The decorative fabric used for a mounting is called hyôsôgire.
Hyôsôgire frames and decorates the artwork (calligraphy or picture), and helps to deepen the esthetic experience, and extend the appreciation of Japanese art.
Hyôgu, also called hyôsô, usually refers to hanging scrolls. The hanging scrolls mostly display Buddhist paintings, pictorial art, or calligraphy. The mounts serve to preserve, and decorate the paintings in the hanging scroll.Makimono (not-hanging scrolls), folding screens and fusuma also use hyôgu-mounting.
The decorative cloth used for a mounting is
Most of hyôsôgire is figured textile that has patterns woven into them. Kinran, which uses golden threads, and donsu which do not use golden threads are types of clothes used for hyôsôgire.
There are many patterns used in hyôsôgire. Imperial patterns, luck-bringing patterns, patterns with plants, and elements of nature such as water, clouds, dragons and other animals, stripes and geometrical patterns are used. There are also special fabrics, called meibutsugire, favored in tea ceremonies. One of the typical attributes of the hyôsôgire is, that many fabrics have small continous patterns, because when mounting the separately cut parts, the pattern should flow naturally.
about hyôgu (mounting)
Through the ages, meibutsugire (precious cloth) and various cloths have been used as mounting cloths on hanging scrolls.
A hanging scroll integrates art with backed fabrics. It is made to hang on the wall of the tokonoma (alcove). The main piece of art may be a Buddhist painting or other pictorial art, or calligraphy drawn on paper. For each art piece, the appropriate cloth is chosen and arranged by craftsmen called hyôgushi (mounter). In addition to hanging scrolls, hyôgu-mounting can be seen on folding screens, fusuma (panel doors) and not-hanging scrolls..
The mounting has a function, both esthetical and practical, its purpose is both to please the eye, and to preserve the paper. A scroll can be rolled up and put away in a box when not used.
the history of mounting
Mounting was introduced to Japan in the Heian period (8th-12th century). It came with the spreading of Buddhism from China. At that time, Buddhist paintings used in Buddhist missionary work, and original mandala drawings were mounted. ( From the Kamakura period (12th-14th century) to the Muromachi period (14th-16th century), hanging scrolls with Zen Buddhistic pictures and calligraphy spread in Japan. As the tokonoma (alcove) made its entry as a unique interior style of Japanese homes, the form of hyôgu-mounting established itself as the suitable decoration for this place.
As tea ceremony flourished in the Edo period, Chagakehyôgu （tea room scrolls）were made especially for tea ceremony rooms. These rooms were a place of socializing. As the tea ceremony later spread to the common people, the Chagakehyôgu also became common. Before hyôsôgire (the cloth specifically designated for mounting) came to existence, one would re-use precious materials from vestments of Buddhist monks and other ceremonial costumes as mountings. But since the middle of the Meiji era, materials are woven specifically for the purpose of being used in mounting.
Nowadays, with changing lifestyles, the hyôgu-mountings are not only decorating the tokonoma-alcoves, but also used in western style art framing, and various types of partition screens like byôbu and tsuitate.
material, technique, and form of mountings
The hyôgu-mountings are made using Japanese paper, textile, glue and wood. The most important task in creating a hyôgu-mounting is attaching the paper with the fabric using old glue. This task, also called “backing”, requires a highly skilled craftsman.
There are generally three mounting formats; The format used for Buddhist art, which might combine several precious fabrics; sandan byôsô, the conventional format using three different materials, and the most simple fukuro hyôgu.
structure of the fabric
Hyôsôgire, the fabric used for mounting, has three kinds of fabric structures; plain, twilled, and satin.
Plain fabrics…Warp and weft intersect alternately. Front and Backside look the same, and it is therefore reversible.
Twilled fabrics…Three or more threads are used together as one unit, which makes the cloth softer than the plain fabric. The crossing is softer than the plain fabrics. There is a front-side and a back-side.
Satin…A combination of five or more warps and wefts, creating a pattern with a three dimensional effect. It is a highly lustrous, supple and delicate fabric.
A textile where warp and weft are one single color respectively is called icchô-ori (one-chô-weave). By adding more threads and more colors to the weft, one can create thicker and more complex expressions. These are referred to as nichô–ori (two-chô weave), sanchô–ori (three-chô-weave) etc.
material, length and unit of fabric
Traditionally, silk yarn was the main material used, but now cupra and cotton are also used.
The width of the fabric roll is approximately 70cm, the length is: 10m per roll – for gold threaded fabrics, 9m per roll– for fabrics with no gold threads. One roll of fabric is a unit called 1 tan.
kind of cloth
Figured fabric has two main categories; kinran and donsu.
Kinran is figured textile with gold.
Donsu is figured textile without gold.
Kinran (golden textile)Kinran is mostly twilled or satin fabric incorporating gold in its pattern.
To make the golden thread, first golden paper is made by either gold leaf glued on Japanese paper using lacquer, or by gold sand sprinkled on the paper. The golden paper is then cut into threads 0,3 mm wide. This is weaved together with the weft.
The “gold leaf” may be made of pure gold, platinum, silver, or oxidized silver. The gold leaf paper has a front- and backside. The handling of gold leaf paper is very difficult, and requires outstanding weaver skills. It is recognized as one of the traditional techniques of Japan.
Kinran (golden textile) also includes Takeyamachinui, an embroidery technique where gold threads are used on sheer gauze, Kinsha, a special gold-thread weaving technique, and Inkin, a technique of pressing gold leaves onto the cloth using lacquer, gelatin, or glue.
Donsu (figured textile without gold)Donsu is a generic term for figured textile, excluding kinran (golden textile). Donsu is a patterned fabric. The patterns are created by the use of different colors and different types of threads for the warp and the weft. Donsu ingeniously makes use of the different techniques of weaving mentioned earlier: plain, twilled, and satin. Among the typical donsu there are: nishiki, aya, shusu, shôha, fûtsû, and each has its own texture and characteristics.
Nishiki is a thick fabric, masterfully making use of multi-colored warp. Aya and shusu on the other hand, are cloths using less strong colors and therefore goes better with the Japanese paper of the calligraphy and the Japanese paintings. Aya has a thicker texture and its expression is rather unobtrusive, whereas shusu has a thin, shiny and supple fabric.
Muji (plain)Plain, twilled and satin fabrics with no figures or pattern, is referred to as muji.
Nanako, which is similar to plain weaving has an toned-down expression. The fabric can be used sideways.
Shike incorporates raw silk threads, which gives it a unique character.
Pâ is a supple thin cloth with few warps and no irregularities.
Fabrics such as eginu, uwamakiginu, and kawamata silk are also among the many muji (plain) cloths used for hyôsô, mounting.
pattern of the cloth
The kinds of patterns
- Imperial/court patterns (Yûsoku monyô)
- Traditional pattern mainly used for the furnishings of the court, clothing, and goshoguruma (a kind of elegant ox-drawn court carriage used chiefly by the nobility of the Heian period)
- Good Luck patterns (Kisshô monyô)
- A celebratory pattern that, in addition to being decorative, has the important attribute of warding off evil and bringing happiness. The images of the crane and the turtle, and of treasures were introduced from China.
- Plant patterns (Shokubutsu monyô)
- Arabesque, peony, chrysanthemum, paulownia, pine, bamboo, plum tree, cockscomb etc. The arabesque patterns are mostly continuous patterns of intertwined vines, stems and leaves. One can also see combination of plants, like in the grape-vine pattern budôkarakusa.
- Animal patterns (Dôbutsu monyô)
- Crane, mandarin duck, phoenix, dragon, turtle, lion, hare etc. The dragon, which originated in ancient China, is an auspicious beast that is said to live in water, ride the clouds and soar through the sky. Among the many dragon patterns, there is the square-shaped dragon pattern, and the pattern of the twin dragons facing each other. The phoenix is a sign that good luck is on its way, and the crane is a symbol of long life. The carp dancing in the waves, and rabbits looking back between trees and flowers, are also common.
- Nature patterns (Shizen monyô)
- Clouds, waves, mountains etc.. Among patterns that treat natural phenomenon are unzu which shows a swirl of clouds, reishi which are clouds that resemble the Lingzhi mushroom, and kaminari, which depicts lightning amidst the clouds. Among the water patterns, there are wave patterns like kanzemizu, and seigaiha, and katawaguruma, which depicts carriage wheels amidst waves.
- Tools patterns etc.
- Tools pattern Fan, treasure, top etc. The fan symbolizes prosperity in the unfolded shape. There is Juji monyô, which uses the calligraphy of the celebratory good luck character kotobuki 寿 in the design. The fan, which has a shape that gradually widens up, is a symbol of prosperity.
- Geometrical patterns (kikagakuzukei)
- Fylfot, circle, triangle, square, hexagon, rhombus, vertical stripe, lateral stripe, check, Chinese character. Geometrical patterns based on dots, lines, vertical and horizontal stripes and net mesh patterns. Among these patterns are kikkô, or tortoise shell, which is comprised of contiguous hexagonal shapes, ishidatami, or stone pavement, in which squares are spaced evenly over a surface in a checkered pattern, and uroko, or fish scales, which is composed of triangles alternately replacing each other.