Calligraphy in One Line: "A Single Flower Blooms and the World Is in Spring"


Calligraphy in One Line: "A Single Flower Blooms and the World Is in Spring"

calligraphy / Edo

By Ike no Taiga (1723–76)

Edo period, 18th century

Ink on paper



Inscriptions: ;

This single line of calligraphy reads, “Flowers bloom. It is spring in all lands.” The poem is supposedly based on a saying by a monk from the Rinzai school of Buddhism. The phrase was likely meant to suggest that it feels as if the whole world is in springtime when the flower of enlightenment blooms.

This calligraphy was written by Ike no Taiga, who was active as a painter and calligrapher in the 18th century.

First, note the shapes of the characters. The first character is painted in a carefree, sweeping style with a slightly vertically elongated form. The shapes of the following three characters are either slightly horizontally elongated or square.

Next, note the way the brush moves within each character. This is the highlight of this calligraphy. Try following the strokes from top to bottom, as if writing them with your eyes. The first character has a strong emphasis on the vertical line of movement. The following three characters flow back and forth, like a large, winding river.

Now, shift your focus from the ink lines to the white spaces that they surround. None of the white spaces inside the curves drawn by the brush are angular, and all have gentle, rounded forms. This no doubt contributes to the relaxed impression produced by this line of calligraphy.

Finally, trace the movement of the brush with your eyes one more time. As you follow the flowing calligraphy, imagine you are drifting down a river as you bask in the spring sunshine with the artist Taiga.

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