrass goes beyond biographical details to provide insight into why these women became creators, from Kurdish writer Leyla Zana, who wrote from prison about the torture of minority Kurds in Turkish prisons, to Pashtun folksinger Zarsanga, who spent a lifetime upholding traditional folk music traditions in British-controlled India. This comprehensive text concludes with two appendices—“Artists by Genre” and “Artists by Place”—along with a glossary of terms.
VERDICT Providing a window into the many accomplishments of Asian artists over the centuries, this illuminating and useful resource is an important purchase for larger public libraries and academic institutions.
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