8/12/2014

Edo laquerware

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. Edo shokunin 江戸の職人 Edo craftsmen .
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Edo shikki 江戸漆器 Edo lacquerware

. urushi 漆 lacquer ware from Japan .
- Introduction -


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Tokyo Lacquerware Cooperative Association
Tamagawa Shikki Co.,Ltd. 2-15 Kandatsukasamachi, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

- quote
Edo Shikki - (Lacquerware)
The base of Edo Shikki (lacquerware) is created using the following techniques:
1 - Kokuso*1 filler is applied to base woods. Nunokise*2 is the gluing of untreated linen to base woods. Sabitsuke involves applying a mixture of fresh lacquer and whetstone powder. Nakanuri*3 is the application of intermediate coats of lacquer. Togi is a burnishing process, etc.



2 - There are two major lacquering techniques. One is the "Roiro Finish." This involves the repeated application of layers once the previous layer of lacquer has been polished. The second is the "Nuritate Finish" (the "Standing Lacquer Finish"). This involves the application of lacquer directly by brush.

3 - Decoration involves processes such as Maki-e (gold reliefs), Raden (mother of pearl inlays) and Chinkin (sunken gold inlays).

*1 Kokuso: Is a substance that combines together lacquer, paste and sawdust. It is applied to joints and areas to which engraving has been done to the base woods.

*2 Nunokise: After strengthening base woods (by vigorously applying lacquer to all surfaces to ensure better adhesiveness of successive lacquer layers), untreated linen is affixed to the wood surface using Noriurushi, a mixture of paste and lacquer.

*3 Nakanuri: After the application of Shitanuri (initial coats of lacquer), Nakanuri (intermediate coats) are applied with a brush. These coats of lacquer do not contain oil. As with the initial coats of lacquer, these coats are polished to a fine finish using charcoal.


■Traditionally Used Raw Materials
Urushi (Japanese lacquer) is a natural material sourced from the sumac tree (scientific name: Toxicodendron vernicifluum).
The following types of wood are used in the manufacture of Edo Shikki: Chestnut, Zelkova, Magnolia obovata, Cherry and Katsura. Other timbers with similar properties may also be used.

■History and Characteristics
Lacquered bowls and multi-tiered boxes have continued to be used in our day-to-day lives through the ages. In addition to being used every day, these items enliven special occasions such as the New Year and other celebrations via their appearance at mealtimes.

Even today, many households use lacquerware which has been passed down over successive generations.

Once lacquer is dried, lacquerware is not impacted by acidic or alkaline substances. It also possesses strong insulation properties with respect to heat and electricity.

Moreover, by not being just a coating material, lacquer works to prevent both staining and rotting of the base woods used in lacquerware. It also acts as a strong adhesive.

The lacquer tree (the sumac) is a deciduous variety whose leaves turn in color to refreshing hues before they shed in autumn. Sumac trees are described as being unique to Asia with a geographic distribution that includes Japan and China.

Until World War Two, good quality lacquer was gathered in Japan. Today, most of the lacquer used in production is imported from China.

A single piece of lacquerware passes through the hands of a number of craftsmen before completion. The process commences with the lacquer tree being "tapped" for its sap. Next a craftsman called a "Kijishi" (a wood turner) processes untreated wood and creates from it items such as bowls and multi-tiered boxes. These are then passed to a "Nurishi" (a lacquerer) who applies the lacquer. The lacquerware is finished once it has passed through the hands of a "Maki-e shi" (a decorator) who etches patterns as well as sprinkling gold and silver powder over the lacquerware.

The task of applying lacquer is a battle against time. In that there is the quick shift to applying the next coat of lacquer once the surface of the previous coat has dried; sometimes it means that under the surface of the previous coat there are areas not fully dried. Thus, special attention is paid when applying successive coats. Once lacquer on base wood is hardened, application of the undercoat, middle coat, and topcoat is continued as repetitious work involving lacquering and polishing, the task is one of perseverance.

It is said that the finer a piece of lacquerware, the more times it has been lacquered.

Overseas, as the long traditions of China in the production of ceramics led ceramics to be known as "china," in that lacquerware was known at one stage as "japan," the country has had a very long tradition of producing such products.
- source : www.sangyo-rodo.metro.tokyo.jp


This article in Japanese is here :
伝統的な技術 - 技法
- source : www.sangyo-rodo.metro.tokyo.jp/shoko

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some technical terms

hiramaki-e  平蒔絵 flat-sprinkled design
jigaki 地書き fine line drawing
kirigane 切り金 cut patterns from gold or silver foil
takamaki-e 高蒔絵 relief-sprinkled design
togidashi 研ぎ出し finishing by polishing
tsutsu 筒 sprinkling rod


The various steps:
① shita-e下絵 ② okime 置き目 ③ jigaki地書き ④ shitamaki 下蒔き ⑤ shitamaki toki 下蒔き研ぎ ⑥ takaage 高上げ ⑦ takatogi 高研ぎ ⑧ kinmaki 金蒔き ⑨ kinpun katame 金粉固め ⑩ kinpun togi 金粉研ぎ ⑪ suri-urushi 摺り漆 ⑫ migaki 磨き


. Maki-e, makie 蒔絵 lacquer pictures .
and haiku about them

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. Edo shokunin 江戸の職人 Edo craftsmen .

nurishi, nuri-shi 塗師 lacquer master

The kijishi 生地師(きぢし)prepared the vessels
the nurishi 塗師 applied the lacquer base
the makie-shi 蒔絵師(まきえし)applied the images.



Lacquer items from the Nezu Museum
- source : Nezu Museum Tokyo -


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東京都中央区佃1-4-12

中島の漆 Nakajima san
pursues a tradition of more than 300 years. He produces the pieces all by himself.


saucers for Japanese tea cups 脱乾漆の茶托

LOOK at more samples by Nakajima san:
- source : www.urusigei-nakajima.com




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「江戸漆器とは何ですか?」



- source : www.edoshikki.com

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. Legends and Tales from Japan 伝説 - Introduction .

- reference : nichibun yokai database 妖怪データベース -
urushi 漆 96 to explore

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- - - To join me on facebook, click the image !

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. raden 螺鈿 mother-of-pearl - inlay .

. Japanese Architecture - cultural keywords used in haiku .

. - Doing Business in Edo - 商売 - Introduction .

. senryu, senryū 川柳 Senryu poems in Edo .


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