Jumaat, 2 Disember 2016

Kirikane, Japanese Fine Art Made of Gold

Kehalusan seni "Kirikane" diterapkan pada pinggan kaca ini.
Kirikane (截金), the Japanese art using thin sheet of gold pieces that are rarely heard. This art brought from outside of Alexandria is said to come as part of ancient Egypt around the 3rd century BC. But this art in Japan was brought from China as part of Buddhist art decorations for statues and paintings.

Maybe you have not heard about it because in Japan this art is re-introduced since Kirikane got less attention previously. Kirikane art is not easy to master by everyone because it is not only uses materials such as gold, silver and platinum, but the pieces of precious metals that are used are very thin and difficult to handle without skill and patience.

This art was brought to Japan from China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and examples can still be seen to this day such as Tamamushino Zushi at Horyuji Temple. This art is very popular around the 11th century up to 14. It was then almost disappeared due to the lack of decoration of Buddhist art in Japan.

Best applied Kirikane techniques.
Ball container with Kirikane.

Akane Yamamoto expressing Kirikane through art glass.
Today this art is given a new style, although some still retained its original art on a small scale. Through the efforts of activists of the new generation of Japanese art, Kirikane been used for larger media covers wider range of decorations. Among the famous Kirikane artists is Akane Yamamoto, one of successful artist who bring back Kirikane globally with "Kirikane Glass" she'd produced.

Although Akane using new media in the production of "Kirikane Glass" design, she still displays the characteristics of original Kirikane through traditional pieces of sheet metal that is used, it is the fine shapes of lines, diamonds, triangles, squares and geometric as on the classic Kirikane. Anyway, with the use of glass, Akane highlights this art through deeper dimension.

Beside her, the other artists are also using Kirikane according to their inclination for this art can be used with various media. Just Kirikane art has a distinctive shape that can be observed easily through the piece of sheet metal that it’s used.

The classical usage of Kirikane in Buddhist Art.
It can also be used on many other items.

Wooden box decorated with Kirikane.
This art needs to be done with high accuracy as the precious metal pieces used very thin. It requires very careful handling to ensure that the work done to produce a final result as desired.

  • Usually two types of metal sheets used in the decoration consist of gold, silver and platinum. These plates have to undergo a heating process (with its own technique) to attach to one another to increase thickness.
  • These pieces will be cut using a bamboo knife (metal blade cannot be used) over cutting board that covered with buckskin - to produce a good cutting.
  • It subsequently attached using adhesive (from seaweed, funori and ' hide glue ', Mikawa) on items to be decorated with Kirikane.


Looking at the results of the Kirikane, then you will definitely agree that it should be preserved as a legacy for the next generation. Although it is less known compared to other Japanese cultural arts, but it has a very high value in describing the cultural wealth of Japan and this telling us that every art in every culture too are just as precious as Kirikane and need to be preserved.

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