Thursday, June 16, 2011

Modern Update on an Old Material

Totan (トタン) or , comes from the Portuguese "tutanaga," an alloy composed of copper, zinc and nickel to which bits of iron and other metals are added. It is most likely a Chinese invention, the word coming into Portuguese via the Persian "tutia-nak," meaning "zinc oxide"— only to return east to Japan in the 15th century along with Christian missionaries.

Here's a good example of a battered old totan siding house, nicely set off by its solid-looking window frames:

And here's a revival of the theme, a few blocks away in the same town:

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