Fusuma, the sliding panels 襖
Another definition of space
The fusuma is an opaque sliding panel, used to redefine the space in traditional Japanese houses.
The fusuma serves to define the space in the washitsu rooms of Japanese houses . It can serve as both a door and a wall. The shoji ( transparent sliding panel ) is used to separate the exterior and interior of the house.
All in one
From the Heian period (794-1185), the use of fusuma became popular. It served to divide the rooms of the houses in which the Japanese lived, such as the bedroom and living room, for example. " Portable fusuma ", the byobu (folding panel in the form of V or W) And the tsuitate (two-leg panel), can also be used to redefine the space of the room.
These panels typically measure 91.5 x 183 centimeters, which is roughly equivalent to the size of a futon. The upper rails holding the fusuma are called kamoi and the lower ones, shikii. The maneuver of the fusuma was originally done with the aid of a small cord, the use of which disappeared during the Kamakura period (1185-1333) to make way for a hikite fitting.
Nowadays, the height of fusuma has increased to 190 centimeters, and this is due to the fact that the Japanese have grown since the Heian era! The fusuma are composed of a wooden structure, covered with a canvas and paper on both sides. There are more modern versions of cork or steel that also exist.
The decorative part above the fusuma is called ranma. Unlike rosettes or window pane visible in western constructions, the design of the ranma is done in conjunction with the rectangular shape of fusuma and shoji on both sides. When the current electricity did not exist, the ranma allowed the circulation of the light in the house.
Read also: Minka, the cottages of Japan
For a long time, beautiful ornamental paintings were signs of power and wealth within the samurai class. In the temples, these paintings are imbued with Buddhist teachings. The art of painting on fusuma and doors is very common in Japan. The Momoyama period (1568-1600) is also the climax of the interior painting, shôhekiga. The Nijô Castle and the reception rooms of the Hongan-ji Temple in Kyoto are famous examples of this.
There are little to no colors in the paintings and are contrasted according to place and time. The princely mansions were covered with gold and silver. Before the Momoyama era, there were no traces of calcium carbon in Japanese paintings. After this period, the painters had the same colors as the painters of the modern age. The red color was made from red ocher, vermilion, and red lead. The yellow was made from yellow ocher and litharge, the green of malachite and blue, azurite. White was derived from white clay (kaolin) and black from Indian ink.
In sukiyazukuri- style villas, the choice of abstract paintings is a more common choice, inspired by the building and the garden. This style refers to the place where the tea ceremony is held, chashitsu, and is based on its aesthetic, the latter being very fashionable.
Read also: The tea ceremony