The Tale of Matsura no Miya


The Tale of Matsura no Miya

calligraphy / Kamakura

Kamakura period, 13th century

Ink on decorated paper


Important Cultural Property

The Tale of Matsura no Miya is a fanciful love story from the medieval period. In the story, a handsome, talented leading character travels to China as a vice envoy after suffering from a broken heart. In China, he is taught a secret song for the zither from the emperor's sister. It is said to have been authored by Fujiwara no Teika, a famous poet from the early Kamakura period, which lasted from 1192 to 1333.

One of the highlights of this work is the graceful writing. Each character is fully rounded, with sharply-contrasting thick and thin sections. This style is a common feature in calligraphy from the mid-13th century onwards.

Another noteworthy feature is the ornately decorated paper. The pages are dyed in different colors and some feature a pattern that resembles clouds.

The artwork on the pages is also of interest. Some pages feature the moon, clouds, maples branches, and chrysanthemums on hedges, all drawn in silver and gold paint. The story is also set in autumn. Readers must have been swept away by these impressive underdrawings.

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