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Kasuga Poetry Sheet (Kasuga Kaishi) also referred to as Nara Poetry Sheet (Nara kaishi)

Calligrapher Unidentified artist

Not on view

Mounted as a hanging scroll suitable for display in an alcove, this is an excellent example of an early medieval wakagaishi, or poetry sheet inscribed with court poetry (waka). The themes of the poems are inscribed in Chinese, and the waka transcribed mostly in elegant kana according to conventional formats. In this case the poems, by Monk Gyōkai, are each arranged in two full columns (each containing twelve syllables) and a final column (with seven syllables). The poems read:

Rakka no waka o eizu
hana o shikakete
sasagani no
ito koso haru no

Composed on “Falling Blossoms”
As blossoms
start to scatter,
they will be trapped
by spiderwebs spun
in preparation for spring.

Yamabuki no
kogane no iro
aruji o omou
hodo soshiraruru

On “Mountain Roses”
The mountain rose
has burst into bloom,
glistening bright gold,
as if to reveal its love
for the house’s master!

—Trans. John T. Carpenter

Kasuga Poetry Sheet (Kasuga Kaishi) also referred to as Nara Poetry Sheet (Nara kaishi), Unidentified artist, Kaishi (poetry sheet) mounted as a hanging scroll; ink on paper, Japan

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