photo Raden

Raden

Raden is a decorative craft that uses the iridescent parts of seashells such as abalone, turban shells, and pearl oysters, which are shaved down very thin. Ra means a spiral shell and den means to decorate. The technique was conveyed to Japan from China about 1,300 years ago, and marvelous examples can be seen in the treasures at Shoso-in Temple in Nara.

Works

Facts about raden

Seashell used for raden is classified as either thin or thick. Thin shell pieces are also known as blue shell, and are obtained by rubbing with a whetstone or simmering and peeling off the surface. They are no more than 0.1 millimeter in thickness. In one variation, gold or silver is applied to the reverse side of the shell so that it seems to glow from within. Thick shell is made by rubbing seashells flat with a whetstone, and is approximately one millimeter thick.

Did you know?

The special beauty of raden comes from the contrast between the jewel-like luster of seashells and the deep tones of the Urushi. In the piece shown above, the flower petals are made of pearl oyster shell with color applied on the reverse side.

DETAIL

How to do raden -Using thick shell

  1. (1) Cut out pieces of shell with a scroll saw
  2. (2) Carve a design into the Urushi surface
  3. (3) Apply another coat of Urushi and polish it down to expose the shell
  4. (4) Decorate further with maki-e, burnish the surface, and you're done!

How to do raden -Using thin shell

  1. (1) Cut out pieces of shell with a blade
  2. (2) Apply Urushi on the reverse side of the shell and affix it
  3. (3) Apply another coat of lacquer and polish it down to expose the shell
  4. (4) Decorate further with maki-e, burnish the surface, and you're done!
  • "What Are Traditional Crafts? -A Guidebook to Seeing, Learning, and Enjoying-" Edited by the Japan Kogei Association Eastern Branch. Published by Unsodo / List of works English translation: Kazuko Todate (Art critic / Art historian)

WORK

View All Works