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The rise and fall of gold leaf

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Author : Stanley
Update time : 2023-03-28 16:29:52
The rise and fall of gold leaf
There are five main countries in the world that produce gold leaf.They are China, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Thailand. Nanjing, China, the town of Zilbach, Germany, the city of Milan, Italy, the city of Kanazawa, Japan, and the city of Bangkok, Thailand, are known as the five major gold leaf production centers in the world.Excavations from the tombs of ancient Egyptian pharaohs prove that gold leaf has existed in the world for at least 5,000 years. in the early 15th century, specialized gold stores began to open in Vienna, Paris, London, Birmingham, and even North America. in the mid-15th century, the art of gold leaf-making was introduced to Germany, and gradually a center of production was formed in Nuremberg.

In recent years due to the increase in labor costs, Germany and Italy has basically no longer produce gold foil; Myanmar and Thailand still retain a very small amount of production; in Japan, the origins of gold foil technology is from China's Kanzen monk east to the past, mainly concentrated in Kanazawa City production, production accounted for more than 70% of Japan, gold foil produced in Kanazawa is mostly fine gold foil, has developed into tourism.At present, the production of gold leaf in China is still centered in Jiangning, Nanjing.

Nanjing has been the largest producer of gold leaf in China since ancient times, and most of the gold leaf used by the imperial palace and royal family came from Nanjing. Nanjing gold leaf was one of the tributes of the royal family. Now, China has liberalized the control of gold, especially with the gradual improvement of people's living standard, the demand for gold has surged, and the gold leaf in Nanjing has jumped from 1% to 50% of gold possession in the past, and there are more than 200 enterprises engaged in gold leaf in Nanjing.
Although gold foil is also produced in Zhejiang and Guangdong in China, the total production of gold foil in Nanjing is absolutely dominant, and the foil production output of Nanjing-based Gold Foil Group now accounts for more than 70% of the total gold foil production in China.


" The art of gold leaf making was introduced to Germany in the 15th century.Gradually a center of production was formed in Nuremberg."Most Europeans believe that the production and application of gold leaf was first introduced to Italy from the East and reached its peak in the 14th century during the Italian Renaissance, when multiple gold leaf workshops of less than 10 people were set up around Rome to serve the Pope. Due to the very strict handicraft regulations in Nuremberg, the first generation of gold leaf workers moved to the town of Zilbach, 17 kilometers from Nuremberg, in the 16th century. Here they found the best conditions to carry out this artisanal craft. From the beginning of the 20th century to 1926, the gold leafing process and manufacturing in Zilbaja reached a glorious peak, with some 130 workshops and 1,200 workers engaged in the trade.
The DAUVET gold leaf company in Lyon, France, has been in business for more than 100 years and is a family-run business with a strong reputation in France. The Maddox Gold Leaf Company of Birmingham, England, also family-owned and run by Mr. and Mrs. Grice, was founded in 1874 and has been serving the royal family.


The Maniti gold leaf company in Florence, Italy, is well known in Europe, and its ancestors have been making gold leaf in Florence since the early 17th century (1600) and have been doing so for 15 generations. Its products are found in the cathedral in Florence, the Versailles and Louvre in Paris, the Buckingham Palace in England, the Watertown in Venice, and the royal buildings in Russia, and its brand is well known in Europe.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Germans found that the air humidity and temperature in the area of Milan and Florence in Italy were more suitable for gold leaf making, and there were lower labor costs than in Germany, and gradually a certain number of factories were formed in this area, especially in the town of Abbiategrasso, a suburb of Milan, where the most existed, such as Paul Foil Company and Nazioanle Gold Leaf Factory.


Today, this traditional industry is gradually falling into decline in Europe, with a few manufacturers still surviving in Birmingham and Manchester in England, Lyon in France, Florence and Milan in Italy, and the town of Zilbahar, once the center of gold leaf manufacturing in Europe, currently has only five gold leaf factories, but this number is still the largest production base in Europe.
R.J. Forbes in "West Asia, Europe ancient craft technology research" a book, said, the 8th century "on coloring mosaic formula" recorded with gold, silver and other metals to manufacture foil method, the 10th century Heraclius "about the Roman painters and artists" also have manufacturing certain metal and alloy foil method. 1985 published "concise encyclopedia of Great Britain" recorded the early western gold foil forging techniques.

The process of forging gold leaf varies little around the world, except for a few details such as the use of parchment paper in the West, special bamboo paper in Burma, and washi paper in Japan.

"It is recognized in academic circles that the art of gold leafing in Japan wasKorea and has its origin in China."
Japan's gold leaf originated from China, which is the consensus of the two countries' academic circles. The "Chronicle of Japan" records that the first gold statue of Buddha was introduced to Japan from the Korean peninsula in 553 A.D., when Buddhism was developing in Jiankang (present-day Nanjing) in the Southern Dynasty of China. The scholarly community recognizes that the art of gold leafing in Japan was introduced from Korea and has its origin in China.
During the Sui and Tang dynasties in China, gold leaf was used in the restoration of Horyuji Temple and the great Buddha statue in Nara, Japan. In 834 A.D., Emperor Inomichi issued a proclamation banning the use of gold leaf. In the Kamakura period (1185-1333), the "Uji Gleanings" and the Buddhist legend collection "Shashiji" contain accounts of gold leaf artists in Kyoto who beat gold leaf and Buddhist artists who applied gold.
In Japan, gold leaf was first used for Buddhist statues and later for luxury goods; in 1696, the Foil Za was established to manage and control the production of gold and silver leaf, and in 1709, the Foil Za was abolished and gold and silver leaf were put under the control of the Gold Za and Ginza respectively, while foil beating by artists in other areas was strictly prohibited, and since then, monopoly and anti-monopoly around gold leaf production have continued.


At the end of the Heian period in Japan (around 1200), Taira Kiyomori, the founding father of Japanese martial arts, first used the luxurious and splendid gold leaf process introduced from the Maritime Silk Road during the Song Dynasty in China to embed gold leaf in the classics dedicated to Itsukushima Shrine, thus inaugurating the development of the gold leaf process in Japan for more than 800 years, which is now used in a large number of well-known buildings, paintings, pottery, metalware, lacquerware and foodstuffs left in Japan. It is now used in a large number of well-known architectural, painting, pottery, metalware, lacquerware and food products in Japan.
Currently, the gold leaf industry in Japan is still concentrated in the city of Kanazawa, where there are more than 20 stores of gold leaf companies along the streets, and Kanazawa has almost 99% of the gold leaf produced in Japan. Inspired by the Maeda family's policy of recruiting talented people, many artisans converged on Kanazawa, but the Edo Shogunate ruled that the right to make gold leaf was reserved for Edo and Kyoto, so the manufacture of gold leaf did not begin in Kanazawa until after the 19th century.


The city of Mandalay is also a gold leaf producer and the "king galon" gold leaf workshop in Mandalay is a tourist attraction that attracts visitors from all over the world. Mandalay people beat gold leaf in a different style, with the foil beater standing against a wall and the gold paper packet resting on a slanted stone (much like the stone used for traditional foil beating in Nanjing) and the foil beater (one person) bending down to strike it from time to time. It should be said that the traditional method of beating foil in Nanjing, in which two people are not in the same plane and take turns to hit the paper bag on the tip of the stone with a pushing hammer, is more scientific in terms of the posture and mechanics of the person sitting.


The village of Gia Lam District, 20 kilometers east of Hanoi, Vietnam, has a population of 3,700 and two pillar industries, artificial leather products and gold leaf, which support the livelihood of the villagers. The village is also known as the "gold leaf village" of Vietnam, with a long history as the only source of gold leaf in Vietnam, and it is said that the art of gold leaf was passed on from China. There are more than 70 gold leaf workshops in the village, each employing 6 or 7 people, with a total of more than 400 people engaged in gold leaf production. The gold leafing process in Vietnam is entirely manual, and the gold paper is not up to par. The glue used for the gold paper coating is still made from smoked smoke from oil lamps and bone glue, which China has long abandoned.


END
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