NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/12/14


ベンガラ Bengara Bengara

Jp En

Bengara is inorganic red pigment whose main ingredient is iron oxide, Fe2O3, and it is the oldest coloring agent known to mankind.
Bengara is written弁柄, in some cases紅殻, in Kanji and is also known as Indian Red and Venetian Red.
Bengara was thought to be introduced from China, via the Korean peninsula, into Okinawa. The name Bengara was believed to have been derived from Bengal, the Indian province that most of the iron oxide came from.
Bengara’s ingredient, iron oxide Fe2O3, was produced naturally more than any other iron oxide based coloring agents. However because its mineral composition is very similar to that of red rust from iron, nowadays artificially composed dyes have become more common than naturally produced ones.  Nariwa-cho, Takahashi, Okayama Prefecture, is the only remaining place in Japan that still produces Bengara naturally.
In ancient time, Bengara was rare and much treasured as a noble color. Shuri Castle in Okinawa is known to have Bengara red color. Because Bengara was superior for coloring and sealing as well as resistant to heat and water, it was applied to wooden buildings to prevent aging damage.
The color of Bengara might lack certain brightness more common in other red based pigments, but its flamboyance today still keeps holding people’s affection.
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2007/5/2


一閑張(一貫張) Ikkanbari Ikkanbari Bamboo Craft

Jp En

Ikkanbari bamboo craft is designated as a traditional handicraft by Kagawa Pref. It is a kind of papier-mâché technique, in which washi paper is pasted on wooden or bamboo frames then coated with persimmon tannin. As Sanuki province (present-day Kagawa Pref.) is a hometown of Kobodaishi Kukai, it is said that the lacquering technique to use persimmon tannin was introduced from China by Kukai. This craft was, however, invented in the 17th century by Hirai Ikkan, a naturalized person from Ming dynasty China. Until plastic was introduced, persimmon tannin was used in many ways such as vessels or base for lacquering. The Ikkanbari product is very strong and durable because of the water-proof and antiseptic property of persimmon tannin. It is subdued in color and has staid gloss. At the present time, items such as baskets, plates and small boxes are being made. Recently Ikkanbari is also favored as the material for Japanese-styled indirect lighting.
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