Chinkin - Ornamental Beauty Created by the Art of Carving

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Glossary of Chinkin Terms


Iro-urushi -- colored lacquer
Pigment is mixed into refined clear lacquer.
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Urushi -- lacquer
Urushi is sap collected from lacquer trees. The main ingredient is urushiol. When it dries, it becomes very durable. It is resistant to acid, alkali, salt and alcohol. It is highly waterproof and is also an antiseptic.
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Uwanuri -- final coating
The last stage in lacquer application. Very high quality lacquer is applied over the lacquerware several times. This is performed in a special dust-free room especially designed for this process.
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Uwanuri-urushi -- high quality lacquer for the final application
Lacquer is strained several times using hand-made Japanese paper to take out any impurities.
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Okime -- design tracing
The process of tracing a design drawn on paper onto the lacquerware. In Chinkin, the design is traced from the backside of the tracing paper using a brush with titanium dissolved in water. Then, the paper is placed, with the backside touching the surface of the lacquerware. The sketch is transferred to the surface by rubbing the paper lightly with a wooden spatula.
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Katagiri-nomi -- one sided chisel
One of the Chinkin chisels. Used for carving that gives a special effect.
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Kiurushi -- raw lacquer
Raw lacquer collected from lacquer trees is filtered to remove impurities like tree bark or dust.
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Kiji -- wooden base
This is the name given to the wooden base before lacquering. Roughly shaped wooden base carved out of the raw wood. It can roughly be classified into four types according to the shape of the products; Wan-kiji for bowl shaped wooden bases, Sashimono-kiji for square shaped containers, Wagemono-kiji for round shaped containers, and Ho-kiji for round shaped wooden bases. The craftsmen who make these wooden bases are divided into the same four categories.
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Kyushitsu -- lacquering
This refers to the whole process of applying lacquer onto the lacquerware from shaping the wooden base to the base coating, middle coating, final coating and finishing. It is the primary technique for all lacquer work. There are also different techniques for finishing lacquering; Kanshitsu, Mujinuri, Hananuri, Negoronuri and Akebononuri.
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Kin-ire -- gold inlaying
Gold powder is inlayed into the carved patterns.
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Kinpun & ginpun -- gold and silver powder or dust
Gold or silver powder or dust is sprinkled over the patterns for Chinkin or Makie ornamentation. There are various kinds, differentiated by the size type and shape of the particles.
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Kinpaku -- gold leaf
Gold ingot bar is beaten and flattened out evenly until it is 0.0001 to 0.0002 millimeters thin.
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A brush to remove any dust that has settled just after the middle application and before starting the final application.
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A design. Patterns and pictures for Makie and Chinkin work are first drawn on hand-made Japanese paper.
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The process of preparing the wooden base to make it sturdy. In Wajima-nuri, special methods are used such as Nunokise -- covering the thin and easy-to-break areas with cloth, and Jitsuke -- using lacquer mixed with baked and crushed diatomite and rice paste. This is one part of the important procedures necessary to make good lacquerware.
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Lacquered products. It is translated as "Japan" in English.
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The process of mixing together raw lacquer, Jinoko baked and crushed diatomite and rice paste. Applying the mix onto the material is called Jitsuke. The mix also contains stone powder of varying degrees of coarseness which is applied at difference stages from Ippenji the first application which uses the coarsest stone powder, to Nihenji the second, and Sanpenji the third and which uses the finest. This makes the surface of the work very sturdy and hard.
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Diatomite produced in Wajima is steam-baked and crushed into powder. The powder mixed with lacquer is used in the Shitaji stage to achieve sturdiness.
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Carving dots and lines into the wooden base according to the sketch traced onto it. The process before gold powder is inlayed.
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The name for Chinkin in China. It started during the Sung Dynasty (618 - 1279) and developed most during the early Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644).
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Wooden base before being coated with lacquer. There are different types of wooden bases by shape like bowls, Sashimono and Wagemono, as well as different production techniques like Rantai and Dakkanshitsu.
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One of the techniques of ornamental lacquerware. Designs are carved using a chisel, lacquer is applied thinly over the material, and gold leaf or powder is inlayed to bring out the designs. Silver powder and pigment are also used.
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Chisels made and used for Chinkin work.
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The motion of pushing a chisel away from you when carving.
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Whetstone for sharpening a Chinkin chisel. It is one of the most important tools for a Chinkin craftsman and any slight difference can be made to the edge of a chisel depending on how it is used.
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Charcoal used to smoothen the surface of lacquerware. As it is soft, it is well-suited to polishing a lacquered piece or a round surface.
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Master-apprentice training system. One works under a master for a designated number of years until he obtains sufficient skills.
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To apply mid-coating lacquer over the material using a mid-coating brush. It also refers to any process involved in the middle coating. In this process, any raised parts are sanded off, and any indented part is filled in with Sabi lacquer (raw lacquer mixed with polishing powder mixed with a little water), then the surface is polished until smooth using charcoal. After that, the surface is applied with mid-coating lacquer again and polished with charcoal. Then the entire surface is polished and wiped off with cotton cloth.
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Lacquer made and used for the middle coating. It is absorbed into and hardens the under-layers.
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(To) Reinforcing the thin and easy-to-break areas like the edges or base of soup bowls by covering them with cloth.
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The completion of the trainee's apprenticeship meaning that he has now become a proficient craftsman.
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In the craftsmen's world, it refers to working as an apprentice under the guidance of a master for a fixed period of time.
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To plate gold or silver leaf onto the carved patterns.
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(A) The motion of pulling a chisel towards you when carving lines.
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One of the Chinkin chisels. The edge of the chisel is straight.
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One of the lacquerware ornamentation techniques. After a carved pattern is traced with lacquer using a brush, gold or silver powder is sprinkled over it. There are various techniques in makie; Hira-makie, Togidashi-makie, Taka-makie and Hyomon.
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The polishing of the lacquered surface before ornamenting.
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One of the Chinkin chisels. Rounded-edge.
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One of the techniques to ornament lacquerware. The pearly part of abalone or goldlip shells is flattened using a whetstone, cut into small pieces to match the design, and inlayed into the carved wood or lacquered surface.
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To work for one's master for one year at a salary lower than the normal rate on completion of the apprenticeship in thanks for the training.
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It is a finishing process which produces a mirror-like glossy finish by polishing the surface with charcoal, then rubbing lacquer onto the surface several times after the final coating. It is a delicate process done with the craftsman's bare hands in order to avoid scratching the surface. In Wajima, Roiro is a specialized skill area done by Roiro craftsmen who are able to produce a variety of other finishing effects in addition to the highly polished gloss finish.
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Lacquerware produced in Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture. It is characterized by a sturdy base using jinoko diatomite as well as ornamentation with the Chinkin carving technique. It became widespread throughout Japan by being sold door-to-door by traveling salesmen. It developed mainly in the production of items for everyday use and even today retains its deep-rooted popularity.
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A brush used to apply the final layer of urushi.
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