AurieaHarvey About Context Contact Index Random
Trail: Nihonga

Nihonga

Outline of “Nihonga”-Traditional Japanese Painting
Nihonga is one of the painting styles of Japapn. Fumiyo Yoshikawa works in this painting style. The term coined during the Meiji period (1868-1911) which literally means gJapanese-style painting. Although some aspects of Western pictorial techniques may be employed, nihonga primarily takes its materials, methods and inspiration from traditional Japanese painting styles. The term nihonga is often used in contrast with youga, which refers to Western-style painting such as oil painting. In narrowest sense, nihonga particularly refers to polychrome paintings done with traditional dry pigments blended in a glue solution called nikawa although sumi-e (monochrome black ink painting) and ukiyo-e are sometimes regarded as nihonga in a broader use of the term.

Other historical Japanese painting styles:
kara-e:Japanese term for Chinese-style painting popular in Japan in the early historical periods. Its subject matter generally focused on Chinese narrative themes, rugged mountain landscapes and mythological creatures.

yamato-e:Japanese-style painting with a colorful and narrative style and a softer landscape than kara-e, first developed in the Heian period (794-1185) and an important element of imperial-court painting into the medieval period (1105-1573). Yamoto-e was a major influence on subsequent painting movements, especially nihonga.

youfu-ga(Western-style painting): Japanese painting in the Edo period (1615-1868) that was influenced by Western painting techniques, particularly in the use of perspective and shading to provide a sense of depth and volume.

you-ga(Western painting) Refers to Western styles of painting done by Japanese artists between 1868 and 1945 using Western perspective and chiaroscuro, and working in Western mediums, principally oil paints.

gendai kaiga(contemporary painting): Term for painting styles that have developed since 1945.

Nihonga materials and their preparation

Some basic materials used in nihonga:
sumi: Japanese India ink made of soot mixed with glue
iwa-enogu: Japanese dry pigments made of minerals such as cinnabar, malachite, azurite, lapis lazuli, etc
fude: brushes
washi, mashi, etc.: Japanese hand-made papers
nikawa:glue made from animal skin and bones

Sumi

Sumi is black ink made of soot obtained by burning aged pine trees or vegetable oil. Sumi made from pine trees is called shouen-boku and has a blue-black color, while the brown-black sumi made from oil is called yuen-boku. In olden times sumi was made into soft dumplings of soot, later, it was replaced by ink sticks solidified by mixing with nikawa. The quality of ink is affected both by the material used and the way it is burned, which affects the fineness or roughness of the carbon particles.

Suzuri is an instrument for making sumi ink. In ancient times ink used to be made by dissolving an ink ball with nikawa or lacquer in a pottery fragment. After sumi sticks started to be used, stones of smooth texture came into use as ink slabs. There are ink slabs made of other materials such as metal, pottery and fired clay. Like Sumi, Suzuri originated in ancient China. In Japan, ceramic suzuri was seen in Kofun-era (3rdC-7th C) and stone suzuri started to be seen in the 11th Century.The surface of the stone should be smooth, otherwise the pigment particles from the sumi-stick will not dissolve properly, and the ink loses its brilliance.

Pigments
Iwa-enogu are dry pigments made of minerals such as cinnabar, malachite, azurite, lapis lazuli, etc. These are bound together with nikawa and applied on Japanese paper or cloth such as silk. Even today, iwa-enogu and nikawa are mixed each time by hand, because making fine and deep tones requires many layers of pigments with different densities of nikawa, and the proportion of pigments and nikawa also has to be changed appropriately for each layer. These proportions and densities are important factors in finishing a fine painting.

Each color of iwa-enogu is sorted into fourteen grades by its size, No. 1 being the largest. No. 13 is the second smallest. The smallest size is called byaku. The smallest grain looke like flour dust in comparison to grains of No.1, which look like sand. The darkness of the color changes with the grade. For example, No. 1 of gunjo, a blue color made of azurite, looks like marine blue, while the byaku of the same color looks like sky blue.

Doro-enogu: pigments made of refined clay or sand, such as oudo (yellow ocher).

Suihi-enogu: pigments made of plants or insects. Ai (Japan blue) is made from the indigo plant. Beni, a red color, is made from the safflower(Carthamus tinctorius), while enji, another red color, is made of an insect called kaigaramushi (Coccoidea).

Gofun: white pigments made of oyster shells.

The four types of colors above are dry pigments. They need to be bound with glue to paint. The following types of colors can be used by adding water just like watercolors:
Gansai:colors of suihi-enogu premixed with Arabic gum.
Bou-enogu:colors of suihi-enogu premixed with beeswax.

Fude(Brushes)

Most Japanese traditional brushes have bamboo handles and bristles made of the hair of animals such as sheep, goat, raccoon, deer, weasel, or horse,etc. There are many types of brushes for various usages:

Tsuketate-fude: for sumi-e and calligraphy as well as coloring and drawing for nihonga- painting. It is an excellent brush with pliable and elastic bristle that can hold much water and can draw various shapes in one stroke.

Mensou-fude: for drawing fine and stable lines as well as coloring small details. Mensou-fude means “face brush”; it is often used for drawing hair and parts of the face.

Sakuyou-fude: good for drawing fine and stable lines.
Kumadori-fude: good for making bokashi (gradation)
Hira-fude (flat brush) : good for coloring large areas.
Saishiki-fude: good for coloring rather than drawing lines.

Renpitsu: multiple brushes with one stem used to apply colors evenly over a large area.

Hake( Flat brush with a flat wooden stem)

Mizu-bake is for applying water on paper or silk (for mizubari, or stretching).
E-bake is for applying colors.
Dosa-bake is applying dosa (sizing liquid) water.
Tataki-bake is for beating paper during urauchi to make the glue between the paper and a mounting panel even and stick them firmly.

Papers

Paper was adopted from China along with Buddhism in the 5th and 6th centuries. The papermaking technique was introduced in 7th century through Korea. As time passed, Japan modified the technique and started to make tougher paper than the Chinese paper.

Washi is Japanese hand made paper. The main ingredient is tree bark fiber. Washi literally means Japanese paper. Before the Meiji era (1864-1912), it was just called kami, which means paper. It is said that traditional kami or washi is so strong that it lasts more than a thousand years. It is used for not only calligraphy and paintings but also for various everyday goods like crafts, toys, umbrellas, clothes, bedclothes, and some parts of houses such as shoji (sliding paper screen or door) and fusuma (a framed and papered sliding door used as a room partition).
Mashi is one of the most popular washi, papers for nihonga artists. It was also the oldest paper created in China. It used to be made of hemp, ramie, and old hemp clothes. Since it was difficult to make and to use, it was later replaced by paper called kazikami(or kokushi) made of fiber from the kozo tree (paper mulberry). Nowadays, kazikami (kozo paper) is incorrectly called mashi, which literally means ghemp paperh, even though mashi is no longer made of hemp.

Torinoko-paper is a thick type of Hishi-paper made of gampi (thymelaeaceae) and kozo. It is sometimes called “King of paper” because of its fine, smooth surface. It is also a popular paper for nihoga artists.

Minogami is kozo paper made in the Mino (Gifu) region. It is good for wooden prints and for mounting paintings. Since it was cheaper than other types of paper, it was also used for shoji, lanterns, and other disposable items.( It was later replaced by machine made paper for the disposal use.)

Nikawa
Nikawa is a type of glue made of animal or fish gelatin. In nihonga, nikawa made of cow skin is generally used to mix with dry pigments. It is preserved as a solid but used as a liquid boiled in hot water. The ceramic pan and pot used for boiling nikawa water are called nikawanabe and yukihira. There are several types of nikawa for nihonga such as sanzenbon-nikawa, tsubu-nikawa, and shika-nikawa.

Sanzenbon-nikawa is the oldest type of nikawa. Because it is not refined very much it gives unique tones to the colors and flexibility to the paintings. But it spoils easily and doesn’t last for more than two days once it is boiled to make it a liquid.

Shika-nikawa and tsubu-nikawa are much better purified and have some preservatives. They have stronger adhesive power and last longer than sanzenbon-nikawa. However, because of the purity, they shrink much more than sanzenbon when they dry and there is a greater possibility of damaging the paintings in which they are applied. Thus, some nihonga-artists mix different types of nikawa depending on their needs.

Haku (metallic leaf)

Kinpaku: gold leaf, a sheet of gold beaten with a wooden mallet into a paper-thin leaf. It has been used for surface decoration on Buddhist images since ancient times, and for wall and screen paintings. It is still used in nihonga, and is very effective in creating decorative effects.

Ginpaku: silver leaf.

Hakuoshi: To stick haku, which is too thin to be handled on its own, onto a support such as oil paper, silk, or a wooden board using nikawa glue. An oil paper used for this purpose is called akashi-gami.

Sunago: gold dust made of haku using a bamboo strainer and a hard brush or the technique to make the gold dust.

Kirihaku: cut small square or rectanglar pieces of haku or the technique to make the pieces.

Other Materials and Terms

Dousa: a solution of nikawa water and myoban that prevents ink from running or absorbing too much on paper.
(Myoban is a type of potash alum (ALKiSO4j2E12H2O), a colorless astringent compound which is a hydrated double sulphate of aluminum and potassium, also used in solution in dyeing and tanning.)
Mizu-bari: the stretching of paper or silk on a panel or frame to keep it flat enough to paint. Because water is applied on all over the surface to stretch the paper or silk, it is called mizu(water) bari(stretching).

Urauchi: to apply thin paper to the backside of a painting to strengthen the painting. Mino-paper, which is cheaper than mashi, is often used for this purpose.

Nori is glue made of wheat or rice starch. For urauchi and mizubari, wheat glue is used.

Kakishibu is the fermented juice of persimmon fruits which is used as a preservative or resist. Very young and astringent persimmons are needed. In ancient times, it was painted on mummies to protect them from decay. Later, it was used for gin nets, wooden building materials and crafts to strengthen and protect them. In nihonga, kakishibu is applied to the karibari, a temporary stretching panel used if the painting is to be finished as a scroll. A karibari panel treated with kakishibu is waterproof and helps the paper easily be removed once the painting is completed.

Soukou is the name of the draft of the outline for a painting. Nihonga is not easy to modify once it is started because of nature of its colors. Therefore a full size draft is made to be transferred onto the paper or another surface prior to the actual painting.

Kotsutagi is the outline of a painting drawn with sumi-ink following the lines transferred from the soukou.

Tessenbyou is a quality of lines in which one tries to draw all the lines in the same thickness. Tessenbyou is generally used for the kotusgaki .

Glossary of Japanese terms in alphabetical order

ai: “Japanese bluecolor
beni: a red pigment made from the safflower
bouenogu:colors of suihienogu premixed with beeswax.
byaku: the name for the finest grade of iwa-enogu dry pigments
doroenogu: pigment made of refined clay or sand
dosa-bake: brush for applying dosa (sizing liquid) water.
dousa (or dosa):asolution of nikawa water andpotash alumthat prevents ink from running or absorbing too much on paper.
e-bake: brush for applying colors.
enji:red pigment made from an insect called kaigaramushi
fude: brush
funori: glue made of wheat starch
fusuma:a framed and papered sliding door used as a room partition.
gansai:colors of suihienogu premixed with Arabic gum.
gendai kaiga: contemporary painting, post-1945
ginpaku:silver leaf.
gofun: a white pigment made of oystersf shells.
gunjo: a blue pigment made of azurite
hake: a flat brush with a flat wooden stem.
haku: metallic leaf
hakuakashi: to apply oil paper backside of haku (metallic leaf)
hakuoshi: to glue haku? onto a support such as oil paper, silk, or a wooden board
hira-fude (gflat brushh): brush good for coloring large areas.
iwa-enogu: Japanese dry pigments made from natural materials such as minerals
kaigaramushi: cochineal; an insect used to made a red pigment
kakishibu: fermented persimmon juice
kami: paper
kara-e: Chinese-style painting
kazikami: paper made from the fiber of the kozo (mulberry) tree
kinpaku:gold leaf
kirihaku: a cut small square piece of haku.
kokushi:alternate name for kazikami, or mulberry-fiber paper
kotsutagi: the outline of a painting drawn with sumi-ink following the lines transferred from the soukou.
kozo: paper mulberry tree
kumadori-fude: brush good for doing bokashi (gradation)
mashi: literally ghemp paperh, now used to refer to kazikami (mulberry paper) as well
mensou-fude (gface brushh): brush for drawing fine lines and for coloring small details.
minogami: a cheaper kozo paper made in the Mino (Gifu) region.
mizu-bake: brush used to apply water on paper or silk (for mizubari, or stretching).
mizu-bari: the stretching of paper or silk on a panel or frame to keep it flat for painting
nihonga: Japanese-style painting
nikawa:a glue made from animal skin and bones
nikawanabe: ceramic pan used for boiling nikawa water
nori: glue made of wheat or rice starch
oudo: yellow ocher
renpitsu: multiple brushes with one stem used to apply colors evenly over a large area.?
saishiki-fude: brush good for coloring rather than drawing lines.
sakuyou-fude: brushfor drawing fine and stable lines.
sanzenbon-nikawa: the oldest type of nikawa (glue)
shika-nikawa: a type of nikawa (glue)
shoji: sliding paper screen or door
shouen-boku: sumi ink made from burnt pine
soukou: the draft of the outline for a painting.
suihienogu: dry pigments made of plants or insects
sumi: Japanese India ink made of soot mixed with glue
sunago:gold dust made of haku using a bamboo strainer and a hard brush.
suzuri: ink slab used for preparing sumi ink
tataki-bake: brush usedfor beating paper during urauchi to make the glue between the painting and a mounting paper even and stick those papers firmly.
tessenbyou is a quality of lines in which one tries to draw all the lines in the same thickness.
torinoko-paper: a thick, smooth type of papermade of gampi fiber and kozo.
tsubu-nikawa: a type of nikawa (glue)
tsuketate-fude: multipurpose brush for sumi-e and calligraphy as well as coloring and drawing for nihonga.
urauchi: to apply thin paper to the backside of a painting to strengthen the painting.
washi: Japanese hand-made paper
yamoto-e: Japanese-style painting in the Heian and medieval periods
youfuga: Western-influenced Japanese painting in the Edo period
youga: Western-style painting, especially oil painting, done in Japan in period 1868-1945
yuen-boku:sumi ink made from burnt vegetable oil
yukihira: ceramic pot used for boiling nikawa water

The outline and the glossary were writen by Fumiyo Yoshikawa and edited by Donna Fenton, the staff of San Francisco Asian Art Museum . It was for Yoshikawa’s “Nihonga demonstration” held by the museum from March 9th through 15th of 2008.

Reference and for further information

“A Dictionary of Japanese Art Terms, Bilingual Ed “ by Editing comittee for A Dictionary of Japanese Art Terms, Tokyo Bijutsu, 1990 )

History of Japanese Art “ by Penelope Mason, 2005 (2nd Ed.)

Nihonga no hyougen gihou” by Koichi Isiodori and Saburo Takagi , BIjutsu Shuppan, 1978

“Ninki sakka ni manabu nihonga no gihou_Gazai to Gihou” (Japanese painting method and material by nihonga masters) by Isao Hayashi, Mutsumasa Hakozaki,Rinmei Kawakita, Douhou-sha, 1998

“Enogu no Kagaku “ by Holbein Tchnology Department , Chuoukouron Bijutsu Shuppan, 1990

“Enoguzairyou Handbook” by Holbein Tchnology Department , Chuoukouron Bijutsu Shuppan, 1997

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihonga

http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~yv9k-hsmt/nihongaj.htm (Japanese Site )

http://allabout.co.jp/interest/japanesepaint/ (Japanese Site )

http://www.fumiyo-y.com/nokoto.html (Japanese Site )
(Inside of this web site)

●About Sumie (Ink and Wash Painting)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumie

●Kanji (Japanese ideograms or hieroglyphics) and Kana (Japanese phonograms)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_character

http://www.fumiyo-y.com/statementantiguasoloshow.html  (Inside of this web site. See the bolded part)

●About Japanese Paper

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washi