Maumene furnishes analyses of Japanese bronzes sent home in 1875 from public monuments, temples, and works of art. The alloys are granular in texture, and readily take a good polish, bringing out the true colour of the metal over large surfaces. The predominating tint is purple where much antimony is present, red where iron is the chief ingredient. These alloys have evidently been prepared with unrefined minerals. In Maumen's opinion they are to be regarded as results of the admixture of copper pyrites and antirao-nial galena with blende. In some, the calcination appears to have been imperfect, as shown by the sulphur present in b:-
The Japanese word corresponding to the English " bronze" is karakane, which means " Chinese metal"; whereas the brass alloys are called shin-chu. The spelter used for the latter is imported. The industry of bronze-ca. ting is of very ancient origin; at first foreign metal, imported either from China or Cores, must have been used, as Japanese copper has only been produced since the beginning of the 8th century; by that time, however, the industry of bronze-casting had already reached a certain state of perfection. This is shown by the fact that the priest Giyoki, who lived about this time, proposed the erection of a monster bronze statue of Buddha, which was carried into effect. There were formerly 3 of these statues in Japan, each about 50 ft. in height. Other specimens of large bronze-castings are the famous bells of Nara, Kiyoto, Nikko, Shiba in Tokio, and others, which have an average height of 15 ft. and are more than 10 ft. in diameter. Statues of all sizes, bells, vases, water-basins, candlesticks, incense-burners, lanterns, etc, have been manufactured in large quantities for temples and their approaches.
Portrait-statues, like the monuments erected in foreign countries to honour the memory of celebrated men, have never been made in Japan. As articles for household uses, may be mentioned fire-pots, water-pots, flower-vases and basins in which miniature gardens are made, perfume-burners, pencil-oases, small water-pots of fanciful shapes for writing-boxes, paper-weights, and small figures representing divinities. These bronze-castings are either made in the simple and severe style of the old celebrated Chinese bronzes, or else are specimens of the peculiar character of Japanese art, which chooses its subjects from natural life, either combining them with lively scenes showing a great deal of humour, together with the most minute copying of nature, or else using them to produce some artistical effect. The bronze is cast in clay moulds formed upon models made of a mixture of wax and resin, which is melted out from the finished mould previous to pouring the metal in. The artist who makes the model generally does the casting himself, and in most cases the workshops consist only of the master's family and 2 or 3 assistants. The melting furnaces are of exceedingly small dimensions, and generally made of an iron kettle lined with clay.
After casting, the pattern is carefully corrected and worked out by chiselling, but the best bronze-casters prepare the model, the mould, and the alloy in such a way as to produce castings which need no further correcting or finishing. In some cases also the whole pattern is produced merely with the chisel working upon a smooth surface; this, for instance, is frequently done in the provinces of Kaga and Yechiu, which are very important ten* tres of the bronze industry. The bronzing of the pieces is done in many different ways, each manufacturer having his own particular process, which he modifies according to the composition of the alloy and the colour he wishes to produce. The chemicals used for this purpose are very few in number, and limited to vinegar, copper sulphate, and yerdigris as the principal substances; other materials, used less frequently, consist of iron sulphate, red oxide of iron, and lacquer. It may be added as a peculiarity, that an infusion of Eryanthus tiuctorius is also made use of in the bronzing process.
The ornamentation of bronze castings is not only produced by relief patterns moulded or chiselled, but also by inlaying the objects with gold, silver, or with a different alloy. This kind of workmanship is called zogan, and is principally carried on in the provinces of Kaga and Yechiu. The process by which the inlaid work is effected differs according to the nature of the material on which it is produced. Sometimes the design is hollowed out to a certain depth with a graver or chisel, and the ornamenting metal, silver, gold, etc, generally in the shape of threads, is laid into the hollow spaces and hammered over, should the alloy be soft enough; the edges of these grooves are first slightly driven up, so that when the silver or gold has been laid in, they can be easily hammered down again, so as to prevent the inlaid metal from getting loose. Or else the surface is merely covered in the required places with a narrow network of lines by means of filing, and the thin gold or silver leaf fastened on to this rough surface by hammering.
This last process is the one used mostly for inlaid iron-work. It is also said that the de-sign is often produced by a process very similar to that of the so-called niello; only instead of the black sulphuretted silver and copper, a more easily fusible alloy is used. Inlaid work of the above kind is principally made in Kaga and Yechiu, at Kanasawa and Tnkaoko, where the alloy used for the bronze casting is mostly composed of copper, tin, zinc, and lead. In addition to the castings, the repousse work should be mentioned, by which mostly small metallic ornaments for' swords, tobacco pouches, etc, and also larger pieces, such as tea-pots, scent-burners, vases, etc, are produced; the inlaying of this kind of ware is sometimes of extraordinary delicacy and beauty. The dark blue colour shown by a great number of smaller pieces is that of the shakudo, composed of copper, and 3 or 4 per cent. of gold. Finally, attention should be called to the so-called moku-me, a word which might be rendered by " veins of the wood." The metal-work designated by this name presents a sort of damask pattern composed of variously-coloured metals, chiefly white silver, red copper, and a dark blue alloy.