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Marking World Heritage Day today we are focusing on the ancient Japanese art of picture conservation and mounting known as Hyōgu.
1923 woodblock print after the earliest known image of a hyōgushi priest and his assistant Original by the 14th century Japanese painter Fujiwara Takakane
Private collection Great Britain
Hyōgu and the hyōgushi
The art of restoring and mounting works of art on paper and silk has been practiced in the Far East for nearly two millennia. Originating first in China at the beginning of the Christian era, conservation techniques and materials then spread to Japan where they developed into the refined art that we now know as Hyōgu.
The word Hyōgu means a picture or piece of calligraphy lined with paper and mounted as a hanging scroll. The words hyōgushi, hyōguya and kyōji refer to the mounter/conservators of Japan who not only repair and mount hanging scrolls but also conserve other forms of pictorial art such as the handscroll, screens, sliding doors, murals etc.
The hyōgushi of today is required to undergo a long and strict period of training. During this time he or she learns not only the skills which will enable him to conserve scrolls, screens etc, but also the knowledge and sensitivity required to present them in their correct context. He must know the appropriate style of mount used for any subject and be aware, for example, of the meanings associated with the patterned silks used with such mounts. He or she must also know how and where an object will be used as this will often dictate the materials and techniques employed in its conservation.
Like the Western bookbinder, the hyōgushi is responsible for objects which must be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The objects he is conserving are made to be opened and closed, rolled and unrolled and, apart from the demands of conservation and aesthetics, the hyōgushi must always bear in mind that they are to be constantly handled and not merely viewed.
Made of wood and measuring 96cm in length. Probably between 50 and a 100 years old
Private collection. Great Britain
An Egyptian craftsman weaving a mat on a floor loom
Mohamed Badry Kamel Basuny, writing for UNESCO, reports on the Intangible Heritage of Egyptian mat-making –
Mat, as a traditional craft, is considered a local craft dating back to ancient Egyptian era. The local people had been developed this innovative production “Mats” to face the common problem of humidity and insects. There are numerous models and forms to Egyptian mats, which are displayed in Torino Museum, Italy, that was used in ancient Egyptian rural community. This craft is needed a group of material and tools such as reeds and grasses especially el-Summar herbs (Juncus), and flax to weave strongly these reeds together. Unfortunately, the craft of mats doesn’t be well-known and popular like the old periods. Now, it is known in few Egyptian governorates such as el-Qaliubiya, el-Sharkeya, Kafr El-Sheikh, Qena, Assiut, el-Monoufia. (Egyptian Archives of Folk Life and Folk Traditions (EAFLFT), 2013).
Detail of an Egyptian floor loom
Full article here.
The British Museum has commissioned two replicas of the early 8th century Anglo-Saxon Franks Casket by sculptor Andrew Lilley. “One option presents the casket in similar colours to the whalebone we see today, while the other has been hand painted in colours that represent how experts believe it may have looked when made.”
The original is on display at the British Museum. The right-hand side of the casket is a replica; the original is in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, Italy.
More on the Franks Casket here.
Suffragette film producer Alison Owen surrounded by Law Scrolls in the Act Room of Victoria Tower, the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) London
Image credit Houses of Parliament/Jessica Taylor
The age-old tradition of recording and enshrining British law on vellum is to continue after almost coming to an end last week when the House of Lords decided to stop the enshrinement of British law on vellum for reasons of cost. Fortunately the British Cabinet Office has intervened and is to provide the necessary financing from its own budget for this thousand year-old tradition to continue.
Vellum is not a paper (which is generally made from vegetable fibres) but from carefully prepared calf-skin. Probably the most famous use of vellum in Britain are the several extant copies of the Magna Carta, drawn up some 800 years ago and sealed by King John, and the Lindisfarne Gospels. A more recent use of vellum was for the marriage certificate of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton in 2011.
Watch the preparation of vellum by Paul Wright, a parchmenter, here.
An elaborate Anglo-Saxon brooch that is more than 1,000 years old may be exported if a UK buyer is not found who will pay at least £8,000 for it. The gilt bronze brooch, from the late 8th century, is one of just 12 such ornaments in existence, and it stands out from the rest for the skill and creativity employed in the creation of its unique complex leaf pattern, which could represent the Christian tree of life.
An illustration dating from the same period of the Virgin Mary in the Book of Kells shows her wearing a similar brooch, suggesting they were worn by high-status women. Experts said the brooch is of outstanding significance for the study of Anglo-Saxon art and material culture, but it could be exported unless a UK buyer matches the £8,460 asking price.
Full article here.