Past Exhibitions

Elegant Kana Calligraphy and Waka Poetry
December 15, 2015 - January 24, 2016

Thirty-one syllable waka poems are filled with seasonal references and evocative phrases. The classical Japanese poetic genre of waka reached its peak in the Heian period (794 –1185), when it was associated most closely with the aristocracy, but in fact waka were beloved by people across society. Mastery of waka poetry was the mark of a cultured individual in early Japan.

The calligraphy in this exhibition encompasses waka from poetry competitions (uta awase), poems from classical anthologies, kaishi—waka composed to chant at poetry gatherings—and other varieties. One characteristic of all the works on view is the ample use of phonetic kana characters. This delicate calligraphy has a different sensibility from script written primarily in Chinese characters.

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