Handbook for the Appreciation of Ink stones

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Handbook for the Appreciation of Ink stones

Message par Tsubo » 15 Septembre 2022, 12:43

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

Ink stones and ink sticks (sumi) have been unearthed in China from sites dating back to more than 2000 years ago. Since then Chinese ink stones have been made either from fired clay or so-called Tankei stone. Ink stones were introduced to Japan from China along with other aspects of continental culture. Ceramic ink stones fired in Sue ware (Sueki) kilns from the 5th century onwards are frequently found at archaeological sites. The true development of Japanese ink stones did not, however, occur until after the 12th century. The expansion of learning and literature in the 17th-18th century led to increased demand for ink stones, which in turn encouraged the development of new centres for ink stone production in various parts of the country. Amahata ink stones from Yamanashi Prefecture are especially fine and are as sought after as Chinese Tankei ink stones. Although ink stones are essentially utilitarian items used for writing, the high level of craftsmanship that goes into their making has meant that they have long been regarded as works of art.
Materials used for ink stones include clay slate and diabase tuff. The best known types are Akama-ishi (Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture), Amahata-ishi (Kajikazawa-machi, Yamanashi Prefecture), Homei-seki(Horai-cho, Aichi Prefecture), Shiun-seki (Iwate Prefecture), Kohan-seki(Shiga Prefecture), Shakuoji-seki (Kyoto Prefecture), and Nachi-ishi (Mie Prefecture).
Ink stones are made largely by hand. The initial piece of stone is carved with chisels to make it flat and roughly shaped with an electric saw. Chisels with very hard blades of tungalloy are then pushed from the shoulder on wooden shafts to carve the ink stone into shape. Polishing is carried out with rough and fine whetstones, and in the final stage of the process the ink stone is covered with a thin film of wax or urushi lacquer applied by cloth. Ink stones may be square or round, or may utilise the natural form of the stone. They may also be embellished with various kinds of patterning.

Terms used

Butsuga = General term for Buddhist painting of all kinds, including wall paintings and books with silk or washi paper leaves.
Chinese ink stone materials = China is blessed with many varieties of stone suitable for the making of ink stones. These have always been much sought after in Japan as well as in China. The oldest and most famous variety is so-called Kemboku stone, but there is also Tankeistone, prized since the middle of the Tang dynasty (618-906), and Kyujo stone, admired since the late Tang and the following Five Dynasties period (906-960).