Culture

400 Years Making Sumi

Sumi tools and materials for calligraphy

Sumi tools and materials for calligraphy.  Sumi stick, slate inkwell, calligraphy brush, sumi stick with finger impression by workman at Kobaien sumi factory in Nara, Japan.

While documenting Japanese culture for National Geographic Traveler,  I had the opportunity to photograph at Kobaien in Nara, the oldest sumi shop in Japan. The city of Nara produces 90% of the sumi-ink in Japan.  Kobaien sumi shop has produced sumi-ink sticks for calligraphy and ink painting for 400 years.

Sumi is made by collecting soot from burning pure vegetable oil, usually sesame or pauwlonia, and combining this with glue derived from vegetable starch.  This is then shaped into sticks and dried.  Ink is made by grinding the sumi stick in the slate inkwell called a suzuri until the desired consistency is achieved.

I requested Mr. Mitsuyoshi Nakano, chief at the Kobaien sumi shop, to have the workman making sumi press his fingers into a freshly made stick for me, shown here. Mr. Nakano then created the names Nara and Kyoto in Japanese calligraphy on washi, mulberry paper as a gift.

Kobaien sumi shop, 7 Tsubaicho, Nara, Japan Tel. (Nara 22)-4922

More images on Japanese culture in Kyoto & Nara.

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Kazakhstan

Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan

 

Photographer Wayne Eastep at Kazakhstan exhibition "Nomads & Networks"

Wayne Eastep standing by his photograph of the Tien Shan mountain range in Kazakhstan. The Tien Shan are also know as the “Celestial Mountains.” The print is at the entrance to the exhibit “Nomads and Networks” at the Freer | Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.

Documentary Photographer Wayne Eastep with his print at the Arthur Sackler gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Documentary photographer Wayne Eastep next to his print of a Steppe horse in the steppes of southern Kazakhstan. The print is part of the “Nomads & Networks” exhibit at the Arthur Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Nomads and Networks: The ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan

August 11- November 12, 2012

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery        Asian Art Museum of the Smithsonian Institution        Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

 

 

Artifacts in the exhibition.                             Images from THE SOUL OF KAZAKHSTAN.

Wayne Eastep at the opening of "Nomads & Networks" exhibition at the Arthur Sackler gallery Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.

Wayne Eastep with Dana Masalimova, Third Secretary, Embassy of the Republic of Kazkahstan and William C. Veale, Executive Director U.S. – Kazakhstan Business Association at the opening of “Nomads & Networks.” Arthur Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.

The Exhibition has been organized by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University in collaboration with:

Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan.                                           The Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan.                                                           Multifunctional Scientific-Analytical and Humanitarian-Educational State Enterprise “Nazarbayev Center.”                                        Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

A. Kh. Margulan Institute of Archaeology of the Republic of Kazakhstan                        Museum of Archaeology of the Republic of Kazakhstan 

The exhibition was made possible through support of the Leon Levy Foundation.

 

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