Akama Inkstones

Records exist showing that an Akama Suzuri was offered at the Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura at the beginning of the Kamakura period (1185-1333). By the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868) these inkstones were being sold up and down the country.
By the time that Mori was leading the local clan, unauthorized people were prohibited from mining the stone from which these inkstones were made and should one be needed as a gift at such times at the Sankin Kotai, when feudal lords travelled to live in Edo, permission to mine the stone had to be given by the head of the clan. This made it quite difficult to obtain one of these much prized inkstones from the Choshu clan.

Akama Suzuri possess all the right qualities of a good inkstone. The stone is hard and it has a close grain. It is beautifully patterned and is soft enough to work. The hobo on which the ink stick is ground has a close grain helping to produce ink quickly and of the best quality in terms of color and luster.

Feature

Akama stones are hard and dense, with beautiful grain and patterns; they are also resilient and thus easy to work, all traits that make them very suitable to be made into ink stones. In addition, since the "hobo" which performs the function of teeth on which the ink is ground has a close grain it is possible to produce ink quickly and of the best quality in terms of color and luster

How to make

Since the stones suitable to be turned into ink stones come in layers of approximately one meter in thickness, they are extracted by digging a hole diagonally along the layer. The extracted stones are inspected and then turned into ink stones in the course of a dozen stages which include rough carving raised carving, decorative carving, finishing carving, polishing, lacquer finishing, etc. These stages, methods and techniques have hardly changed in the last 100 years: chisels varying in width from 2 mm to about 10 mm from the width of 2 mm are still been used and master carvers are still employing techniques which have been handed down from their fathers.

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