Collaboration Between Humans and Nature ”Mokuga, Kyokusai Sakamoto”

Collaboration Between Humans and Nature
”Mokuga, Kyokusai Sakamoto”

Culture from the Silk Road

Perhaps many are not familiar with the word ”Mokuga” or wooden pictures. You may not be able to imagine specifically what it means; is it drawing on wood or drawing with wood? You may not be able to imagine a specific art either. ”Mokuga” pictures are assembled pieces of wood, the design laid out in accordance to the texture and patterns of the wood to create unique designs on boxes and furniture. Besides pieces of wood, ivory and deer horns are used to create geometric patterns, etc.
It is said that the technique came by way of the Silk Road from China, and the roots come from ancient Egypt.
It was an art that was popular especially in the Tenpyo culture during the Nara period, and a precious work of art called ”Shitanmokuga Sugorokukyoku” is stored as one of the many collection of treasures at Shosoin. Once you set your eyes on the beauty of the actual art, you may even doubt that it is made of wood.

Treasured techniques from Shosoin period

”Designs of the Tenpyo period seem new to us in the present,” commented Kyokusai Sakamoto. He is a craftsman that works on the restoration of precious treasures from Shosoin. It does not look purely of Japanese origin, and seems somewhat exotic.
”I want more people to know this traditional art, ”mokuga”.” And that is why Sakamoto holds monthly events to talk about his work.
This traditional art that was created in collaboration with nature has always offered new concepts. You can sense the collaboration between man and nature in this long lasting art, handed down from 1500 years ago.


Mokuga Workshop
Nara-shi Nara