Raden

photo Raden

Description

Raden is a decorative technique that uses the iridescent parts of seashells like abalone, turban shells, and pearl oysters, which are shaved very thinly. Ra means a spiral shell and den means to decorate. The technique was conveyed to Japan from China about 1300 years ago, and marvelous examples can be seen at the Shoso-in Treasure House in Nara.
The seashell used for raden is classified as either thin or thick. Thin shell pieces are obtained by rubbing with a whetstone or simmering and peeling off the shell surface. They are no more than 0.1 millimeter in thickness. Gold or silver can also be applied to the reverse side of the shell so that it seems to glow from within.
Thick shell pieces are made by rubbing seashells flat with a whetstone, and approximately one millimeter thick. The special beauty of raden comes from the contrast between the jewel-like luster of seashells and the deep tones of the lacquer.

Production for raden with thick shell

  1. 1.Pieces of the shell are cut out with a scroll saw.
  2. 2.A design is carved into the Japanese lacquered surface.
  3. 3.Another coat of lacquer is applied and polished down to expose the shell.
  4. 4.The piece is further decorated with maki-e, the surface is burnished, and it is complete.

Production for raden with thin shell

  1. 1.Pieces of the shell are cut out with a blade.
  2. 2.Japanese lacquer is applied to the reverse side of the shell and it is affixed to the piece.
  3. 3.Another coat of lacquer is applied and the piece is polished down to expose the shell.
  4. 4.The piece is further decorated with maki-e, the surface is burnished, and it is complete.
  • "What Are Traditional Crafts? -A Guidebook to Seeing, Learning, and Enjoying-" Edited by the Japan Kogei Association Eastern Branch. Published by Unsodo Reference artworks