Shōkadō Shōjō Japanese

Not on view

Even without deciphering the contents of this informal missive, we can engage with the abstract rhythm of the calligraphy. It is a brilliant example of chirashi-gaki, or “scattered writing,” in which columns of text are arranged out of normal sequence. Letters like this by noted cultural figures could be repurposed for display in the tokonoma alcove for a tea gathering. Shōkadō Shōjō, a Buddhist monk, was lauded as one of the great calligraphers of his day.

Letter, Shōkadō Shōjō (Japanese, 1584?–1639), Hanging scroll; ink on paper, Japan

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