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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.
In the second feature in our mini-series on Stonehenge, Roy Goutté asks… Is the blatant over-publicising of anything remotely connected to Stonehenge justified, or making archaeologists look foolish?
Stonehenge as it appears today
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 29,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Today marks our fourth anniversary. During that time we’ve posted 851 features, attracted 106,656 views and now have 329 followers. So a very big thank you to all who have contributed articles and photos to The Heritage Trust, commented on them, or just read them and hit the ‘like’ button. It’s all very much appreciated.
That’s on the positive side. Sadly, on the negative side, we’ve had to report on the appalling destruction by Daesh vandals of ancient sites and artefacts in the Syrian city of Palmyra, and the senseless beheading of the 82 year-old archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad in the same city. Though nowhere near that level of violence we, and some of our founder members, have been attacked and lampooned on the internet for voicing what we hope is a more balanced view on the subject of metal detecting. Needless to say those attacks will not deter us from discussing the subject of metal detecting in a moderate and informed manner, nor from reporting on heritage vandalism wherever and however it takes place.
The Heritage Trust Team.
Image credit The Times
We don’t often get involved with British political issues but when they sink to this level of gimmickry it really has hit rock bottom (pun intended) and something needs to be said. We refer to the Labour Party’s latest publicity stunt to win votes (election day in Britain is today) in the shape of an eight foot tall ‘megalith’ with six ‘promises’ from their party’s manifesto ‘engraved’ on its surface. Is the text actually engraved or has it been painted on? Or is it a transfer of some kind? If Labour wins the election however its leader Ed Miliband plans to erect the megalith in the garden of 10 Downing Street (assuming he’s able to get planning permission from Westminster City Council that is!).
The Urban Prehistorian sums up our own feelings on the Ed’stone gimmick perfectly when it writes –
Are we fooled by these megalithic metaphors of power and permanence? Do we accept that when a pledge is carved into rock by machine or chisel that it has more resonance and reliability than a promise spoken, a paper manifesto, a ministerial tweet? Would this infamous pre-referendum promise, printed in newspaper form just before the independence referendum in Scotland in September 2014, have really been any more trustworthy or powerful had it been carved on a tablet of stone?
No we are not fooled. Miliband’s promises are all very well and good but where is HERITAGE in all of this? In fact where is Heritage in any of the five or six main political party’s pledges? As a country we have not even ratified the Hague Convention to protect cultural property in time of war. Shame on our politicians for not doing so, and shame on the megalithic gimmickry this election campaign has sunk to.
The Standing Stones of Stenness by Godfrey Higgins. Circa 1829
Orkneyjar is a privately-run, non-profit website, created and maintained by Sigurd Towrie. It is not affiliated in any way to official Orkney bodies, such as the Orkney Tourist Board or Orkney Islands Council. The Orkneyjar website began in 1997, initially as an experiment in HTML and to provide a platform to “publish” the numerous articles on Orcadian history and heritage I had written over the years. From its humble beginnings, the site has grown steadily and now attracts thousands of visitors each month. Hopefully Orkneyjar will continue to grow over the years, as I find the time to re-evaluate existing material and add more content. The website is generally updated at least one a month, but again this is dependent on time.