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Hanging scroll traditional Japanese art

Hanging scroll traditional Japanese art is a popular décor in many Asian homes. Kakemono, translated as ‘hanging object,’ is the general term for Japanese hanging scrolls. Calligraphy and sumi-e artworks were often used to display as hanging scrolls. And they were often hung in Japanese-style reception rooms called tokonama (also toko). A tokonama in Japan is a highly respected place that first came in the late Muromachi period. Aside from hanging scrolls made of calligraphy and pictorials, flower arrangements like bonsai and okimono can also be seen in a tokonama.

The Chinese brought about mounting calligraphy and paintings on a scroll during the Tang dynasty in 17th-19th century. They were first introduced to Japan in the Heian period, and gained recognition in the Japanese society during the Kamakura period. At the time of the Muromachi period, hanging scrolls have established its importance at tea ceremonies. Although it started as a vessel in spreading Buddhist scriptures, hanging scrolls are now widely appreciated as a work of art.

The following are the common parts of a Japanese hanging scroll: HYOUSOU (backing) – the base of the scroll often made of cloth, silk and paper, where the main artwork or painting, and other decorative components are placed.

JIKU (lower crosspiece) – Another term for a Japanese scroll is kakajiku, with the first kanji character meaning ‘hanging’, and the second character (jiku) meaning ‘axix’. This part is the lower crosspiece, which facilitates in rolling up of the scroll for safekeeping. When a scroll is unrolled and on display, the jiku serves as the weight to keep the scroll from rolling up.

HYOUMOKU (upper crosspiece) – opposite the jiku is the hyoumoku, which fastens the scroll to the wall when being displayed.

ICHIMOJI (border) – it serves as the border at the top and bottom part of the centerpiece. Made of high quality brocade, the upper portion is kept twice as wide as the bottom border.

HERI (mounting) – this portion of a hanging scroll is often made of cloth. Materials that made up the heri is slightly of less quality than that of the ichimoji. Heri is used to frame the borders of a hanging scroll. The size of heri at the bottom part is twice the size of the upper border, while the upper heri measures twice the size of the lower heri.

All the elements above are essential in making a quality and authentic hanging scroll, and should be kept to honor the timeless tradition.


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