kirikane 切金
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Also written 截金. Lit. cut-gold.

1 Metal foil *haku 箔, generally gold or silver, cut into long, thin strips, or, triangular, square, and lozenge shapes systematically arranged to form lines or a decorative pattern on sculptures and paintings (see *kirihaku 切箔). Exquisite use of kirikane is often found in the decoration of the robes of Buddhist images. The technique was passed down from Tang China and reached Japan around 7c. Kirikane is found on the late 7c Shitennouzou 四天王像 in Houryuuji Kondou 法隆寺金堂 and on the 8c Shitennouzou 四天王像 at Toudaiji 東大寺. The kirikane technique was popular in the 9-12c, for both sculpture and painting. An outstanding example from this period is the 12c painting of Kokuuzou bosatsuzou 虚空蔵菩薩像 in the Tokyo National Museum. In the early 13c, examples of the designs became more delicate and complicated, but often conventional and stylized. Since the mid-13c gold outlines tended to be drawn in gold paint kindei 金泥, and thereafter the use of kirikane declined.

2 A decorative technique used on *makie 蒔絵 (gold and silver applied to lacquer). A thin sheet of metal, generally gold or silver, is cut into squares, rectangles and triangles and affixed with lacquer forming clouds, mist, ground, trees and rocks. This technique was first developed in the Kamakura period and soon became highly prized for its ornate quality.


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