Written by Rayna Wang.
Pyrotechnics, The History and Art of Firework Making, from the rare book collection at Cooper Hewitt’s design library, is illustrated with several wood-block prints of Japanese fireworks made by Hirayama Firework factory in Yokohama, Japan in the late 19th century. Fireworks were firstly developed in China, then Japanese pyrotechnics developed them to a degree of perfection. The Japanese word for fireworks is hanabi, where hana means flowers and bi means fire. The stars, are thrown out in symmetrical patterns in the air, often in the arrangement of flowers. Through the centuries Japanese artists have sought to capture the display and meaning of these creations by firework masters. From wood-block prints in the 19th century to the bright and bold shapes and colors of the fireworks, the Japanese aimed to capture every fleeting moment. It is a celebration of fleeting beauty.
Rayna Wang is a graduate student in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies program through Parsons and the Cooper Hewitt.