The Color and Luster of Urushi

There are various classifications of urushi according to the materials added and its quality. Some examples are nashigokochi?urushi , shugo-urushi and ro-iro urushi.
The various kinds of urushi are used for different processes according to their properties and with various application techniques also being possible urushiware has an extremely wide variety of expressions.
With the mixture of pigments into urushi, colored urushi can be made.
The representative colors of urushi are red and black.
Many shades of red urushi can be obtained depending on what is mixed with the urushi from the bright red akakuchi to an almost orange araishu and with awakuchi being a color that is about halfway between the two. There is also the profound deep red of Honshu and the more brownish tinge of bengara.
The black of urushi is known as shikkoku which is the Japanese equivalent of jet black and describes the darkest and best quality of black.
There is also green and ivory colored urushi.

The Black of Urushi

In ancient times black urushi was made using materials such as soot as a pigment.
However, from the Azuchi Momoyama period to the Edo period it was discovered that black urushi could be made by adding iron to urushi.
The urushiol reacts with the iron to produce the characteristic black color.
Black urushi used today makes use of this chemical reaction.
However, once urushi has been refined, even if iron is subsequently added it will no longer become a dark black.
With the higher water content the reaction of iron and urushiol progresses more effectively.
Iron powder is added to ki-urushi and the process of making kurome and nayashi is carried out.
An urushi with a depth, luster and appeal in keeping with the name shikkoku and an unparalleled durability.
Techniques derived from such experience and ingenuity and that have reached such a high standard could now probably be considered a form of science.



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