2012年7月27日金曜日

'Henohenomoheji': Japanese Doodle in Calligraphic Engraving

In Japanese calligraphy (and of course in other asian one), paper isn't the only medium on which characters are written; you can inscribe characters on stone and wood pieces as well. This branch of calligraphy is called kokuji (刻字; literally "engraving character"). And I recently made a kokuji piece of a Japanese traditional half-in-fun doodle 'henohenomoheji.'

Henohenomoheji is an emoticon composed of seven hiragana Japanese phonograms, which are he (へ), no (の), he (へ), no (の), mo (も), he (へ), and ji (じ). Check the Wikipedia entry 'Henohenomoheji' for more details (I'm slothful, sorry). But let me add some more info. First of all, it is so subcultural that, although it's known by every Japanese person, it's been little introduced overseas. Secondly, this doodle is very traditional. As you may imagine, it's not academic enough to study, and the history is unclear. But according to Satoshi Kako (1926-), a famous picture book writer who collected over 47,000 pieces of data of henohenomoheji, the prototype of it dates back to before the early Edo period (the early 17th century) (Kako 2006:541).

I made the kokuji piece as the present for the student from the US who joined the ICU calligraphy club last winter but is going back to her hometown today. I have two reasons for choosing henohenomoheji. 1) It can be enjoyed without language and cultural barriers: Even if her friends don't know Japanese, they would recognize it as a face. 2) Debut of him: As I said above, henohenomoheji is little known outside Japan, so I wanted to introduce "him" abroad.

Now let's begin.

Mid June: I wrote lots of drafts with a brush. Um, it's difficult to make it balanced.

I wonder who has ever written this many.

Then paste the favorite page to the wood board (17*18cm) with starch glue. (By the way is there starch glue abroad?)

Glued

Mid July: engrave, just engrave... All that engraving killed my fingers. It was the toughest part.

Chiseled

Wash away the paper. Then sandpaper the surface smooth.

Paper stripped

Paint black and red acryl gouache and gold poster color. Varnish the surface twice. Finally sign and seal on the back. Done!

Completed!

Reference: 加古里子. (2006) 絵かき遊び考. 東京: 小峰書店.

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