- Not carving, but extracting the image residing in the wood.
- Dragons launch themselves skyward and lions are full of movement. Japanese wood sculpture features rich expressions and precise carving and, down through the ages, its exponents have produced major historical art works such as the World Heritage Site Yomei-mon Gate of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine and others. While traditional Butsuzo (image of Buddha) sculptors use knives and chisels, Edo Moku-Chokoku (wood sculpture) craftsmen do not use any kind of knife. This is because their roots are in the carpentry trade. Edo Moku-Chokoku techniques had their origins in architectural embellishments on pillars and Ranma (an openwork screen above the sliding partitions between two rooms) for shrines and temples and subsequently developed and were polished through the creation of decorative sculptures on Dashi (floats) and Mikoshi (portable shrines) for festivals. A craftsman chooses a few hundred chisels, according to the application, with which to depict, three dimensionally, tree branches and twigs at the back, birds in front, and intersections of character images. In Edo Moku-Chokoku, craftsmen regard filing work as amateurish and they use chisel cutting to bring out the sheen of wooden materials. The craftsmen place importance on elegant finishing rather than fine workmanship: e.g. sharpening dragons’ noses and paying attention to eyes and mouths for human figures. These wood sculptures, chiseled out of robust timber will endure for even 100 to 200 years and they evoke a solemnity that naturally invites adoration from viewers.
- Edo Wood Carving /Japan Wood Carving Federation
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