Words of Prayer


Words of Prayer

calligraphy / Kamakura

By Sesonji Sadanari (active 1278-1312)

Kamakura period, dated 1284 (Koan 7)

Ink on decorated paper


Important Cultural Property

This prayer was offered by Taira no Yukimasa, a military commander during the mid-Heian period, on the 13th anniversary of the death of his grandfather, Taira no Masahira.
In the final lines, Yukimasa is named as the petitioner and the creation date is given as the eighteenth day of the third month, 1284.
The writing also describes the character and lineage of Masahira, who had been the governor of Suo province, an area located in modern-day Yamaguchi prefecture. It also recounts how Yukimasa had assumed the position of governor at an early age and how he had offered the prayer together with his grandmother, who had married his grandfather at age 15 before becoming a widow in her sixties. It then describes the prosperity of the family and how it worked together to hold a grand memorial service to pray for Masahira's salvation and peaceful repose in the next world. This valuable historical document reveals how the military class held memorial services for their ancestors in the late Kamakura period.
The paper uses bamboo fiber. The colorful depictions of Chinese figures and southern flora suggest the paper was imported from China. With its Sesonji-school Japanese-style script, the document also has historical value as a work of calligraphy.

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