daiku 大工
KEY WORD : architecture / general terms

1 Often pronounced daikou. Also ootakumi or ookitakumi in old Japanese. The highest office which could be held by a skilled artisan in the field of architecture and building construction within the ritsuryou 律令 governmental system, particularly important in the 7c. Daiku were ranked below the lower-fifth grade jugoi 従五位 in official court hierarchy. The officials beneath them were, in descending order of seniority, shoukou 少工, choujoukou 長上工, banjoukou 番上工 and shichou 仕丁. The office of daiku was not confined to carpenters but was held by senior artisans within a variety of specialized fields including earthworkers, tile manufacturers, turners, plasterers, cypress bark roofers *hiwadabuki 桧皮葺 and blacksmiths. Daiku were classified according to their department, the woodworking department mokuryou 木工寮, repair department shuurishiki 修理職, or palace construction department zouguushou 造宮省 or according to the institution they worked for Toudaiji construction carpenter zou toudaijishi daiku 造東大寺司大工.

2 In the latter half of the Heian period, the term daiku came to refer to the master craftsman in charge of a given project rather than an official permanently employed by a particular department. In all the specialized building trades - carpenters, smiths, plasterers, roofers, tile makers etc - the master craftsman was referred to as daiku, with chou 長 and then ren 連 ranked in order below him. The daiku and his subordinates were no longer public employees but private architectural construction managers.

3 In the mediaeval period, with the establishment of guilds za 座 and daikushiki 大工職, daiku came to mean both the head of the guild and the leader of the community of craftsmen involved in private and public construction projects.

4 In the Edo period, 2 categories of daiku emerged: the shigotokata daiku 仕事方大工, who were employed directly by the military government bakufu 幕府 as master craftsmen in charge of public construction projects; and the private town carpenters machikata daiku 町方大工 whose activities were confined to the private sector. Master carpenters in the service of the bakufu were known as odaiku 御大工 or odaiku gashira 御大工頭, and had daiku touryou 大工棟梁 and daiku kimoiri 大工肝煎 as their subordinates. Machikata daiku had kimoiri 肝煎 below them, and beneath them again were hiradaiku 平大工. By this time, following precedents set in the Muromachi period, the master carpenter in charge of a given construction project had come to be referred to as *touryou 棟梁. In the Edo period the position of master carpenter was hereditary, and well-known families of master carpenters, such as the Nakai 中井 family, emerged. The machikata daiku operated an apprentice system which normally involved a five year training program during which the trainee lived in the teacher's house.

5 On the island of Sado 佐渡, daiku referred to an artisan who specializes in roofing. Believed to be an abbreviation of yanefuki daiku 屋根葺大工, which may be rendered in English as master thatcher.


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