Since ancient times, various techniques of inlay crafts have been used around the world. Originating from Damascus in Syria, it is said that the techniques of metal inlay crafts travelled along the Silk Road and reached Japan around the Asuka period (592-710).
Inlay crafts were initially used in creating weapons or utensils for religious ceremonies. One of the earliest examples of inlay techniques can be found on the ancient samurai sword Shichisei-ken, held at the Shitennoji Temple in Osaka. Here, intricate inlay decoration can be seen on both the blade and the end of the handle of this large sword. Another example can be found at the Shosoin Imperial Repository in Nara where a sword with gold inlay has been carefully preserved. At Yakushiji Temple in Nara, important symbolic Buddhist patterns are inlaid onto the palms and feet of their main Buddhist statue. Zinlay is a family business that is bringing this beautiful ancient technique to the modern world.