It is thought that first hanging scrolls are invented in China for the Buddhist painting’s mounting style in the 3rd century, it is designed to be mobile, just to roll it up and put it in the box and carry it around, at the same time it is a carrier of of the Buddha image for worshipping, it has to be stable, strong and long lasting. Hanging scrolls are designed to be handy, mobile, flexible, stable, and long lasting. This mounting style was introduced to Japan in 6th century with the buddhist teachings. One of the first buddhist sutra came to Japan is still remaining with us today, has been surviving over one thousand and five hundred years, and it is still in good condition, so it will survive more with the right care.
Scrolls are made with very simple and natural ingredients which are sumi-ink, thin paper (made of fiber from plant’s skin) and cloth.
Hanging scrolls were made to mount Buddhist paintings, due to its characteristics, people started to enjoy mounting different subjects as well, including the sumi-ink paintings, zen words phrases, and so on. Kakejiku became one of the must to have item in the tea ceremonies, often carries a zen related phrases. This custom has strong influence on our image of today’s typical Japanese Hanging Scroll, decolated in the wall of alcove in the Japanese style living room. As our life style changes Kakejiku style has evolved, Kakejiku are now enjoyed in the Western designed space as well.Also, we see more and more Foreigners enjoying Kakejiku. Our mounting studio daily conducts various type of mountings every day, and we’d like to introduce some of the Zen wisdom words scrolls, sumi-ink painting and paintings on the silver ground.
How you enjoy the hanging scroll pieces.
Where would you place the hanging scrolls, and when to enjoy them?
Originally, Buddhist paintings scrolls are created to be carried and hanged anywhere it suites for worshipping, so it did not have specific place to be hanged at. The typical image of Hanging scroll in the “Tokonoma”, alcove in the Japanese style living room came the tea ceremony, but not only in the Japanese tatami rooms, scrolls are enjoyed in the modern type wall as well, they give very different atmosphere to the room different from the panel or framed paintings. Scrolls does not choose a place to be displayed, you will be surprised to see hanging abstract theme scrolls in the western walls, it is one of our favorite combination to enjoy.
Japan is a country which has four seasons, and each seasons we have many things to cerebrate. In the new years, it is early spring, and plum trees blossom is something we cherish, in this time we enjoy with the spring theme hanging scroll. In the Autumn, moon viewing is one of the seasonal custom to appreciate the harvest of the grains. From Full Moon by Shiro Tsujimura, in spite of his wild touch, we can feel the very calm moon looking over us in between the sea of night’s thin clouds.
the authentic materials of Japanese Hanging scrolls are made with natural ingredients, and it adapts the seasons changing humidity and temperature by slightly shrink or expands, it breeze the air, and adjust to the seasons, this flexibility is the key for long life. Traditional Japanese mountings are performed in the way to even out the pressure on the paper, not to have strong tension in one area. Due to many secrets, scrolls have long life, we will review the secrets in our future blogs and exhibitions!
Different styles of mounting on scrolls.
In Japan, there are some major types of hanging scroll mountings. Major one has three different ranks, Shin (high), Gyo(medium), and Sou(basic). How you distinguish them is the cloth being used, and mounting design. Highest ranks motif are often buddhist images, and used silk with gold cloth, and has three layers of surroundings. The decoration gets simplified as it goes to Gyo (medium) and Sou(standard). We have one blog post on the hanging scroll mounting, if you are interested, please kindly take a moment to go through the blog post.
How to hang the scroll and put it back to the box.
Many people do not know how to open and close hanging scrolls, and to be honest, I was scared to touch them, they looks very fragile, and I was afraid to if I would damage them at the very beginning when I first need to show to the visitors to our gallery... . And often we are asked to show them the steps of putting out to hang, and putting back into the box. So we made a tutorial video on our “Go Raku! youtube series. If you are interested, please check the video below!
We introduced “Sodateru” concept in the Marutsubo exhibition. In the hanging scroll too, It is important to “Sodateru” and “Mederu” each works. Scrolls are long lasting if you take right care of the pieces. Scrolls need to be hanged on the wall once in the while for them to breathe, adjust to the seasons, and prevent from foxsing and decays from the closed air. And in few decades, it needs to be maintenance. One of the beauty of hanging scrolls and Japanese Mountings are they can be re-mounted. Sumi-ink and the most of the pigments used on the pieces are waterproof after drying, and the glue used to paste paper is starch, so attached sheets of paper can be removed using water, during the maintenance process, backing sheets of paper are removed and replaced with new sheets of paper, which will support the main piece to live longer. Also, as the pieces are passed down to the new generations, trend style changes, often we can choose to change the mounting design. With the right “sodateru” care, hanging scrolls will last long and many generations can enjoy the scrolls. We hope that you meet with some piece that brightens your day, and cherish long time!
Maru Sankaku Shikaku (Circle, Triangle, and Square)(st01049)
This three simple signs are thought as a Zen expression of the Universe .
All things in the world are made up of these three forms, Circle, Triangle, and Square. Also, It is said to express the spirit of "Furyumonji | 不立文字" (Important things cannot be expressed in words, you need to learn through experiencing), which is unique to Zen Buddhism.
◯=Shape of circle, absolute truth, indestructible mind
△＝Shape of Triabgle: The figure of a zazen dancer being one with the Buddha
□=Shape of Square: The Trapped Mind If you step out, you will enter the world of Zen
Fudoshin is one of the forms of letting go or calmness. In Japanese martial arts and art, it has become an effective concept in the philosophical and spiritual aspects of the practice of seeking more evolution.
The goop in the eye laughing at the snot in the nose (jk00067)
This is a Japanese proverb. the goop in the eyes are calling snot in the nose dirty, so that they don't notice their own shortcomings and ridicule the shortcomings of others. Similar meaning saying in English is “the pot calling the kettle black”.
Shiro Tsujimura started to paint abstract after he turned 70 years old. Like the Zen saying, "Furyumonji | 不立文字" (Important things cannot be expressed in words, you need to learn through experiencing), his abstract works let the audience gives many different angle to look at. Depending on the viewer's experience. Each person has unique experience in their lives, and when one look at the Shiro Tsujimura abstract work, what it let you feel is very unique.
Seitaro Kuroda is a famous and successful artist / illustrator. in the 1970’s his illustrations are everywhere in japan. He re-discovered the traditional material Sumi-ink and paper just recently, and started to create pieces with these classical materials