Ref. Number: 497

Country: Japan

Japanese scroll

Japanese scroll

The Kakemono, or hanging scroll, more commonly referred to as a kakejiku, hung scroll, consists of a painting or a piece of calligraphy executed on paper or silk mounted on a paper backing (hyosou) strong enough to support the weight of the artwork (honshi) yet flexible enough to be rolled for storage. To prepare the artwork for display, it is set into a frame of figured silk or brocade (heri). Above and below this rectangle, different pieces of silk are attached. The lower edge of the whole is provided with a round dowel (jiku) around which the scroll can be rolled; at the top there is a much lighter wooden slat (hyoumoku) from which the painting is suspended when exhibited. Traditional Japanese mountings have futai, two narrow bands of silk that hang from the top of the scroll when it is diplayed. Mountings for Chinese-style paintings do not use futai.

Detail of scroll

Detail of scroll

Under the influence of Zen Buddhism were usually suibokuga or paintings executed in black ink, called sumi. Thais type of ink is made by collecting the soot from burning pine twigs and after the addition of resin forming it into a long, flat-sided inkstick. To produce the ink, the stick is dipped in a little water in the well of the flat inkstone and then rubbed on the adjacent slope of the stone. The process is repeated until the desired ration of pigment to water has been achieved.

Calligraphy

Calligraphy

The kakemono format first appeared in the Heian period in conjunction with Buddhist painting but came into its own in the early feudal period in association with Zen imagery and the practice of the tea ceremony. When displayed in a chashitsu (teahouse) for the tea ceremony, the choice of the kakemono (hanging object) and its complementary flower arrangement help set the spiritual mood of the ceremony. Scrolls were displayed in a special alcove called tokonoma, found in rooms with tatami flooring.

The Taishō period (大正時代, 1912 – 1926) were the last years when traditional Japanese hanging scrolls enjoyed popularity. After Wold War II, together with growing appreciation of Western fashion and life style, as well as the industrialization and rapid development of Japan, the understanding of true Japanese aesthetics has declined dramatically.

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