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A kakemono (掛物?, "hanging thing"), more commonly referred to as a kakejiku (掛軸?, "hung scroll"), is a Japanese scroll painting or calligraphy mounted usually with silk fabric edges on a flexible backing, so that it can be rolled for storage.
As opposed to makimono, which are meant to be unrolled laterally on a flat surface, a kakemono is intended to be hung against a wall as part of the interior decoration of a room. It is traditionally displayed in the tokonoma alcove of a room especially designed for the display of prized objects. When displayed in a chashitsu, or teahouse for the traditional tea ceremony, the choice of the kakemono and its complementary flower arrangement help set the spiritual mood of the ceremony. Often the kakemono used for this will bear calligraphy of a Zen phrase in the hand of a distinguished Zen master.
The kakemono was introduced to Japan during the Heian period, primarily for displaying Buddhist images for religious veneration, or as a vehicle to display calligraphy or poetry. From the Muromachi period, landscapes, flower and bird paintings, portraiture, and poetry became the favorite themes.
The "Maruhyōsō" style of kakejiku has four distinct named sections. The top section is called the "ten" heaven. The bottom is the "chi" earth with the "hashira" pillars supporting the heaven and earth on the sides. The maruhyōsō style, (not pictured above) also contains a section of "ichimonji" made from "kinran" gold thread. On observation, the Ten is longer than the Chi. This is because in the past, Kakemono were viewed from a kneeling (seiza) position and provided perspective to the "Honshi" main work. This tradition carries on to modern times.
There is a cylindrical rod called jikugi (軸木) at the bottom, which becomes the axis or center of the rolled scroll. The end knobs on this rod are in themselves called jiku, and are used as grasps when rolling and unrolling the scroll.
Other parts of the scroll include the "jikubo" referenced above as the jikugi. The top half moon shaped wood rod is named the "hassō" to which the "kan" or metal loops are inserted in order to tie the "kakehimo" hanging thread. Attached to the jikubo are the "jikusaki", the term used for the end knobs, which can be inexpensive and made of plastic or relatively decorative pieces made of ceramic or lacquered wood. Additional decorative wood or ceramic pieces are called "fuchin" and come with multicolored tassels. The variation in the kakehimo, jikusaki and fuchin make each scroll more original and unique.
Types of scrolls
There are several naming systems for styles of scrolls. The first naming system tries to classify the scroll based upon the structure of the components of the scroll. It uses the terms Formal 真 Shin / Semi-formal 行 Gyō / Informal 草 Sō to describe aspects of the design. Other naming systems use direct names which will use the exact format a scroll should contain. Naming varies, by school or region of where the Hyōgushi trained. Additionally, schools of Toko no Ma design utilize names that conflict with those used by Hyōgushi. One school of Toko no Ma design called 雅道 Gadō calls a traditional 丸表具 Maru Hyōgu style scroll a 見切り Mikiri style scroll. Samples of some scroll types will be listed below.
The Maru Hyōgu, which is a fundamental and basic scroll style, is placed in the informal scroll style. The primary characteristic of these scrolls are the use of only one cloth for all parts of the scroll, and the Ichimonji bordering the artwork of the scroll. These scrolls lack a 中廻し chūmawashi which is typically a silk scroll with a 唐草karakusa pattern in the cloth. These are commonly made with solid colors in Japan. Some books list this as a Sō no Gyō style scroll, but Sagawa Taishin of Shibuya Kakejikuya did not put this in any category of scroll style.
- Mason, Penelope. History of Japanese Art. Prentice Hall (2004). ISBN 0-13-117602-1
- Hyodokai & Tooru Arakawa, "Watakushi ni mo Dekiru Hyōgu no Tsukurikata Nyūmon". Shibuya, Japan 1997 pg. 63
- Personal Conversation, Sagawa, Taishin, Hyōsōshi Instructor of Shibuya Kakejikuya.
- Masako Koyano, Japanese Scroll Paintings: A Handbook of Mounting Techniques. Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Washington D.C., 1979
- Hyodokai & Tooru Arakawa, "Watakushi ni mo Dekiru Hyōgu no Tsukurikata Nyūmon". Shibuya, Japan 1997 pg. 130-147
- Custom Japanese Calligraphy, Jonathan Maples, excerpts translated from the Arakawa text