Home & Design

Apr 1, 2017

YOSEGI-ZAIKU - YOSEGI ART

We discovered the Yosegi art, beautiful and curious, this Japanese technique of "parquet" consists of laying the wood on the floor, forming patterns. To achieve this, pieces of wood of different colours are glued together in a compact block, which is then "sliced" into thin sheets of wood patterns. There are also objects such as jewellery and decorations made from the same technique.

It is more precisely designated by Yosegi-zaiku - the Japanese millenary art of combining pieces of wood to form objects and works of art from various techniques used in the mosaics that are applied to the floors of houses or other places, such as offices. The work base of the inlay art, in this case, is based on the valorisation of the natural colours of each wood and the combination of them.

Kiyotaka Tsuyuki, a fourth-generation Japanese craftsman of Tsuyuki Mokkousho, a workshop specialised in the art of inlay, located in the city of Odawara, Japan, joined a project called "Zoukibayashi", created for spreading Yosegi art and prevent this millennial Japanese tradition from getting lost over the years.

It should be noted that this technique, seen also as an art, was born during a very rich cultural epoch in Japan, the Tokugawa period, historically located between March 1603 and May 1868. The technique, however, dates from the Heian period (794 to 1185 a.C.), having passed from generation to generation. It was only in the year 1984 that the "Law of Promotion of the Traditional Craft Industry" (Densan'hô, in Japanese), recognised the inlay technique as Japan traditional handicraft.

As part of the dissemination project on this technique, Tsuyuki has traveled the world to give lectures on the beauty, history and tradition of the amazing constructions that result from the application of this method. One of these places where he was, is the Japan Foundation of São Paulo, Brazil, where he explained that despite being the only child, his father never forced him to follow in the family's footsteps. «Since I was little, I lived close by with the inlay technique, therefore, this was always part of my daily life, of what makes me feel good».

According with the craftsman, when he finished school, he did not know exactly what to do and, although he did not feel very skilful, he decided to go to an artisan school in Kyoto, Japan. «At the time, it was a technical school, but today, it is a college specialised in traditional Japanese arts. I was lucky enough to find good masters who could teach me a little of this art, so that I could try to get into the family business. In addition, I felt that, as an only child, if I didn´t give continuity to the family business, it would end», he concluded.

This was the first local school that had professional training for artisans. Until then, what happened to those who wanted to learn the technique and art was just by watching the most experienced craftsmen.

As an art that allows to realise coloured mosaics thanks to multiple natural woods, Yosegi-zaiku, depends a lot on the abundance and the diversity of wood. In this regard, in addition to Kyoto, there are two more Japanese cities known because of the Yosegi-zaiku production: Odawara and Hakone, located in Kanagawa province; precisely because of the diversity of woods found on the mount Hakone.

The craftsmen use abundantly, for example, Euonymus wood and Ilex macropoda. For the very dark wood, the Quassioides Picrasma and the mulberry tree. Already for patterns in shades of yellow, they use the camphor and Maackia amurensis, for brown. To get a purple colour, the artisans turn to the American black walnut tree. Blue is obtained thanks to the Japanese magnolia of big leaves and the red one with the mahogany wood of China. Any of these woods may or may not be varnished, depending on the work in question.

These woods, in addition to being used to construct the parquet "for common houses", are also used in the big star´s mansions that want more custom floors, or in offices, design and fashion studios, and even in stores. Jewellery, decorative pieces, lining boxes and even frames are crafted based on Yosegi-zaiku. If you like minimalistic spaces, with Japanese style, but also innovative, original and personalised, Yosegi may be the solution.

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