By mounting is meant the attaching of a sheet of paper to a piece of cloth or perhaps another sheet of paper, on which some Chinese calligraphy or painting has been drawn and then either rolled up (when not in use) or hung on a wall. Another type of mounting is one in which the paper is fixed to a wooden frame and used as a of screen, as in the case of Byobu, or as one type of sliding door-the Fusuma.
Generally speaking, however, mountings, called Hyogu or sometimes Hyoso, refer to scrolls or painting hung on a wall, and the classical weaving or mounting cloth used to accent the picture is called Hyosogire.
History Of Mounting
Mounting date back to the Heian Court Period (857-1185 A.D.) when Esoteric Buddhism was being introduced into Japan from China. Paintings of the Buddha and other Buddhist saints which were used as items of reverence in the dissemination of the religion throughout the country, along which Kakejiku or scroll painting called Mandala, which were symbolic depictions of the Buddhist cosmos, formed the basic models for mountings.
From the Kamakura into the Muromachi period the scroll paintings called Shoga (actually they were pictures painted alongside some capsule Buddhist phrase) of the Zen school became widespread. It was during this period that the Tokonoma or alcove became established as part of the unique architecture of the Japanese room. It was their use in the Tokonoma that the form of the mountings came into completion. They were used as decorations and frequently changed to harmonize with the season or the occasion.
The Edo Period (1603-1868) saw the appearance of Chagake Hyogu which were mountings hung in the tea-rooms and served as appropriate conversation pieces during the tea-ceremony. The subject matter of the paintings were either calligraphic, called Bokuseki, or Southern Chinese style landscapes painting by famous men of letters. These were called Bunjinga.
Other types of mountings developed along with the popularization of Buddhism and the tea-ceremony becoming a part of the culture of all levels of the society. Today , with the Westernization of Japanese homes, mountings are no longer found only in the Tokonoma. We can now find them hanging on almost any wall inside picture frames or serving as dividers called Tsuitate, to set off certain areas or parts of a room.
Mounting Materials And Techniques
The basic materials used in making mountings are paper and cloth, in addition to some sort of adhesive, and wood. The most important process in the making of mountings is the ancient technique of backing or mounting the painting onto either a piece of cloth or onto some other paper with an adhesive. Lining up and fixing the two pieces requires a highly skilled hand. Even though the same person may use the same materials and the same techniques, the consistency of the adhesive or a slight difference in humidity could produce a totally different result.
Therefore, painstaking care is an essential element. The cloth used for the backing and the paper on which we have the painting are cut and then joined together. The work of fitting together, adhering, and drying section by section is repeated over and over exposing the piece to various temperatures. Finally, horizontal rods are attached to the top and bottom and the mounting is complete.
The Shape of Mountings
Mountings do not exist as independent pieces, that is, as standardized frames. They are part of the painting or calligraphy itself and together form one art piece. A well-balanced mounting is one in which the backing paper or cloth best brings out the qualities of the painting or calligraphy. When preparing mountings, the paper or cloth used as a binding surrounding the picture gives overall shape and proper tone of color to the piece. There is a detailed procedure for deciding the shape, the measurements, the way of putting paper and cloth together, and even the color of the binding paper itself.
Finally, when not in use, in order to preserve and protect it from damage, the mounting should be rolled up and kept in the paulownia wooden box made especially for this purpose. As the materials for the mounting must harmonize with the picture being mounted, it is natural for there to be various shapes depending on the size, use, or subject matter of the painting. Chagake Hyogu which are closely associated with the tea-ceremony and the unique mountings used for decorative purposes in Western style rooms serve as good examples of the breadth in the variety of mountings.