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Decorated Writing Paper and Segments Mounted for Display

Decorated Writing Paper and Segments Mounted for Display / Honkan Room T1   November 5, 2008 (Wed) - December 14, 2008 (Sun)

  
Tale of Matsuura no Miya, Kamakura period, 13th century (Important Cultural Property)

The practice of decorating writing paper was already established by the Nara period (710-794). The decoration methods included sukizome (dyeing during the manufacturing process) and fukizome (spray-dyeing), as well as scattering small pieces of gold or silver leaf.

In the Heian period, paper with elegant and delicate decoration suitable for writing waka poems and various tales was in demand. Paper such as rosen (paper with glossed decorative designs) was imported, and various techniques were developed that reflected the court nobles' sensitivity, including mica powder decoration using stencils, paintings of butterflies, birds, etc., and sukimoyo (patterns created during the manufacturing process). In the 12th century, paper similar to the imported pieces was produced in Japan and writing paper decoration reached its peak, resulting in many excellent works including the Poems of Thirty-six Immortal Poets, Honganji Version with exquisite ornamentation and the sumptuously decorated Lotus Sutra Donated by the Heike Clan. While these paper decoration techniques continued to be used in and after the Kamakura period (1192-1333), decorative designs painted in gold and silver pigments and "metal leaf pictures" (imprinted metal leaf decoration) using stencils showed notable development in the Muromachi period (1392-1573).

From the Muromachi period, as the tea ceremony became fashionable, there was a boom of kohitsu (wayo style calligraphy, mainly of poetry, from the Heian and Kamakura periods). Literary works and Buddhist transcriptions in handscroll and book forms were segmented and mounted as hanging scrolls and albums for display and appreciation. This exhibition features such kohitsu masterpieces as well as the national treasure Kokin Waka Shu Poetry Anthology, Gen'ei Version, which retains most of its original appearance. We hope that you enjoy the beautiful world of decorated paper.

 Major works in this exhibition

* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Segments from the Poetry-Anthology Kokin Wakashu, Known as Sunshoan Shikishi: Poem about Autumn Moon, Attributed to Ki no Tsurayuki, Heian period, 11th century (Important Cultural Property, Gift of Mr. Asano Nagatake)
Kokin Waka Shu Poetry Anthology, Gen'ei Version, Heian period, 12th century (National Treasure, Gift of Mr. Mitsui Takahiro)
Tale of Matsuura no Miya, Kamakura period, 13th century (Important Cultural Property)