Saiun-do Kyoto Nihonga Mineral Pigment Set, 104 colours


If David Bowie were a painter, he would buy his paints in a 100 year old shop in the narrow streets of old Kyoto called Painted Clouds, of course. Aside from its illustrious patrons, the little shop, Saiun-do in Japanese, is renowned for the quality of its paints.

The pigments here presented are mixed by hand using secret recipes from 1863 when the shop was opened by Tsukio Fujimoto, the current owner's grandfather. Colours are made from the best raw, natural ingredients imported from around the world: Brazilian Azurite for Peacock Blue, Malachite for Green Rokusho, soil and marble from China for white, even pearls and seashells for the finest whites. These colours and ingredients are specific to the Japanese colour palette and form the basis of what is known as Nihonga - a term coined during the Meiji era to speak specifically of Japanese painting, in response and reaction to the thirst for Western things popular at the time. The colours obtained from the pigments, once mixed with a gelatine binder (nikawa), produce uniquely thick and crystalline colours, now favoured by contemporary Japanese painters. The result is not dissimilar in effect to Renaissance Italian fresca painting, as though the colours have their own professional lighting technician at all times. In traditional Nihonga technique these are used in combination with black Sumi ink, which, once diluted, creates layers and shades of black and grey. 

To transform the powdered pigments into usable paints, mix these with the nikawa liquid to your preferred consistency. Consider that preparing your paints is as much a part of the Nihonga practice and artists' ritual as the painting itself.

This set includes 104 - every single available pigment made by Saiun-do packaged in 8 individual boxes containing 13 pigments each, and in turn individually in corked glass vials. To mix pigments into paint please purchase this this gelatine glue-based binder available here. We also stock a number of ceramic mixing palettes to use with.

A beautiful video of how these pigments could be used can be viewed on one of our customer's Youtube channel here and here, and you can read our full interview here. (please note this is video is not a formal instruction video and should not be interpreted as such)

Ingredients: Suihi-enogu, gofun or calcium carbonate (made from crushed shells) based and mixed with pigment. Individual recipes are the makers secret and are both natural or synthetic in origin, varying according to colour. 
Included: 104 colours packages in 8 handmade washi presentation boxes and arranged by colour way, and gift-wrapped. Binder sold separately. 
Vegetarian: yes
Vegan: No (some pigments contain gofun which is derived from shells)
Made in Japan

Here pictured is David Bowie at the Saiun-do shop (second photograph by Masayoshi Sukita taken in 1980).