That all lacquer, even that sold as pure lacquer, undergoes some adulteration, is rendered evident from the fact that, in accordance with a strange custom peculiar to the lacquer trade, the retail manufacturers sell even the smallest quantity at. the same rate at which they buy it from the wholesale merchant.

Gold Lacquer

Among the tools and materials used in the manufacture are: -

Neji - Fude

Brushes made of rats' hair, used for tracing out the patterns, and for drawing the very fine lines, etc. The best are made of the long hairs from the backs of "ship rats," whose fur is not so likely to get rubbed.

U- No -Ke- Usuji-Fude

Fine brushes made of hares' hair. These are a little larger than rats' - hair brushes, and are used for filling in the patterns of the best articles, also for drawing outlines on common articles and ground work.

There are 2 sizes, Dai and Sho, used for drawing "large" and "small." There are, besides, 5 sizes of Ji-nuri-fude (grounding - brushes).

U - No - Ke - Hake

A flat brush made of hares'hair, used for spreading the lacquer on large pieces of work. There are 2 sizes used.

Men - So

A stiff brush made of deer's hair, used for applying the Sabi, etc, in making raised gold lacquer. It is only employed for stiff mixtures.


Flat brushes of human hair, for smoothing the lacquer after application, as in ordinary plain lacquer. There are 2 sizes used.


Compasses with fine brush attached for describing circles.


Brushes made from the long body - hairs of a horse, used for smoothing the fine gold powder and brushing off extra particles, as also for dusting. There are 4 sizes.

Fude - Arai

Brush - cleaner, made either of ivory or tortoise - shell. The brushes have to be very carefully cleaned, after using, with Sesamum orientate oil, to remove every trace of lacquer.


A quill from the wing of a swan or crane, over one end of which is stretched a piece of silk, used for scattering the gold - dust. There are 2 sizes used.

For applying Nashiji or Hirame, bamboo tubes of 3 different sizes are used, with silk of more open texture.


Spoon, for putting the gold - dust into the quill or bamboo tube.

Hirame - Fude

A pointed piece of bamboo or other wood, used for picking up and applying Hirame, or the gold, or shell - squares.

Kujira - Bera

Whalebone spatula. Used for mixing the materials, and also when transferring the tracing on the paper to the article to be painted (process described farther on). The kind used is called island whalebone, and comes from China; that obtained from Japan is practically useless, being liable to split. Two sizes are used.


Spatulas made of Hinoki (Chamcecyparis o'tusa), smaller than those used by workers in plain lacquer.

There are 3 sizes used for applying plain lacquer, and 3 for applying Sabi.

The tooth of a fish, ordinarily the Tai {Cerranus marginalia), fastened with lacquer on to a piece of bamboo, used for polishing such crevices as are too. small to admit of charcoal, etc, being employed.

A piece of polished shell, used for smoothing the paper on which the pattern is drawn before tracing with lacquer. -


A palette, made either of tortoise - shell or buffalo - horn, worn on the left thumb.

Take - Ban

A small bamboo board, used when cutting the gold and silver foils into squares.

Gold And Silver Dust Used For Orna - Mentation

Of these there are several kinds, viz.: - Yasuri - ko or fun (file - powder), made of Yaki - kin (pure gold), Koban - kin (10 parts gold to 2 6/10 silver), and Gin (silver). There are 12 qualities of each, differing in fineness.

Besides these, there is an extra large kind, used for ground - work, called Hira-me (flat - eye). The coarsest filings, whether of pure gold, Koban, or silver, are taken and rolled out flat on an iron plate. Of Hirame there are 8 kinds each.

Next comes the sort called Kashiji, from its resemblance, when applied to the article, to the rind of a pear. Na - shiji is used for ground - work, in making which pure gold, also Koban - kin (10 parts gold, 2 6/10 silver), Jiki - ban (10 parts gold, 3 1/10 silver), Mam - ban (10 parts gold, 3 6/10 silver), and silver of seven qualities of fineness each, are used.

Aka-fun' (red powder) is vermilion mixed with pure gold, Koban - kin; and silver, for shading.

Kuro-fun (black powder) is camellia - charcoal powder mixed with pure gold, Koban, and silver.

Giyobu nashiji is the coarsest kind of Nashiji made, but it is little used, as it requires 7 or 8 coats of lacquer to be applied before it is covered sufficiently to stand polishing.

Keshi - Fun

This is the finest kind used; it is only made in pure' gold and.

Koban. This is made by mixing gold - leaf in liquid glue till it is reduced to an impalpable powder; water is then added, and when the gold sinks the liquor is poured away. This is repeated till all the glue has been got rid of.

Shaku - Do Fun

A mixture of 7 parts pure gold and 3 of copper powder.

Kana - Gai

Foil made of pure gold, Koban, and silver. It is made of 4 thicknesses in each quality, viz.: Hon - neji, Chiu - neji, Usushu, Kime - tsuke, the last being the thinnest.

Besides the above, there are several mixtures, as -

Kuri - Iro - Fun (Chestnut - Coloured Powder)

A mixture of one - half gold - dust with powdered camellia - charcoal and vermilion.

Ncdzumi - Iro - Fun (Rat - Colour Grey)

A mixture of half silver and powdered camellia - charcoal, and a little vermilion.

In each case it is evident that several distinct shades can be obtained according as more or less colour is added to the gold and silver dust. It is a remarkable fact that no vegetable colours can be used with lacquer. They are all eaten up, as it were, by the lacquer, and disappear, which accounts for the very few variations seen in the colours of lacquer. The workmen have never been able to produce white, purple, or any of the more delicate shades.

Of late years, since cheap work has been introduced, the custom of using tin - dust has been adopted for making common Nashiji. It is manufactured of the same sizes as in gold and silver, and when plenty of gamboge is mixed with the lacquer to cover it, an inexperienced person might easily mistake it for gold when the ware is new; but it soon deteriorates. Burnt tin - dust is also sometimes used for under - coats in making cheap raised lacquer.