Gifu lanterns, or Gifu paper lanterns, are a special product of the city of Gifu in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.
Gifu lanterns have a history of over three hundred years. In 1995, their high level of craftsmanship was recognized with a designation as a National Traditional Craft. The oldest historical documents we can read now about lanterns were written in the Muromachi period (1500 ‘s). After this period, until the Edo era, lanterns seemed mainly used in the upper class such as the royal family.
Yosegi is a type of traditional Japanese marquetry developed in Edo period Japan in the town of Hakone. Resembling a type of mosaic, yosegi is created through the combination of fine oblong rods of wood chosen for their grain, texture and colour, and is well-known for its intricately patterned nature.
Yosegi Zaiku marquetry, or wood mosaic, originated in Hatajuku in Hakone. The wood mosaic technique is said to have been created here by a man named Nihei Ishikawa in the late Edo period (1800s), and the craft has since been passed down from generation to generation.
Washi is traditional Japanese paper. The term is used to describe paper that uses local fiber, processed by hand and made in the traditional manner. Washi is made using fibers from the inner bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub, or the paper mulberry bush. As a Japanese craft, it is registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
Papermaking was introduced to Japan more than 1,300 years ago. The Chronicles of Japan, Nihon Shoki, written in the year 720, state that the Chinese methods of making ink and paper were introduced to Japan by the Korean Buddhist priest, Doncho, in 610.
Washi is produced in a way similar to that of ordinary paper, but relies heavily on manual methods. It involves a long and intricate process that is often undertaken in the cold weather of winter, as pure, cold running water is essential to the production of washi. Cold inhibits bacteria, preventing the decomposition of the fibres. Cold also makes the fibres contract, producing a crisp feel to the paper.
The hanbok is the traditional Korean clothes. The term “Hanbok” literally means “Korean clothing”. It was established as a part of the unique living culture of Korea, influenced by the geographical and climatic nature of the Korea, and handed down throughout the years to present times.
Hanbok can be traced back to the Three Kingdoms of Korea period (1th century BC ~ 7th century AD), with roots in the peoples of what is now northern Korea and Manchuria. Early forms of Hanbok can be seen in the art of Goguryeo tomb murals in the same period.
In the modern days, hanboks are much more stylish and are adorned with many different patterns but back in the day, these patterns held significant symbolism. Most patterns are nature patterns such as lotus flowers for nobility, peonies that are embroidered on a bridal gown symbolize honor and wealth. For royalty and other high-ranking officials, we usually see this in historical k-dramas wherein their red hanboks are adorned with patterns of dragons, phoenixes, cranes, and tigers.
The Japanese kimono is one of the world’s instantly recognizable traditional garments. Though kimonos are indelibly linked with tradition in Japan, they have more recently become a cult fashion item around the world. This coincided with a renewed interest in Japanese culture worldwide in the late 1990s. The kimono’s delicate patterns, sumptuous colours and striking silhouette suddenly appealed to a fashion-conscious generation who were keen to stand out from the crowd, especially on social media.
Originally, “kimono” was the Japanese word for clothing. But in more recent years, the word has been used to refer specifically to traditional Japanese clothing. Kimonos as we know them today came into being during the Heian period (794-1192).
Jingdezhen Porcelain is the most well-known type of Chinese porcelain, originating from Jingdezhen city, Jiangxi Province in southern China. It is characterized by fine quality, graceful shapes and elaborate patterns, representing the classical ceramic art all around the world.
Jingdezhen may have produced pottery as early as the sixth century CE, in whose reign it became a major kiln site, around 1004. By the 14th century it had become the largest centre of production of Chinese porcelain, which it has remained, increasing its dominance in subsequent centuries. From the Ming period onwards, official kilns in Jingdezhen were controlled by the emperor, making imperial porcelain in large quantity for the court and the emperor to give as gifts.
Su embroidery (su xiu) is the most celebrated of the four main styles of Chinese silk embroidery, hailing from Suzhou and surrounding towns of Jiangsu province. Renowned for its subtle and refined needlework, Su embroidery is praised for its use of the finest threads, balanced compositions, dense stitching and smooth finish.
Su embroidery originated in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. In Three Kingdoms era (220-280 A.D.), Su embroidery has been used as a decoration for clothing. It gradually moved into people’s life. During the Song Dynasty (960-1697 A.D.), Su embroidery had reached a high level.
With increasing contact to the West and their artistic styles, Su embroidery adopted many of their portraiture and oil painting techniques. Today, it is not uncommon to see Suzhou embroidery of impressionist paintings, lifelike portraits or contemporary oriental art.
Batik fabric making, which uses wax to dye cloth in intricate patterns, is widespread throughout China and Southeast Asia. But batik has also been a part of Miao culture for about 2,000 years, and is listed as one of China’s Intangible Cultural Heritages.
According to the Book of Later Han, which covers the Eastern Han period from 25 to 220 AD, ancestors of the Miao people in southwestern China already mastered the batik craft by the first century.
Nowadays the tradition of batik is still practised by the minority groups who live mainly in Yunnan and Guizhou provinces in south western China.
Hemp and cotton is waxed usually with beeswax and dyed with a strong natural indigo to produce a very deep blue. Indigo dyeing is widespread throughout the area and there is great expertise in producing the indigo paste from the leaves, and dyeing the cloth.