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The Baren

Tarô Shimo




The wood-block printer's tool known as the baren is made from a shallow dish of paper-maché formed by pasting dozens of thin sheets of washi paper together. Into this ategawa is placed a whirlpool shaped tsuna (or baren-tsuna) made from thin strips of bamboo skin braided into threads. This assembly is then wrapped with another sheet of bamboo skin (the tsutsumi-kawa) to produce the completed baren. Some craftsman use the term 'baren' to describe just the inner coil itself, and call the entire assembly the 'baren-ichimen', but in common usage, the completed tool wrapped in bamboo skin is generally referred to as the 'baren'.

In the following three parts of this volume (Tsuna, Ategawa, Assembly) I will try to explain things as clearly as I can, accompanied by illustrations carefully drawn by Mr. XX Takei. It is possible that some will find my explanations overly long and detailed, but imagine that somebody far in the future was to 'excavate' this book. It is probable that the art of making the baren will have been completely lost by that time, but with the assistance of this book, anybody will be able to make a baren with no other background knowledge - cutting through the mists of time. That is the aim and purpose of this book. I was afraid that this specialized art might have already died, but found that it still has a spark of life left in its obscure corner of the world. Finally I have been able to bring you a comprehensive picture of this art.


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