Category Archives: References

Inro: a functional art

A circular inro decorated with an Eastern dragon

Inro are small containers that could be roughly described as the handbags or pouches of ancient Japan. They had both practical and esthetical value. Though they usually were square, round or polygonal in shape, a variety of special animal shapes also exist. Over time, these containers came to be extremely luxurious and extravagantly decorated gadgets.

Komai metal inlay jewellery

A lacquered wooden jewellery box with 3 Komai metal inlay bracelets.

Metal inlay jewellery is created through a process called damascening. It involves inlaying a steel ground with thin threads of gold and silver. The ground is then sealed through either oxidisation or via use of lacquer.
The Japanese term for damascene work is zogan (象嵌). The latter encompasses not just metal inlay, but can also describe other inlay techniques. One such example is Gohon Mishima ware, which refers to a type of pottery that is decorated via an inlay technique. In the case of Mishima ware, the material used as both a ground and inlay is clay. Another example is Shibayama inlay (Shibayama zogan), which describes lacquer inlayed with shell, coral, tortoiseshell and ivory.

Woodblock printing, an overview

Many of the visitors who come to the Japanese Gallery Kensington are surprised to hear that all of our stock consists of original artwork and that the bulk of it is antique. Considering that we mostly carry works on paper, this is not surprising. Due to the materials that are used to produce woodblock prints, […]

Samurai Art Expo, Utrecht, 15-17th June 2018

Samurai Art Expo celebrated the best of Japanese Samurai Arms, Armour and fine art at Jaarbeurs event venue in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Journalists, art collectors, Japanese culture fans and the public were invited to the expo, which was a unique new international antiques exhibition of Japanese art, illustrating the history and culture of Samurai-era Japan, organised by a team of experts from Asia, Europe, and Americas.