hengaku 扁額
KEY WORD : 1 architecture / tea houses ; 2 art history / paintings
1 Also called *gaku 額. A tablet or board, framed or unframed, on which the name of tea ceremony room or copies of inscriptions by Zen priests, revered tea masters or famous people are carved. In some instances the background has been chiseled away leaving the characters raised. Very rarely, this type of inscription is written on paper. Typically, the wood used includes; cedar, pine, zelkova, cypress or cinnamon wood, katsura 桂. After the carving is completed, Chinese white or a bluish-green is used to bring out the form of the characters. The frames are usually rectangular, oblong or round. Sometimes no frame is used and the edges of the board are left rough or hammered. The name may be followed by such characteristic appellations as an 庵 (hermitage retreat); tei 亭 (arbor/cottage); sai 斎 (room/equal); seki 席 (room/straw mat); kyo 居 (residence/remain sitting); dou 堂 (temple/reception room); ken 軒 (eaves/house counter) etc. The tablets are hung outside on the gable wall, tsumakabe 妻壁, protected by overhanging eaves *noki-no-de 軒の出, over the crawl-in entrance *nijiriguchi 躙口, under the pent roof *tsuchibisashi 土廂, or inside. Generally though, the host was free to hang the tablets at his own discretion. Even two tablets, one inside and one out, could be hung, or none at all. Examples: Omotesenke Mu-ichibutsu 表千家無一物 in Kyoto, Urakuen Jo'an 有楽宛如庵 in Aichi prefecture. Shourinji no Chatei, 少林寺の茶亭 in Okayama prefecture.

2 Plaques carved with the names of buildings and hung from the eaves of gates or doors. This custom probably began in China during the Qin dynasty. During the Tang dynasty, it became customary for the emperor to offer a framed inscription when a Buddhist temple was built. This custom was transmitted to Japan, where carved wooded plaques can be found at the entrance gates of temples and shrines. One of the oldest examples is at Toudaiji 東大寺. Framed paintings, calligraphy, as well as *ema 絵馬, votive paintings of horses and other subjects on wood, were also popularly hung at temples and shrines.


(C)2001 Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. No reproduction or republication without written permission.