Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room T1
August 23, 2016 (Tue) - October 2, 2016 (Sun)
Fujiwara no Kozei (972–1027) was an aristocrat in the mid-Heian period. He is recognized as one of the three most accomplished calligraphers of this period, along with Ono no Tofu (894–966) and Fujiwara no Sari (944–998). Japanese-style calligraphy was completed around this time, based on calligraphic styles introduced from China. From then until the time of the emperor Toba (1103–56), Kozei’s style was so popular that purportedly every calligrapher copied it. Furthermore, his descendants were appointed as official court calligraphers for generations, each playing a vital part in Japanese-style calligraphy from the Heian to the Kamakura period. He was also revered as the founder of his calligraphic lineage, which was later called the Sesonji school.
This thematic exhibition begins with the authentic handwritings of Fujiwara no Kozei. Among them, his masterpiece, the National Treasure Poems of Bai Juyi, bears a colophon by his descendant Fujiwara no Sadanobu (1088–after 1154), authenticating the writing as Kozei’s own. In addition, a letter designated as an Important Cultural Property is accompanied by a document by Prince Son’en (1298–1356) praising Kozei’s calligraphy. Thus we can see the history of how Kozei’s art was appreciated.
Faithful replications of Kozei’s calligraphic style, such as in Engishiki, another National Treasure, represent the great popularity of his calligraphy in the Heian period. Moreover, segments of classical poetry anthologies such as those known as “Masushikishi” were attributed to Kozei from the very hope that the fluent kana handwriting was by Kozei himself.
The featured works will introduce the extraordinary popularity and respect for the calligraphic art of Fujiwara no Kozei.