Handbook for the Appreciation of Ivory

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Handbook for the Appreciation of Ivory

Message par Tsubo » 15 Septembre 2022, 12:39

Handbook for the Appreciation of Japanese Traditional Crafts by the Japan Kōgei Association

Ivory has been used by man since earliest times, its density, hardness and sheen making it an ideal material for carving.
During the Nara period (710-794) ivory was employed in the making of bachiru (polychrome ivory) work footrules using ivory stained red, green and navy blue, marquetry using white and coloured ivory, and ivory sword-handles and sheaths. The Shosoin Treasury, for example, is famous for the red bachiru work footrules that have survived from this early period. During the Edo period (1615-1868) ivory was used in the making of netsuke, toggles used for hanging dress accessories from the sash worn with traditional Japanese clothing, and during the Meiji period (1868-1912) it was used in the creation of elaborately carved ornamental sculptures (okimono).
The techniques of bachiru work have their origins in Tang dynasty (618-906) China. Ivory whose surface has been stained red, green or blue is finely engraved so that motifs show through in white against a coloured ground. The staining technique has recently been rediscovered, allowing the revival of the tradition by artists working today.

Terms used

Shosoin Treasures = Examples of bachiru (polychrome ivory) work footrules preserved in the Shosoin Treasury on which designs have been finely engraved into red, green and blue surface-stained ivory.
Netsuke = Decorative toggles popularly used in the Edo period (1615-1868) for suspending dress accessories such as tiered medicine containers (inro) and tobacco pouches from the sashes worn with traditional Japanese dress. They are usually carved in the form of containers, plants, animals or human figures.