Kyo Zogan | Authentic Kyoto-style Inlay

  • Japanese
  • English
  • Chinese

History and traditional technique

Zogan is a beautiful traditional Japanese inlay craft with a number of different forms depending on the material used such as metal, wood, or ceramic. Using a thin metal plate as a base, small differently colored metal pieces are inlayed to create delicate patterns with subtle color differences and an uneven surface. When written in Japanese, “Zo (象)” means “symbolizing” and “Gan (嵌)” is inlaying.

Various techniques of inlay crafts have prevailed widely around the world since ancient times. Metal inlay crafts originate from Damascus in Syria and it is said that the technique traveled along the Silk Road and reached Japan around the Asuka period (592-710). Inlay crafts were initially utilized in weapons or utensils for religious ceremonies. One of the early examples of inlay technique can be found on the ancient samurai sword called Shichisei-ken possessed by Shitennoji Temple in Osaka. Here, inlay decoration is applied on the blade and the end of the handle of this large sword. Another example is at the Shosoin Imperial Repository in Nara where a sword with gold inlay is preserved. At Yakushiji Temple in Nara, symbolically important Buddhist patterns are inlayed on the palms and feet of their main Buddhist statue.

Nakajima Zogan is one of the successors of the tradition of Kyoto-style Zogan. With a deep respect and admiration for the excellent inlay skills of our predecessors, we never cease from pursuing the further development of Zogan.