Shippo, means seven treasures in kanji, is Japanese name for cloisonné enamel. The word came from Buddhist sacred book because of the beauty which reminds us inlayed colorful gems.
The technique was said to be born in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt before the year of Christ began.
In Japan, similar art was discovered from burial mound of 7th century, and some Japanese tried to create some. However, the production of Owari Shippo began much later, in 1833.
A son of a plater in Owari domain, current Nagoya prefecture, is the founder of Owari Shippo. His name was Kaji Tsunekichi.
He tried to imitate a cloisonné plate found at an antique ship, probably imported from Netherland. He studied the plate and finally discovered the way. Owari Shippo then became famous and Owari area became the center of Shippo production in Japan.
Owari Shippo uses metal, usually silver or copper, as its base. After putting enamel glazing on the base, bake it to harden the surface.
There are various patterns and some artisans actually draw beautiful flowers and sceneries. Especially, drawing forms by putting silver lines and color each part by enamel is the famous technique of Owari Shippo. Since the decoration is very sophisticated, one product is baked 4 to 8 times.
Until now, a variety of products such as pendant tops, vessels, small boxes have been created. In 1867, Owari Shippo was exhibited at Exposition Universelle de Paris and became popular all around the world. Since then, lots of Shippo arts have been introduced in world fairs.
Owari Shippo was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1995.