In the plate of light brown bronze (Fig. 201), which presents the simplest possible case, there is no attempt at a raised surface; the artist has simply taken a plate of bronze, 8 1/2 in. diameter, he has cut a design in it, and inlaid that design with shaku-do. Wherever he has scooped out the drawing of the beautifully graceful bird, he has inlaid shaku-do; and -he has taken a darker variety of shaku-do - that is to say, one which contains a little more gold which, when treated with a suitable pickling solution, will come out a little darker - and has in that way produced exactly the effect of an Indian-ink painting, in a dark and comparatively light shade, on a piece of glazed brown paper. There is no attempt at producing an effect by a raised surface, but the design is completed by an inlay of dark shakurdo on lighter shaku-do on a bronze basis.
In Fig. 202, a larger plate, 18 1/2 in. diameter, is, on the whole, a fair example of the treatment of the complex series of alloys. They first of all take a plain surface of copper. In this case there is a raised ornament, instead of a perfectly flat one. They scoop out the outline of a leaf, undercut it to a certain extent, make the leaf that they wish to insert of a particular alloy - it may be shaku-do tipped with gold, the surface being roughened and the gold hammered on just as a dentist would - then the whole design is fitted in like a puzzle, and the result is they build up a picture gradually, using coloured alloys, or alloys which may be coloured by the action of a pickle. The basis is a plate of copper. In one place is a leaf which is not really raised, but a little sunk below the surface of the original plate. The only relief it possesses is obtained by hammering a light variety of gold over it. Then comes a red bud of kuromi, set with its golden points. Then a shibu-ichi leaf, half of which is of red kuromi, and the bird, of shaku-do, with all its feathers carefully drawn, and the lustrous effect of the plumage produced with really consum-mate skill by the use of fine lines. Then comes a shibu-ichi flower with a golden centre.
This is typical of the work they do; however large or small it may be they simply inlay these coloured alloys, using generally a sombre base.
The Japanese do not merely trust to obtaining effects by high relief, as Is the sate with this plate; very often they employ a darker alloy for producing the effect of painting on metal, so to speak, in a very remarkable way.
There is one example in Huish's collection, a knife handle, which presents the effect of a. duck's back And wings in comparatively high relief with his neck under water (Fig. 203). He is a shaku-do purple duck, plunging through Silvery-grey water, but his body is in high relief, his neck is of a different nuance, of tinted ihahu-do to the rest of his body, and it is so beautifully let in that it is visible only in certain lights, but it produces exactly the effect of the' duck's neck being below the surface of the water. No European artificer could obtain such a result; it shows the most beautiful effects, not merely of texture but brilliancy and transparency. The colour effect is produced by the use of the pickles - the composition has been already given; but many of the ei-tremely valuable old Chinese bronzes have acquired their tint simply by long exposure to atmospheric in flu-At a (Fig. 204) is a portion of an ordinary Chinese bronze kettle, in which the ornament has been obtained by little puncture) from behind, which reflect the light.
When first looked at, you would think there were two metals, a copper kettle Inlaid with silver; but it is nothing but the affect of the polished surface of brownish copper, with raised prominences from behind to reflect the light and produce the effect of another metal; c, Fig. 204, is another example of similar ornament. Often the surface is very beautifully worked, and the effect is produced entirely without any variation of colour, for the tint is uniform throughout, of a characteristic brass. The surface is produced by simply striking it all over with a blunted tool, which gives the particular lines c (Fig. 204).
Japanese knife handle.
The particular Japanese alloys are those to which the names of moku-me (wood grain) and miya-nagashi (marbled) are given. The characteristic alloys which the Japanese employ are taken in thin sheets and soldered together - kuromi, shibu-ichi, and shaku-do - in alternate layers, as shown in Fie. 205; they drill conical holes A B in them to a greater or less depth, or roll them out, and then beat them up from behind, and then file off the prominences C, and then beat the sheets until the holes are obliterated, and thus get these different strata, and produce the beautifully banded effects. Fig. 206 shows more accurately the method of actual work, the pattern being produced by beating up a seven-layered plate from behind, and filing the surface flnt.
Fig. 207 is a cylindrical bead about 1/2in. high; half the cylinder is of the marbled alloy (produced as shown in Fig. 206), and the rest of the cylinder is made up of bands of red-copper shaka-do and silver, beautifully soldered. Fig-. 208, a wonderful piece of manipulation, is a bead 3/4-in. diameter; half the sphere is of grey shibu-ichii, and the rest is compelled of very fine soldered plates, showing how perfectly the complex alloy may be worked, even Into a rounded surface. Fig. 209 represents a knife socket of alternate layers of copper and shaku-do, the effect of wood-grain (mobu-me) being exactly imitated.