Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Kakejiku - Hanging Scrolls

I am a big fan of the Japanese Hanging Scroll.  I have a collection of about 20, which I added to this morning.  

I buy most of my scrolls from the same person, Kazumasa Yamamoto.  He is in Japan, and has an e-bay store.  I like to buy from him because his scrolls are always described fully and honestly, and his prices are quite reasonable.   Here are some images of them:

This is a depiction of some sparrows and a peony.  The peony is protected from frost and snow by a spray of straw, which is frozen.  

The scroll seems in excellent condition, and the birds are charming.

Details can be seen below:

The second scroll depicts a Tanuki, or Raccoon Dog. I already have one similar to this.  In fact the technique is so similar, I would not be surprised if they were done by the same artist.  

OK.  I checked.  The signatures and cartouche, or seal, are the same!

As you can see below, the animal's fur is beautifully rendered.  I will include a couple of pictures of the other tanuki scroll farther down - after a detail of this one.

Here is the other tanuki scroll:

This fellow really knows his subject. The animal's fur - up in points from the dew-fall, is extremely lifelike in both pose and form.  

This scroll has given me great pleasure.  At night the pale blue eyes positively glow, like a radioluminescent clock-dial.  

 Here is more general information about hanging scrolls, which you may find useful.

From: Wikikpedia

A kakemono (掛物, "hanging thing"), more commonly referred to as a kakejiku (掛軸, "hung scroll"), is a Japanese scroll painting or calligraphy mounted usually with silk fabric edges on a flexible backing, so that it can be rolled for storage.

The "Maruhyōsō" style of kakejiku has four distinct named sections. The top section is called the "ten" heaven. The bottom is the "chi" earth with the "hashira" pillars supporting the heaven and earth on the sides. The maruhyōsō style, also contains a section of "ichimonji" made from "kinran" gold thread. On observation, the Ten is longer than the Chi. This is because in the past, Kakemono were viewed from a kneeling (seiza) position and provided perspective to the "Honshi" main work. This tradition carries on to modern times. 

There is a cylindrical rod called jikugi (軸木) at the bottom, which becomes the axis or center of the rolled scroll. The end knobs on this rod are in themselves called jiku, and are used as grasps when rolling and unrolling the scroll. 

Other parts of the scroll include the "jikubo" referenced above as the jikugi. The top half moon shaped wood rod is named the "hassō" to which the "kan" or metal loops are inserted in order to tie the "kakehimo" hanging thread. Attached to the jikubo are the "jikusaki", the term used for the end knobs, which can be inexpensive and made of plastic or relatively decorative pieces made of ceramic or lacquered wood. Additional decorative wood or ceramic pieces are called "fuchin" and come with multicolored tassels. The variation in the kakehimo, jikusaki and fuchin make each scroll more original and unique.

Traditional paintings from Japan consist of ink, color, ground pigments, and/or gold applied in thin layers on a paper or silk support. They are most commonly presented in the form of scrolls and screens. Though beautifully designed and aesthetically appealing in themselves, the screens and scroll supports are also intended to serve the function of protecting the pictorial imagery or calligraphy.

Scroll diagram 1

In caring for Asian scrolls and screens, it is important to be familiar with their materials and manner of construction. Scrolls are complex objects that consist of multiple layers of paper and silk. They may be configured in a vertical hanging format or as a hand scroll that is viewed horizontally. The top and bottom of a hanging scroll include wooden bars covered in silk. The top bar is known as the stave; the bottom bar is the dowel.

Typically on a hanging scroll, knobs or jiku, are attached to either end of the bottom dowel. Jiku may be lacquered or carved wood, bone, ivory, or other special materials. Hanging and tying cords of woven silk are attached to the top stave with metal fasteners. Hand scrolls also have wooden dowels at either end and characteristically do not have knobs. Some Japanese hanging scrolls have two paper and silk strips called futai that are attached to the top stave.

Scroll diagram 2, with futai

Screens, like the one in the image at the top of the post, consist of individual panels that are joined together using intricately arranged paper hinges. The sturdy paper hinges allow the panels to fold onto each other in an accordion-like manner. The individual panels consist of numerous layers of paper and silk specifically configured over a sturdy, wooden lattice structure. Lacquered wood sections along with metal decorative elements frame the perimeter of the folding screen panels.

Scrolls and screens are susceptible to damage as a result of environmental factors, both on display and in storage. Stable temperature and relative humidity are important to prevent a range of damages. The recommended range for relative humidity is between 40-50 percent. The effects of light are cumulative and irreversible and cannot be overemphasized. Prolonged exposure to light, direct or in-direct, can cause media and silk to fade and paper to darken. Ultraviolet filtering glazing and film do eliminate harmful UV radiation, however, light from the visible range is also damaging.


I always wondered what those little strips hanging from the top of some scrolls was called.  They are futai (or Fuutai) and I did find out a good deal about them, but not what their purpose or significance is.

aisf.or.jp has this to say:

“A term used for one of the parts of the mounting of a hanging scroll *kakemono 掛物. The fuutai usually consists of two long narrow strips of cloth sewn to the upper crosspiece *hassou 発装, of the mounting and hung down. Their lengths match the height of the upper portion of the mounting, the tenchi 天地 or *jouge 上下. By their positioning they divide the tenchi vertically into three equal sections. Their width generally will be the same as that of the lower fabric strip *ichimonji 一文字, or perhaps a little wider. Fuutai are generally in pairs, but in the case of narrow mountings, such as the hashirakakushi 柱隠, only one fuutai is used. Formal fuutai are called sagefuutai 垂風帯 or ichimonji fuutai 一文字風帯 because the same high quality cloth is used for both the fuutai and the ichimonji portions of the mounting. They are called chuuberi fuutai 中縁風帯 or chuufuutai 中風帯 if they employ the same cloth used for the central border fabric *chuuberi 中縁. In this case the cloth used is generally not as fine quality as that used for the ichimonji. When the fuutai do not hang loose, and are instead attached to the mounting, they are called oshifuutai 押風帯. The oshifuutai is used in what is called the sou , or informal style of mounting. In this case, the cloth used is the same quality as that used for the chuuberi. The name chuufuutai is also used. A chuufuutai is considered more mundane and is used in typical mountings. In cases where a refined sense is sought in a paper mounting, a white oshifuutai is used. Attached to the right and left sides of the lower end of each sagefuutai are cotton or silk threads in the form of small tassels or tufts called tsuyu . They re attached from 4.5mm to 6mm above the lower edge of the fuutai and extend to below the edge. In the time of Sen Rikyuu 千利休 (1522-91), these were called tsuyu in general, but more specific designations also came to be used. The small bunches of thread can also be called tsuyu if referring to white threads, hana , when the tufts consist of colored thread, and mizu when asagi 浅葱 (*asagi-iro 浅葱色; a kind of light blue with a touch of green) is used. Today, the four colors primarily used for tsuyu are asaasagi 浅々葱 (a lighter asagi), moegi 萌黄 (*moegi-iro 萌黄色; a light yellow-green; a color halfway between blue and yellow), purple/violet and white. Formerly red and koiasagi 濃浅葱 (a darker version of asagi) appear to have also been used. The tone of the tsuyu should harmonize with the style of the painting or calligraphy as well as the cloth used in the mounting. White is most commonly used. The shapes the tsuyu vary: straight; fan-shaped; and round.”

Quite comprehensive as to appearance, but why are they there?  In an article about (Chinese?) scrolls, it said, “(Two decorative strips, called jingyan (惊燕; literally "frighten swallows"), are sometimes attached to the top of the scroll.”  The associated diagram indicated what I have come to understand are called futai.

Other sources alluded vaguely to religious associations. 

And then there was this – in French – very tantalizing, as it was accompanied by photos of futai being folded, but my translator, alas, wasn’t up to an html translation.  It said, “Si votre rouleau est muni de Futai, bandelettes destinées à faire fuir oiseaux et insectes en frappant le support au moindre coup de vent, il faut les replier. C'est assez facile, l'un passe sous l'autre, juste sous le Kan, la baguette supérieure sur laquelle sont fixés les Futai, et le Takuboku, le ruban de fixation, qui est formé du Kakeo (le ruban directement attaché au Kan) et du Makio (le ruban pendant attaché au Kakeo).”

I got the words for birds and bugs.  Are these supposed to be repelled by the futai?

I don't know.  I give up.  For now...
This guy got away - I couldn't afford him.  But my last purchase from Yamamoto-san is quietly gracing my living-room wall. 

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