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Event duration:
from 27 July 2006 to 18 September 2006

Japanese amber

There are several amber mines from Hokkaido in the north and to Kyushu in the South at a distance of 1800 km in Japan. Together with this long distance there is a great difference of time from the former term of the Cretaceous (about 110 million years age) to the Tertiary period (about 30 million years ago). There were many mines from the archaeological point of view, but now ambers are not dug in other mines except the Kuji mine. We herein describe Kuji ambers which are dug on a small scale in the most famous mine "Kuji" in Japan.
It is reported that there was an amber road from the north to the south in the past. It is put on record that Kuji ambers of 1296 kg were transported to Kyoto in 1703 and a lot of ambers were supplied to Edo (Tokyo at present) through this amber road.
In ancient times of old tombs (the fifth and sixth centuries) Kuji ambers were transported to Kyoto and Nara which were capitals in these days and many buried jewels (magatama, etc.) were made of Kuji ambers. It was certified by analysis using infrared absorption spectrophotometer that these relics from old tombs were made of Kuji ambers.
Kuji city is located in the north at a distance of about 500 km from Tokyo. In this city now there are an amber workshop and the only amber museum in Japan. In Kuji city the stratum of a shoe-shaped structure is exposed and is about twice as older as the stratum with ambers in the Baltic Sea. This stratum is expanded from the bottom of the sea to the hill, and then to the bottom of the sea again. It contains a tolerable quantity of ambers. In 1937 and 1938 ambers of about 13 tons were dug annually.
Monster lumps of amber were dug often in the Kuji mine. A lump of amber of 19,875 kg was dug in 1927 and now is owned by a private person. Its dimensions are 40 x 40 x 25 cm. In 1941 a bigger lump was dug and contributed to the National Science Museum in Japan. Its dimensions are 40 x 23 x 23 cm and its weight is 16 kg.
This lump was broken in two and their joints are fitted perfectly. It is clear that this lump was formed as a lump of flew out resin like large lumps of Baltic and Dominican ambers. Perhaps this lump contains nothing, because many thin layers are not observed in this lump. It is reported that large lumps of 45 kg and 60 kg were dug in 1905, but they did not exist now.
A spectrum of Kuji amber is quite particular.
Clear yellow ambers are rare and a color of the most of Kuji ambers is not clear and is seemed to be orange-yellow-brown. This particular color is obtained by many little brown drops of a plane lens form. Kuji amber does not contain rainwater and moisture of any plant and contains some special substance. By heating of a small thin piece of this amber, small bubbles are ruptured at 330ºC and a camphoric odor is given out. It is supposed that kinds of trees of these ambers were special.
Striped ambers like an agate are often observed. These stripes were occurred by presence of dark-colored small bubbles one after the other.
Most of the Kuji ambers were broken by earthquakes and the pressure of mountains. In many ambers melted quartz entered later and it was crystallized at a crack. Such amber became heavily by addition of a weight of quartz and usually has stripes like a shell and white rough surfaces of rupture. In the above-mentioned lump broken in two, white quartz got covered on a white part of a surface of rupture; namely a crack of the amber was filled with a thin layer of the quartz.
Kuji ambers are discovered in stratums of sandstone and quartz. A part of these stratums directly forms the seashore and another part forms bluffs and inland hills.
A large quantity of Kuji ambers exists in a stratum with a thickness of 600 m. Mostly this stratum dips, so ambers discovered at adjacent places belong to various epochs. Most of the Kuji ambers belong to the Cretaceous (about 80 million years ago), but a small part of them belong to the Oligocene (about 30 million years ago).
Insects and other inclusions were discovered in Kuji ambers. But, regrettably, most of them are in "melted" state due to bad state of their preservation. Recently insect inclusions has being discovered one after another and they contribute to science.
Kazuhisa Sasaki

Welcoming address by T. Suvorova

Dear visitors!
The Kaliningrad Amber Museum has been purposefully carrying out the policy focused on presenting different traditions of artistic amber treatment for educational and cultural purposes aiming at enriching and developing the local art situation.
The first acquaintance with the Japanese jewellery art took place at the International Contest of Amber Goods "Alatyr – 2005" held in the Kaliningrad Amber Museum. The works of the Japanese artists excited invariable interest both with the public and with the amber artists. There was an obvious desire to learn more about the "amber art" of the Rising Sun Country. Thus, the project was initiated based on the works from Japanese and Baltic amber made by the craftsmen from the opposite edge of the world.
Amber is the general name for the minerals of organic origin whose source was the resin of ancient trees. It is a well-known fact that there are a lot of sorts of amber and amber-like resins of various ages. They are to be found on vast areas of the world: in the Taimyr, in the Transcaucasia, in West Siberia, in Krasnoyarsk region, in Yakutia, on Sicily, in Portugal, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Lebanon, Burma, Japan, Romania, Dominican Republic... The mineralogical name of the Baltic amber is succinite. It is the amber acid present in the structure of amber of various origin in the amount from 3 to 7% that makes it viscous, i.e. suitable for treatment. Amber that contains less than 3% of acid is brittle and can not be treated. Amber that is used for making artistic pieces is rarely mined, and Japan is among those few countries where this is done.
The Kaliningraders appreciate and perfectly know the Baltic amber. The present exhibition is for the first time extending the range of this knowledge giving a possibility to compare – it gives an idea of the variety of the sun stone from a different area.
In order to facilitate the perception of a different tradition of decorative and applied art, the exhibition of amber is accompanied by photos and a video about Japan, by the national music creating a specific atmosphere of a different culture.
We express our sincere gratitude to the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Beoluna Tokyo company Mr. Teruhisa Takaba for providing us with the possibility to organize the exhibition in Kaliningrad, the city where amber is honored and new meetings with the favorite gem are looked forward to.
Tatiana Suvorova
Director of the Kaliningrad Amber Museum

Welcoming address by T.Takaba

Dear organizers of the exhibition and Kaliningradians!
I believe firmly that opening of the exhibition "Japanese Amber" will be able to raise the curtain on the new second stage for further cultural exchange between Japan and Russia and promotion of mutual understanding between nations of both the countries through amber. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Director of the Amber Museum Mrs. Tatiana Suvorova for that she gave me such a chance.
Our company Beoluna Tokyo Co., Ltd. was established in 1960 and started to import Russian amber from the Combinate in 1964. Since this time we have been importing stably and expansively Kaliningrad amber for more than 40 years and by it we have contributed to increase the export of Russian amber.
Early in 1964 almost no people knew amber in Japan, but now the Japanese amber market has grown into the biggest market in the world at a result of our endeavor.
During the past about 40 years in 1981 we established the amber processing company and the sole amber museum in Japan in Kuji city which is located on the north and the only amber mine in Japan. Now all amber stones and semi-products are reprocessed and designed at its workshops, and then supplied to the market.
At the present exhibition we introduce history of Japanese amber, Japanese culture and so on and exhibit our products with new design using unique metal fittings and Japanese traditional techniques. Lacquer is called "Japan" in English.
Japanese traditional technique "Makie" to be used for many exhibits at this exhibition is a technique used from ancient times and its basis is lacquer.
Our products using "Makie" are manufactured by spreading gold and silver powders and shells over Russian amber coated with lacquer, namely Japan and Russia are in harmony in these products.
I am sure that these products attract your interest in own high artistic quality of amber and the above harmony.
Part of these products is exhibited at a shop in the Catherine Palace (Pushkin, Saint-Petersburg) where "Amber room" was restored three years ago.
These products gained public favor of not only Russian clients but also tourists from Europe and USA. I flatter myself that this display is very useful for those clients have a new understanding of the profound beauty of amber.
Except the above reason I decided to hold the present exhibition "Japanese Amber" in return for cooperation at the exhibition "Collection of Kaliningrad Amber Museum" which was held in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan in 1990.
In cooperation with Kaliningrad Amber Museum we introduced its amber ornaments to our clients in November, 1990 for the first time in Japan. High artistic quality and excellent technique of these amber products touched hearts of Japanese clients and were very useful to raise a reputation of your amber art.
Since then we have been inviting amber artists, who attended the restoration of "Amber room", from Saint-Petersburg and an artist from your region to Japan for enlightenment of Japanese clients on their artistic techniques.
Many Japanese acknowledged the good quality of Russian amber artistic products thanks to their efforts and now the Japanese amber market has ripened.
I desire that following exhibitions will be held regularly and mutually in both the countries availing ourselves of this opportunity.
I sincerely hope the present exhibition will promote an interchange of personnel (designers, masters, etc.) and a better mutual understanding of amber culture in Japan and Russia and open a path of mutual coexistence in amber business too.
Teruhisa Takaba
The Chairman of the Directors
of Beoluna Tokyo Company

Changes of processing of amber goods at the company Beoluna Tokio

Our company Beoluna Tokyo and its affiliated companies are recognized to be enterprises which are proud of the existence, a peculiarity and a unique image in the jewellery and accessory trade in Japan.
Especially we occupy a share of more 90% on Japanese amber market and are known well as Beoluna of Amber. At present our amber products are widely on sale through famous department stores, jewellery shops, dry goods stores and mail-order businessmen, including CATV (Community Antenna TeleVision), at various places in Japan.
The source of design and processing technique was mainly arisen from a traditional processing and ornament technique and characteristics of tortoiseshell work in design and form which our former company Nagasaki Bekko has possessed for many years.
Tortoiseshell is a natural organic material to be obtained from a sea turtle "Hawks Bill" which has been prohibiting from importing by the Washington Agreement.
This material bears a striking resemblance to amber in the quality of the material, luster, color, etc. Tortoiseshell goods were almost processed by hand and its technique is very delicate and bold and has been kept till 1980 by initiating into the secret technique and obstinate spirit of masters.
We feel proud that such a source of processing even now lives in processing of amber goods at our company.
Our amber goods are now produced on the basis of the sensibility of women’s staffs which graduated from fashion colleges, colleges of jewellery processing, art universities, etc.
Our company Beoluna Tokyo put place especially many fashionable amber accessories on the market, being aware of modern Japanese women.
One of them, amber goods to be designed so as to match a casual fashion, are very popular among women from young in twenties to middle and high aged.
A light combination of colorfulness of amber, which is the most distinctive characteristic of amber, and the modern fashion changed fundamentally the image which Japanese women entertained up to the present.
Especially since 1993 diversification of color of Baltic amber promoted a development of our amber goods on large scale.
Accessories with a casual design using varicolored amber to be used with a light heart and with ethnic feeling are very popular among women from working women to women in forties and fifties.
Another main our amber goods are elegant jewelries with a composed semi-formal design. In these goods scarce high-quality amber is selected carefully and platinum, gold K18, diamond and other multi-colored precious and semi-precious stones are combined. These goods receive strong support from rich women in sixties and seventies who understand and respect civilization as new jewelries not to have existed until now.
These amber jewelries, in which high sensibility of Japanese jewellery designers is in harmony with a mystique and an elegance of amber, match fashionable dressing up.
Our goods with extensive design to be produced skillfully in consideration of a sense of the times and the latest fashion are very popular not only in Japan but also at our shops in Catherina Palace in Russia.
Our amber goods to be painted by Japanese original traditional handicrafts "Makie" create a placid taste as accessories not only for Japanese dress "Kimono" but also for Western dress with modern design in which make the best use of Japanese traditional technique and a natural material.
The handicrafts "Makie" are ornament technique by gold and silver powders using lacquer "Urushi" and require high-level skillfulness and long time.
These goods are superb articles in which soft and affectionate amber and Japanese old traditional handicrafts match well.
They are widely used not only for Japanese dress "Kimono" but for Western dress and specially used for Japanese old tea ceremony and Buddhistical ceremony as articles of value.

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