Selected Poems of Bai Juyi


Selected Poems of Bai Juyi

calligraphy / Heian

By Fujiwara no Kōzei (972–1027)

Heian period, 1018 (Kannin 2)

Ink on decorated paper


National Treasure

Chinese poetry was an important part of self-cultivation for the nobility during the Heian period, which lasted from 794 to 1185. The Hakushi Monju, a collection of poems by the Tang-dynasty Chinese poet Bai Juyi, was very popular at the time. This transcription of eight poems from the collection is a reflection of this fashion. The poems are transcribed on lavish, colored paper in a light, refined style. The inscription at the end of the scroll indicates the work was produced by Fujiwara no Kozei when he was 47. Kozei is known as the man who perfected the Japanese style of calligraphy. He received a commission to create this work as a gift to be exchanged by aristocrats. As such, it was intended to be read and appreciated rather than used as a mere penmanship copybook. The signature of Emperor Fushimi is on the seams of this scroll on the reverse side, thus indicating he once owned and cherished this work.

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