hangi 版木
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Also called ita 板. The wood used for the curved blocks which make woodblock prints *ukiyo-e 浮世絵. Cherry wood is the principal wood used for woodblock printmaking in Japan because the wood grain is fine and, unlike some wood which contains harder or softer spots thoughout, cherry has an even internal consistency. Cherry thus stands up to minute carving and hundreds of rubbings. Hardwoods like boxwood, tsuge 黄揚 are also used as they are ideal for highly detailed areas in a woodblock print design. However, hardwoods are more expensive and difficult to obtain in large sizes than cherry wood. The best cherry wood is that which is grown on the Izu 伊豆 coast and is known as shioboku 潮木. This wood allows for extremely smooth cutting with the *kogatana 小刀. There are rare cases where a cross section of boxwood will be used as an inlay when very minute carving is needed. Boxwood is also used for repair plugs. Cherry woodblocks are manufactured by specialists who are known as itaya 板屋, the prepared woodblocks being passed on to the carvers. The surfaces of these woodblocks have to be absolutely level for the purpose of printing. Warping and distortions in woodblocks do occur, however, regardless of how the wood has been seasoned and prepared. As imperfections are revealed by the use of the blocks, they are further seasoned in the process which makes the wood easier to carve: good woodblocks might be planed down for yet another use. This kind of reused hangi is called a furu-ita 古板. Also a different composition might be carved on the back of an old block. The thickness of the original woodblock might end up less than half of the original size.


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