Album of waka

Emperor Go-Yōzei 後陽成天皇 Japanese

Not on view

This rare and elegant example of an early seventeenth century calligraphy album encapsulates a millennium of courtly tradition and features brush writings by retired emperor Go-Yōzei and eleven other courtier-calligraphers, including his brother and two of his sons. Each calligrapher inscribed two waka (thirty-one syllable verse) poems written over paper decorated with a combination of natural and abstract motifs rendered in gold and silver powders and cut foil, colors, and ink details. The overall impression is of great sumptuousness, and the natural motifs include images of abbreviated landscapes, bridges, clouds, cherry blossoms and leaves, and birds. The calligraphy, in ink, varies from running script to cursive, with brushlines varying in thickness from strong, rich black to gossamer fineness.

Album of waka, Emperor Go-Yōzei 後陽成天皇 (Japanese, 1571–1617) and eleven others, Album of twelve double leaves; ink on gold and silver decorated paper, Japan

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