choukin 彫金
KEY WORD : art history / crafts
Chasing. Carving patterns or letters with a chisel on metal work. A common technique is nanako-uchi 魚々子打 (fish-roe engraving) in which fine granulation is produced with a round-headed chisel. The effect is usually used as a ground pattern. Introduced from Persia to China in the early Tang dynasty, it was first seen in Japan in the early Nara period with examples in the *Shousouin 正倉院 collection. *Kebori 毛彫 (hairline carving) with a sharp V or U shaped chisel, is another basic technique. In the Yayoi period, some bell-shape bronzes doutaku 銅鐸 employed this technique, and in the Kofun period it was used for harnesses and arms. In the Asuka period, it was used for images of Buddha and Buddhist altar fittings. In the Nara period, representative kebori included the lotus petal pedestal of the Great Buddha at Toudaiji 東大寺. In keribori 蹴彫 (kicking engraving), a double-edged chisel is wielded in an upright posture to make an extended, delicate line with wedge-shaped notches. In the Heian period it was widely used, especially for kyouzou 鏡像 (a reflected image). Sukibori 鋤彫 (plow carving), also called sukidashibori 鋤出彫 (plowed out carving), uses a chisel held obliquely to plow the surface to create relief patterns. Takanikubori 高肉彫 (high relief carving), may be done by leaving part of the pattern uncarved and carving other parts deeply to create a sense of volume, by indenting a metal sheet from the back and carve sections on the front side, or by making patterns separately and adding inlay. Usually gilt or inlaid gold or silver are used with takanikubori. *Usunikubori 薄肉彫 (low relief carving) creates a more pictorial effect than takanikubori and is often used for *tsuba 鍔 (sword guards). Katagiribori 片切彫 (one side cut carving) uses the katagiritagane 片切鏨 (chisel) to make a line with one deep side to parallel the one-sided shading technique of Maruyama school *Maruyama-Shijouha 円山四条派 painting; often found on swords, it is credited to Yokoya Soumin 横谷宗みん (1670-1733). Other choukin techniques include uchidashibori 打出彫 (embossed engraving), shishiaibori 肉合彫 (two level engraving), hannikubori 半肉彫 (half body engraving), marunikubori 丸肉彫 (body engraving), *sukashibori 透彫 (openwork engraving), and *zougan 象嵌 (inlay). Materials are gold, silver, copper, iron platinum, an alloy of copper and gold, and brass. In Japan, choukin is often used for sword guards, tsuba, kozuka 小柄 (knife attached to a sword sheath), kougai 笄 (metal rod attached to a sword sheath), menuki 目貫 (ornamental piece on a sword hilt), fuchigashira 縁頭 (sword pommel), Buddhist altar fittings and incense burners.


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