Sunday, August 05, 2012

Engraved marks on the stone walls

I attended a workshop with other English speaking guides at Nagoya Castle for an ink impression on a wall stone. 

On many wall stones of Nagoya Castle, you see a number of interesting carved patterns.  It is a well-known fact that these prints represent the clans’ marks or samurai family crests.  A great number of people from each clan had joined the hard labor of transporting the huge stones to construct  the new castle.  

 In 1610 TOKUGAWA Ieyasu,  the founder of the Edo Shogunate ordered to build the Nagoya castle in this area.  Since the area was a flat land, collecting thousands of stones from distant areas was a hard work beyond our imagination. Of all his subordinates, 20 feudal lords were appointed to be in charge of constructing the castle. Their own home lands were away from the castle area.  In order to bring out the stones all the way out the mountain areas they traveled far long on rough roads, or some were by way of sea or river.  When they finally brought their stones at the castle site, they didn’t want to lose any of their stones in confusion with others from different clans. So they carved their marks on every stone to appeal their utmost contribution to the great mission.
By the way, Nagoya Castle was occasionally repaired during its long history of over 300 years until it was completely burnt down in an air raid  in 1945 at the end of  World War II. However many wall stones remained as they were  although some burned quite hard. The present main tower was reconstructed in 1959.

This way people today can feel and touch the predecessors’ resolution.
Considering the story behind these stone seals, it was a very interesting event to make a stone rubbing to a piece of Japanese paper.  I chose two marks, one was said to be from the Maeda clan, which was one of the influential feudal lords of those days. Another one was not known well as for its holder.
First I wetted the stone surface with a soaking cloth and put a sheet of Japanese paper onto a wet surface. Again I wetted a piece of paper on the wall until the engraved print came out to be clear. It was an interesting part of work to see that an engraved mark remained dry and other flat stone surface got wet. After leaving a few second to dry excessive water from a sheet of paper, I patted an ink and then peeled off a paper very carefully out from the stone surface. 


And here they are.  Aren’t they nice?  
 I’m going to make each of them into a nice hanging scroll to put it on the wall of our traditional alcove in the guest room with tatami mats. 

The hanging scroll in the last picture is from the tea house in Nagoya Castle site. 

For those who are interested in doing a stone rubbing at Nagoya Castle, I advice you should check the official website.  A summer session was over last month.

Sorry this is Japanese language only.  If you want to try out  this event, e-mail me so that I can inform you about the coming schedule if any.

1 comment:

Will said...

Wow, that's really interesting. They will be nice decorations for your house.