In Japan, during the Edo (1603-1868) and Meiji periods (1868-1912), all traditional Japanese homes and shops featured a central area called the Irori, or, a sunken hearth. Here, charcoal would be continuously burned for cooking and warming the home. Suspended above the hearth was a Jizai, or self-adjuster, from which a large iron kettle would be hung. A Jizai Gake, or a large wooden hook, was suspended from the ceiling or roof beams with heavy rope. An adjuster was attached and this set up allowed the weight of the kettle or iron pot to be raised and lowered as needed.
Because the hearth was centrally located in the home or shop and highly visible to guests or customers, owners aspired to have elaborate and impressive hooks made of fine woods with extraordinary craftsmanship.
After decades of use, authentic Jizai Gake show wear and tear in the form of rich, darkened patinas from sitting above incessant coal fire and heat. In addition, where the heavy rope hung from the “J” part of the hook, deep grooves are rubbed into the wood.
We are fortunate to have several Jizai Gake for sale at David Alan Collection and invite you to come see them. These beautiful hooks are a fine example of Japanese architectural ingenuity and today are highly collectible pieces of folk art from centuries ago.