What is "Maki-e"?

What is "Maki-e"?

Maki-e (pronounced mah-KEE-ay) is the centuries-old Japanese art of adorning lacquer ware by applying multiple layers of lacquer decorated with powders and flakes of gold, silver and colored pigments as well as thin slivers of abalone shell. The maki-e craftsman starts his work with a drawing of the intended composition. The design is transferred onto the prepared lacquer surface. The task of transforming an outline drawing into a complex decoration of sprinkled powders is complex, lengthy and requires years of study and practice.

Togidashi-Taka Maki-e (Burnished-raised Maki-e)

This is also known as “Shishiai Togidashi Maki-e,” and it is the highest level of Maki-e requiring very advanced techniques. Urushi lacquer and powder charcoal are used to bring up the design in high relief. Then, the Taka Make-e technique is employed to create a three-dimensional design with living depth.

Togidashi-Hira Maki-e (Burnished Flat Maki-e)

The base is coated with an oilless black lacquer, and this is sprinkled with gold powder to create the design. This is then completely covered with a coating of Urushi lacquer, and after drying, the design is revealed by burnished the lacquer with charcoal.

Hira Maki-e (Flat Maki-e)

The design is created using colored Urushi lacquers and raw lacquer, and this is coated with sprinkling of gold powder. After drying, several additional layers of Urushi lacquer are applied. When these layers have hardened, the pen is burnished to give a deep lustrous gloss.

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