What is Sendai ”tsuishu”?
”Tsuishu” is a form of Japanese lacquer craft, but it is different from the standard form where lacquer is painted and polished on wood. ”Tsuishu” is made by painting dozens to hundreds of layers of red lacquer, creating a base of multiple layers of lacquer, which is then carved and polished. In other words, it is a form of engraving the many many layers of lacquer. This technique called ”chousitu” came from China between the Kamakura period and Muromachi period.
However, Sendai ”tsuishu” is a little different from ”chousitu”. Sendai tsuishu is made by engraving the base wood then painting red lacquer over the engraving and polishing it. Painting lacquer on the engraved wood requires very delicate technique, especially when painting the very fine lines.
The things an ordinary craftsman wouldn’t do.
Minami is the only Sendai tsuishu remaining. He carries on the tradition but at the same time, he takes on new challenges and new designs, and he won the Good Design Award 2011.
As we were shown around the workshop, what impressed us was a vessel with a maple leaf tree engraving. It was a transparent vessel made from layers of lacquer, and the leaf looked as if it were floating.
Since we think of lacquer to be a hard material once it is dried, its beyond the imagination. ”Even among people who work with lacquer, this characteristic may not be known.” said Minami. Having an inquisitive mind is probably one of the factors adding a fresh twist to the tradition.
Polishing brings out the many colors
Sendai tsuishu is painting lacquer on a base that is intricately engraved, so it is very delicate work. It then has to be ground and polished. ”The polishing part is the hardest.” said Minami.
- Yugengaisha Sendai Tsuishu Workshop
- 1-6-21 Tsutsujigaoka, Miyagino-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi
- URL http://www.tsuishu.net/