Chinkin - Ornamental Beauty Created by the Art of Carving

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The History of Chinkin

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Chinkin has a long history, and originated in China.
Chinkin is called "Sokin" in China. It is said that it was begun during the Sung Dynasty (618 - 1279), and developed most significantly at the beginning Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). Sokin work came to Japan during the early Muromachi Era (1336 - 1573). Soon, the sokin technique was copied to make Japan's own products. This is how Chinkin began in Japan.

Chinkin was brought to Wajima for the first time during the Kyoho Period (1716 - 1735) of the Edo Era. A carpenter in Wajima called Gorobei made some carving on the lacquerware after seeing Sokin work brought from China. This is said to be the beginning of Chinkin work in Wajima. One document says that during the Meiwa Period (1764 - 1771) of the Edo Era, Kasaya Sajiemon sent Tachi Junsuke (later named Sensuke, whose pen name was Gasui) to Kyoto, and had him learn painting and Chinkin techniques. Later, Tachi Junsuke returned to Wajima and established the foundation of Wajima Chinkin seen today.

As the sturdy Wajima-nuri lacquer work was well-suited to Chinkin work, and could be done more cheaply than Makie, Chinkin soon took root and developed rapidly in Wajima. From the Meiji to Taisho Eras, Wajima produced great Chinkin artists like Hashimoto Sesshu and Funakake Sojiro, contributing to the unique development of Wajima Chinkin. But among all, the most notable Chinkin artist was Mae Taiho. He raised the level of Chinkin to an art-form. Chinkin carving was made mainly in lines until Mae Taiho created a three-dimensional appearance and textured quality using a dot engraving method. This brought about a revolution in conventional Chinkin techniques. The Chinkin artists and craftsmen that followed Mae Taiho developed the potential for expression with Chinkin to the level that it has reached today.