kamikawasakigami (Paper)

About this object

History of use

Papermaking originated on the Asian mainland and spread to Japan by 1500 years ago. For centuries Japan has produced the greatest quantity and variety of handmade paper or washi in the world. Traditionally, papermaking was a family or community enterprise which thrived in mountain farming communities where cold, pure water and wild bast fibre shrubs, such as mulberry, are plentiful. Washi is an important cultural symbol and holds a place in nearly every aspect of Japanese life. It is also a significant aspect of both Shinto and Buddhist rites and customs. Used for sliding screens. Dates back to the reign of the Emperor Reizei (967-969 C.E.). During the Tokugawa Period, 1000 households make this paper, in 1964, 70 households, and today 17 households make this paper as a sideline.

Narrative

This is part of the Tesukiwashi Taikan, a collection of handmade paper published, in an edition of 1000 copies, in Tokyo as a project to commemorate the centennial of Mainchi Newspapers and to preserve Japanese handmade paper. A collection on this scale had not been made before. This collection consists of 5 boxes of mounted and labelled samples with an explanatory book in 4 of the boxes. The text is in Japanese and with less detail, in English. Compiled and edited by a special editorial staff of scholars. Published by the Mainchi Newspapers of Tokyo, Japan.

Cultural context

sample

Physical description

Washi sample mounted horizontally on white, labelled and folded paper with 3-pointed leaf above scrolled 'm' watermark. Sample is rectangular, thin, translucent, light white/brown with a few dark flecks and fibres. Faint watermark pattern of widely spaced vertical lines. Pattern of meshed fibres predominates. Left and upper edges cut straight; right and lower edges retain irregular deckle edge which is tinted light brown. Upper surface is smoother.