"Kokin waka shu" Poetry Anthology


"Kokin waka shu" Poetry Anthology

calligraphy / Kamakura

By Emperor Gofushimi (1288-1336)

Kamakura period, dated 1322 (Genko 2)

Ink on paper


Important Cultural Property

The Kokin waka shu is an ancient poetry anthology compiled during the Heian period, which lasted from 794 to 1192. This copy was transcribed by Emperor Gofushimi around 300 years later. His father was Emperor Fushimi, a prominent calligrapher. Emperor Fushimi's monogram is stamped on the back of the two other ancient poetry anthologies: the Hakushi Shikan, or Poems of Bai Juyi, which is a National Treasure in the Tokyo National Museum collection, and the Katsurabon Man'yo shu, a work in the Imperial Collection. This reveals how Emperor Fushimi had been a keen collector and student of ancient works of outstanding calligraphy. Emperor Fushimi's calligraphic style was known as ‘Fushimi-in style' and it had a major influence on Japanese-style calligraphy during the Kamakura period. With its lavish, graceful air, Emperor Gofushimi's calligraphy also bears a strong resemblance to his father's.

This book contains the kana preface and volumes 1 to 20 of the Kokin waka shu. It was transcribed solely by Emperor Gofushimi and the calligraphy is imbued with his extraordinary zeal. An inscription at the end contains the year 1322. There is also a postscript written by the Emperor when he was 35. This recounts how the transcription was completed many years previously, so the Emperor probably created this in his youth.

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