Segment from a Poetry Anthology Known as "Akihagi-Jo"


Segment from a Poetry Anthology Known as "Akihagi-Jo"

calligraphy / Heian

Attributed to Ono no Tofu

Heian period, 11th - 12th century

Ink on decorative paper


National Treasure

This scroll is known as the Autumn Bush Clover Anthology. It takes its name from the start of the poem on the first page, which reads, “The leaves of the autumn bush clover.” The calligraphy is in a simple cursive style. This, together with the beauty of the characters and the colored paper, has made this anthology one of the most famous works in the history of Japanese calligraphy.

The scroll is comprised of twenty richly-colored, jointed sheets of paper dyed in various shades of white, indigo, brown, yellow, and green. Forty-eight Japanese waka poems have been copied out on the first fifteen sheets, while eleven letters by China's Eastern-Jin-dynasty calligrapher Wang Xizhi have been transcribed on the sixteenth to twentieth sheets. The poems on the first sheet are presumably by the renowned Heian-period calligrapher Ono no Tofu. The remaining nineteen sheets are said to have been copied by Fujiwara no Kozei, a Heian-period calligrapher who perfected Japanese-style calligraphy, though there is no reliable evidence for these claims. An annotated version of the military strategy chapter of The Great Brilliance of Huainan, a philosophy book written during China's Western Han dynasty, is transcribed in neat, standard script on the reverse sides of the second through twentieth sheets of the scroll.

This suggests the Autumn Bush Clover Anthology was transcribed on the back of this annotated work, which was itself probably copied during China's Tang dynasty.

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