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Karaoshi (embossment)

Karaoshi (embossment)

Unlike regular karakami, in which the blocks are first smeared with paint and then pressed onto the paper, the designs are applied to the paper by pressing it against the blocks to obtain a relief pattern.

This technique was widely used for book covers in Korea during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) and some of the plates that were used are still extant. The technique was imported to Japan in the 16th century and was particularly used on the covers of printed books in the 17th and 18th centuries. Although the technique is essentially the same, the designs used in Japanese karaoshi covers often differ from the Korean ones and reflect the taste of the local craftsmen.

Watch the video to see examples of both types.

Books introduced in the video

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The Art of Washi Paper in Japanese Rare Books

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