Yosegi | The mosaic work Yosegi | The mosaic work – RESHA

Yosegi | The mosaic work

Author - Divyashree Thacker


Picture Credit - ana-cooljapan.com

Yosegi is a type of traditional Japanese marquetry which originated during Japan’s culturally rich Edo Period.

Some Japanese sources say the Yosegi method was introduced in the later half of the 10th century, primarily due to the lack of large trees and a growing creative impulse to create gigantic statues of the Nyorai and Bosatsu.

It has become widely known and respected throughout the world. The mosaic work is made by making use of natural fine grains and textures of wood.

Before this statues were carved from a solid block of wood using a technique called ichiboku. Yogesi, on the other hand timbers uses timber of different colours cut into oblong rods of desired sections. The rods are then glued together to form the section of geometrical design pattern. The sectional surface is sliced into thin plates of wood, which are glued onto boxes and other handicraft works.

To add to the glaze and sturdiness of the surface, finishing coatings of lacquer are applied. Yosegi art is commonly found on the outside of Japanese secret boxes or puzzle boxes, but may also be used to create or decorate many other items such as trays, chests, jewellery boxes, vases, photo frames, drink coasters, etc


Picture Credit - imgcp.aacdn.jp

This new method has various advantages. Not only is it faster, allowing several artists to work in tandem on different parts, but also the final sculpture was much lighter than one carved from a single block of wood. And, in the centuries that followed, the prefabricated nature of the individual body parts allowed temples to quickly repair or replace damaged or destroyed body parts.

Patterns on the little wooden boxes made with Yosegi techniques look like they could be painted on, but that's not the case.

Yosegi is known for its beautiful and intricate patterns. Despite its vivid hues, nothing is painted and all the colours come from the natural hues of different woods, which come from the many trees that grow in the Hakone region of Japan, where the technique originated.

In the modern world, quantity is often valued over quality, and doing something fast is usually chosen over doing it well. Time is money, after all. Technology and craftsmanship don't really mix, which means the latter is disappearing. The fact that Yosegi is still around is a heartening reminder that the world still appreciates the care and history that goes into objects made by hand.


Thumbnail Image Credit - yosegijapan.com