Yosegi

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Japanese yosegi puzzle box
Japanese yosegi jewelry box

Yosegi-zaiku (寄木細工?) is a type of traditional Japanese parquetry which originated in Japan’s culturally rich Edo Period. It has been increasingly well reputed in foreign countries. The mosaic work is made by making best use of natural fine grains and textures of wood. Timbers of different colors are cut into oblong rods of desired sections. Spindle tree (Euonymus spp.) and Ilex macropoda are used for white, aged Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) for black, Picrasma quassioides, mulberry (Morus alba) and Chinese lacquer tree (Toxicodendron vernicifluum) for yellow, camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora) and Maackia for brown, black walnut (Juglans nigra) for purple, Japanese cucumber tree (Magnolia obovata) for blue and Chinese cedar (Toona sinensis) for red. The rods are then glued together to form the section of geometrical pattern designed. The sectional surface is sliced into thin plates of wood, which are glued onto boxes and other handicraft works. To add to glaze and sturdiness of the surface, finish coatings are applied.

Yosegi veneers are commonly found on the outside of Japanese secret boxes (himitsu-bako) or puzzle boxes, but may also be used to decorate many other items such as trays, chests, photo frames but the most common use is to decorate the surface of the Japanese yosegi puzzle boxes. The boxes differ in sizes and number of moves. The length is usually measured in the traditional Japanese units of measurement called the sun (pronounced "soon"), with one sun equal to approximately 3 centimetres (1.2 in), hence a "5 sun" box would measure about 15 centimetres (5.9 in) in length. Boxes are most typically between 3 and 6 sun in length. Some well-known masters pride themselves in making unique boxes that do not follow any size guidelines.

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